When the leaves change colors and temperatures drop, most students make a break for the warm fireplace in the Union or the hot chocolate dispenser in the cafeteria. That is except for the crazy, sparsely-dressed Luther Cross Country runners. When fall comes to a close and winter rears its frost-bitten head, the championship season arrives and Norse runners gear up for the challenges ahead.
Earlier this month, fourteen runners, making up the men's and women's varsity teams, suited up for the long trip to Terre Haute, Indiana, while many of their teammates, classmates and family "suited down" for their own trip. Hopping aboard the Norse-themed charter bus christened "Sleipnir III," dozens of high-energy fans prepared to strip down into their shorts, lather themselves in blue and white body paint and shout a few "LUs."
Pioneered by men's cross country head coach, Steve Pasche, this fan bus made its third trip to the National Championship meet to cheer on the Norse runners. And, with all the enthusiastic Luther fans, it is not uncommon for spectators to mistakenly assume Luther is the host school!
Luther has sent at least one team to the national meet in the past two years and each year the fans have made the trek to cheer on their fellow harriers, far outnumbering any rivals' fans. With massive flags touting Norse spirit and traditional Viking horns blaring above even the official announcers, one might mistake this event for a professional football game.
Although many may not associate cross country spectating with excitement, when you take 65 teammates, plus their roommates, their track and field teammates, parents and alums, all sprinting from corner to corner with flags flying high, you cannot help but get caught up in the adventure. This one day of the year truly encapsulates what Norse spirit really is and shows the dedication everyone has towards the blue and white. I truly felt honored to be a part of this cheering section again this year and can't help but think of our motto going into the thrall: "Body paint is warmer than you think."
John Freude '14, InsideGiving intern,
Sugar Bowl (Decorah's newest ice cream place) fan since 2009