USATF Cross Country Championship in Tallahassee, Florida - Really glad Rob came up with the idea and asked me to enter this race. I have not run a cross country event since high school - and the last one Rob and I ran together was about 35 years ago. Doug and his wife were kind hosts to us as we drove down to Tally from Atlanta on Friday - providing us all we needed for the race. (We need to get Doug to run with us next time, too).
The event was top shelf - well-organized and very cool too. The Apalachee Regional Park is a cross-country specific venue - which I had first seen about 6 years ago when one of my daughters was in high school, and it was and continues to be the site of the Florida high school state cross country championships, and it serves as FSU's home cross country course. It is laid out very well for spectators, with stands and a jumbotron with live action from multiple views on the course including the lead vehicle Gator/ATV golf cart - and scrolling updates with competitors' live results / upates during each race. In the last few years they have widened the course to where it is a minimum of 10 meters wide - and the surface includes grass, packed dirt/clay and crushed /packed shells. It boasts a mostly flat terrain, but enough ups and downs at key points in the course to make it interesting.
Rob and I warmed up on the warm up course (they have a separate warm-up trail of 1.25 miles to keep runners off the course while the events were going on - they have thought of everything it seams). We watched the Community 5k and the Women's Masters 6k before we headed to the start for the Men's Masters 8k. There were teams and runners from all over the US from age 40 up to 80's. Everyone was all business on the starting line - and was both excited and I was nostaglic for my high school days - and thankful that I am still able to line up for running events this many years later.
Competition was very strong - with around 107 participants. I found myself running with a little too much adreniline in the first mile, but settled into a measured pace to account for the constantly changing surface and turns. My splits were 6:26, 6:53, 6:59, 7:14 and 6:59. I would like to say that I competed well, but honestly, I think I passed one person in the first 2 miles and someone passed, me and then my place never changed. Finished reasonably strong trying to catch my nearest competition but ran out of space.
Overall I enjoyed the race - especially spending some time with old friends and getting a chance to do something a little bit different.