Cross Country Receives Finish Line Support from Track Team’s Puke Patrol


Courtesy of Sam Wehr

“The Puke Patrol” at last weekend’s annual Inter-Regional Rumble.

This past weekend, members of the track and field team supported their teammates by working what they affectionately nicknamed “the Puke Patrol” — a group of track athletes who donned ponchos and gloves to protect themselves from the bodily fluids exhausted runners can emit when they finish a race. Last weekend’s meet was the annual Inter-Regional Rumble, where Oberlin’s cross country team competed against 44 other schools.

After finishing a race, cross country runners are often too physically exhausted and overwhelmed to step away from the finish line once they cross it. Stopping right at the line, however, can result in athletes getting trampled by the hundreds of other competitors closing in behind them. To prevent any injuries, track and field athletes who are not competing assist cross country runners as they move away from the rush of athletes at the finish line. Unfortunately, the intensity of the physical exertion during a 6K or 8K also causes many athletes to throw up — and the “Puke Patrol” is right in the line of fire. 

According to college fourth-year Katy Wearing, a member of both the track and field team and Rumble “Puke Patrol”, when members of the track team arrived to help work the meet, their coach instructed them to gear up with protective plastic coverings.

“We got assigned jobs, and one of the jobs was working the finish line, which turns out to be the puke squad,” Wearing said. “We showed up and our coach [was] like, ‘Here’s a plastic bag for you to wear, and gloves, because you might get puked on.’ I don’t think anybody actually got directly puked on — which was good — but there were lots of people passing out so we had to help them get out of the way. It was very dramatic but kind of fun, in a way.”

Wearing said that, despite the occupational hazards, members of the “Puke Patrol” found their work rewarding and enjoyed being able to support their fellow athletes.

“[It was] just chaos,” Wearing said. “Some people really have fun with it because you’re helping people, and they’re often quite grateful to you even though they’re in a state of physical collapse. Some people were a little iffy about it just because they didn’t want to get gross.”

Third-year distance runner on the cross country team, Chase Sortor, says that the Rumble is his favorite meet of the whole year, noting how exciting it is to have everyone’s family, friends, and alumni come back for the event.

“Everyone is screaming for you the whole way and the energy just really pushes you to have a good race,” he said. “The wall of sound leaving the wood chips is insane and I personally — and I hope everyone else — really feels all the love on Rumble day.”

Both the cross country Yeowomen and Yeomen ranked 15th or above. The team will run in the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship meet this Saturday.