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NCAA Cross Country Regionals

Adventures in Oregon!

The NCAA DIII Regional XC race was last Saturday. The women’s team brought five competitors, and the men’s team brought seven. We left campus on Thursday afternoon and drove to LAX.

We left at around 5PM on our 2 hour flight flight to Portland.

Blurry image of Portland from the plane window.

Now, Oregon has mild weather, but compared to Los Angeles, Portland was COLD. The temperature was around 45 F all weekend. It would have been an awesome refresher from SoCal non-weather, if any of us had cold-weather clothes. Oops.

We ran the course at Willamette College on Friday morning. The women’s course was 6k; two loops around Busch’s Regional Park next to Willamette’s campus. We started off on a grass field, then 200m later went up a steep hill. We ran through the woods and downhill in a loop for 2k, then out across the field again, back into the woods on the other side for a 1k flat loop. The course was muddy, as it had snowed the day before. The word "snow" isn’t even in our vocabulary anymore, so this was a bit of a shock to the system.

We were having so much fun in the Fall weather, and cooing over the colors on the trees. Most of the women on the team are from colder places (Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania) and we’ve missed this. "This," being actual seasons.

We spent most of Friday relaxing in the hotel, doing problem sets and, in the case of the women’s team, doing yoga. The plane ride and the long car trip made us super stiff. Friday night, we went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant (carbs carbs carbs) and headed back to the hotel for a team meeting.

We went around the room and all 12 runners stated their goals for the race the next morning. This was the cumulation of, for some, a full year of training, and for our seniors, 4 years. We’d been working HARD for the past 11 weeks, since the beginning of preseason, so that we reached peak fitness that week. All that was left was to not think about it too much. Just race. Just run.

The men raced at 10AM on Saturday morning. The ground had frozen overnight, so most of the mud was gone (except across that damn grass field, which was dangerously slick). The weather was perfect, 43 and sunny. Aditya, one of the juniors of the team, came in 12th place (out of 120 runners) to qualify for Nationals (top 35 runners qualify)! He’s off to Mason, Ohio next weekend for the national competition.

The women raced at 11AM. There were TONS of people cheering on the course. Even more than regionals last year, which was held at Pomona college (about 60 minutes from Caltech). Oregon is the running capital of the country, and people therecared about cross country. There were tons of spectators, many of which weren’t related to the runners at all. That was awesome.

The women’s team crushed Mills college, which rocked. Our two seniors, Steph and Carla, ran great races to finish off their fourth season together. Gauri and I, both sophomores, ran together, shoulder-to-shoulder, for most of the race, which was incredible. Passing people amoeba-style (split behind them, spring past, join together in front of them like a wall) led to racing giggles. There’s nothing like a squad to make you feel stronger.

After the race, we showered at Willamette college as fast as possible and drove to Portland. We had just enough time to wait in line at Voodoo Doughnuts in SW Portland before heading to the airport. I am in love with this place.

Trip summary: amazing running, awesome weather, great sight-seeing, delicious donuts, good stuff.