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Pac-12 Cross Country Championships

TrackTown, USA:  Our alarm chimed way before the sun rose this morning. Not normally allowed, but our RV needed to be across the interstate to Cummins around 7:30 this morning for her annual lube, oil, filter, inspection, and generator service.

After leaving the Magna Peregrinus in capable Cummins hands, we went over to campus and had a breakfast meeting with the University of Oregon Knight Library staff to discuss archiving Duck track and field photos and memorabilia. It's a project.

Our next stop was to the UO Bookstore/Duck Shop at the Athletic Department/football stadium to see if we needed any more Duck junk. Turns out, we didn't... but we did enjoy watching a crew turn the indoor practice field (a full-on indoor football field) into a party space for the Oregon v Utah football game tomorrow.

The next item on our exciting agenda was out to Springfield Golf Club. We were not playing golf. We were going to watch the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships. If you have never seen a cross country race, I urge you to attend a meet (high school meets are fun!) to learn about this fascinating sport. It is a team race, with the first over-all finisher scoring one point, the second place finisher earning 2 points... on and on... with the lowest combined team score winning the race. Running and Math - a perfect combination. On a beautiful crisp clear Fall day, nothing is better than cross country (except maybe apple picking?).

We did not arrive to a beautiful crisp clear Fall day. It was cold. It was foggy. Our feet were wet from the dewy grass. It was not fun.

Pac-12 women teams lined-up - ready to race

More info for the novice: cross country is run outdoors and not on a track. It is run on a designated course, carefully mapped-out over a golf course, or across farm fields, through a park, over hill, or over dale. In college, men (usually) run 8k (five miles) and women (usually) race 6k (3.7 miles). Your team may consist of up to ten members, but only the top 5 finishers from a team score. (Different scoring scenarios apply at every level of the sport.) A typical college cross country team will consist of the long-distance track racers (5000m and 10000m runners) and a few milers thrown-in for pure torture (of the milers). It is brutal and the runners wear long spikes on their racing flats as they traverse the wilds, running like a pack of wolves chasing prey.

Cross country is not a sport for wimps.

So many racers flying down a fairway sound like a herd of horses. It is an amazing sight and thrilling to hear and feel over a hundred women pounding past.

Colorado won the women's event, finishing 1st, 8th, 9th, 15th, 20th, [28th and 31st] - for a total of 53 points. Oregon women finished second with 71 points. Stanford finished 3rd.

Speaking of runners...

Our friends Tom, Ben and Jessica

In the center of the above photo is Olympian Ben Blankenship. Ben just completed a very interesting challenge: No one had covered a sub-four-minute mile on Alaskan (outdoor) soil. A group of runners decided to attempt a sub-4 in Alaska. Why not? Watch this wonderful short documentary below. It is a 20-plus-minute video, but if you love running/fishing/runners/Alaska, you will enjoy this film. A few notes: Trevor Dunbar is a Duck alum and a native Alaskan. And most interesting - the milers run for different shoe brands, have different sponsors and coaches. Just a group of talented milers ready to take-on a challenge (during the off-season).

Y'all know I love runners, track & field, milers, distance runners, throwers, jumpers, sprinters, vaulters, track coaches... but maybe this video will give you some insight to the odd character of a runner. Runners are not normal people.

After the women's race was tallied, it was time for the Pac-12 men's teams to race. Same basic course, but with an added loop or so to the path, as the boys cover a bit more terrain.

For now.

Wouldn't it be awesome... if one day... colleges would enter a combined women+men team in cross country?

More thundering.

Notice the fog finally burned away? It turned into a gorgeous Fall day. Pretty leaves, green fairways, blue skies.

Pounding into the finish

The Trees of Stanford won the men's competition with a very low 41 points. Colorado finished second with 47, and UCLA (what?) finished third. Oregon men finished fourth.

Above, DT and I pose with Oregon Track Coach Robert Johnson. The photo was taken by Peter Spir. Peter and Dave ran together at Oregon in the 70s. Peter was a miler... and yes, he ran cross country as well... and yes, Peter is a member of the  sub-four mile club.

We retrieved our motorhome, and settled-in for a quiet evening. World Series. Following two cross country races around a golf course is exhausting - and we weren't even racing. We had a blast today - seeing so many old friends and Dave's cross country teammates. Another great day, enjoying the One True Sport.

Until my next update, I remain, your cross country correspondent.

RV PARK: Premier RV Park. I-5, exit 199. Large paved pull-throughs. Back-in sites line a small lake. Laundry, fitness center, club house, bath house, recycling, small store. 50 amp, free wifi. This park is very popular with RVers for repairs and maintenance at the many nearby RV facilities. A lot of live-ins. We are paying $56 per night. Ouch.