BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh Paul Short Run presented by Asics is back. After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the run is back in a big way this Friday. Timing Site
“We’re expecting Paul Short to be better than ever,” said Lehigh head men’s cross country coach Todd Etters. “That’s the bottom line and that’s how we treat it every year.”
Ask anyone who experiences a Paul Short Race Day and they’ll agree, it is the premier cross country meet in the country.
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“It’s great to be back, and to be back in a format that’s truly a national-caliber competition again,” said Lehigh head women’s cross country coach Debbie Utesch.
“We’re able to host teams from all over the country – Northern Arizona, Utah State, North Carolina, Bowling Green, etc. There are teams not coming just from this general East Coast Mid-Atlantic region, but from all over the nation to compete on the Goodman Campus Course.”
There’s a lot of history that comes with the Lehigh Paul Short Run, and with it takes a lot of work to put on a race featuring several hundred teams and more than 4,000 total runners.
“It’s an honor that Lehigh not only started, but has also done such a great job of hosting what I believe is the best cross country meet in the country,” said Etters.
“There are a lot of people who have been involved over 46 years. Too many to name, but it really started with John Covert then Matt and Deb (Utesch) took over that legacy, added the high school portion, then grew it from there.
“Our facilities people deserve a lot of credit, along with all the people doing so much behind-the-scenes,” Etters continued.
“Just the fact that we host such a premier event, which is such a showcase for Lehigh and the university, we’re proud of what we’re able to accomplish. It’s a lot of work leading up to it, but there’s nothing better than being there the day of the event and seeing it all come together.”
Friday will be extra special for those involved, especially after last year’s race was canceled.
“There was always the question in the back of our minds… will this be able to happen with all the uncertainties that we faced over the last year and a half?” said Utesch.
“To be back at this level of volume, which we’re probably 75 to 80 percent of our traditional volume, I think is tremendous. People have worked really hard to make this happen.”
In the end, Friday will bring a once-in-a-lifetime experience for so many student-athletes, college, and high school.
“Seeing the student-athletes show up on Thursday to pre-meet and Friday to race, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up,” said Etters.
“We have a great course, but it’s an even greater venue when you have so many fans and so many great teams running around. I’d equate it to a football player running out of the tunnel and you have 100,000 fans cheering.
“That same level is what our guys get out of this race.”