Merrill joined him. She was pleased with her run, saying it was good to have another Eastern girl up there, adding, "It is the first time I ever blacked out at the finish."
Higgins looked at the hills. The clear afternoon light was being altered by a cloud of smog from the west, held at bay until now by a light easterly breeze. "That's what cross-country is," he said. "The idea is giving everything you have. It doesn't matter if you win or not. If you've gone all out, it is something from which nobody goes away unsatisfied."
As Merrill and Higgins walked off, they crossed one of the paths. It had an odd texture, accentuated now by the lengthening shadows. The pattern had been made by hundreds of waffle-soled running shoes. On it were several squashed grasshoppers, the final, transient details of a wholly gratifying event.