Punch ticket into the “A” race for December’s club team national race
After years of hiatus, the East Regional Cross Country meet was brought back to life. The meet was held at Belmont Plateau and hosted by the adidas Garden State Track Club and participants included, The Garden State Track Club, Georgetown Running Club, Central Park Track Club, along with other members of various East coast clubs. With Geraint and Nate racing in Lexington, Kentucky with the Penn Running Club for the NIRCA (intercollegiate club team) Championships and several other members of PRTC resting up for the Philadelphia marathon weekend races the following week, the club was operating with a slim pool of runners to compete. Fortunately Justin, who was down from Buffalo for the weekend, and newcomer Joe Binder, member of USA’s 100K World Championship Team, were able to tag along with Charlie, Doug, Kevin and Paul to form a six-man team.
The race started off at a pedestrian pace up front with the first mile covered in 5:30. With nobody wanting to take the lead over the challenging course, the race continued at a relatively slow pace that created a bunched lead pack. The second time through the woods, the race sped up, with Kevin and Paul in the lead group of five and Charlie following. Paul began to separate from the field with the top runner from Georgetown and Garden State after reaching the top of Nursery Hill. Although several runners were really moving over the last mile, Phil Royer from Georgetown was able to secure the win easily in 26:26 after a dominating move at the top of Flagpole on the last lap. Unable to match the final kick, Paul finished a clear second in 26:33 and Youssef Rochdi of Garden State finished third in 26:46 after falling off on the final hill. Georgetown dominated the front of the race (1-4-6-7-8), but Kevin was able to split their pack up by finishing in fifth with a time of 26:53.
Although Georgetown would end up with the win with 26 points, the rest of the PRTC team finished strong, securing a second place finish with 53 points edging out both Garden State (68 points) and Central Park (82 points). Despite coming into the race a little worn out, Charlie was still able to finish inside the top 10 overall (9th – 27:16) after mixing it up in the front for the majority of the race. Justin had his best cross country performance to date and moved up the entire race to finish in 15th place with a time of 28:07. After several months without a race, Doug (28:32) closed out the scoring and shook off some rust to finish in 23rd place. Joe (28:39) finished a few seconds back from Doug in 26th place.
The race was for more than pride: USATF divided the men’s open field for the December 12th Club Cross Country National race in San Francisco into an “A” and “B” race. The team’s 43rd place finish in the 2014 national race at Lehigh would not be enough to get them into the “A” race in 2015. With a 2nd place finish in the East championships, PRTC solidified their bid for the upcoming national race and punched their ticket into the “A” race. Further, since PRTC finished as the top Mid-Atlantic Association team, the club was awarded a stipend from USATF–a stipend reserved for the top cross country team in each association–to support the trip out West.
Meanwhile in Kentucky, Geraint and Nate carried the Penn Running Club to one of the school’s best performances in recent history. Their 6th and 8th place finishes, respectively, provided some low sticks to help Penn finish 4th in the country.
Highlights of the day:
Doug left his phone on the hood of Paul’s Honda Fit. The phone magically remained on the hood for the duration of the ride back to South Philadelphia despite traveling on 76, 676 and 95. This was a fortunate result given that Doug just bought the cell phone the day before the race.
The team forgot Joe was pushing along his one year old daughter in a stroller for the cool down, so the first half mile was spent slugging through a rocky path and steep uphill. The remainder of the cool down was spent on the much more stroller friendly path of West River Drive.
Joe brought some very tasty homemade bread that went perfectly with the non-homemade beer brought by the rest of the club.
Kevin and Breandan stepped up big time and drank ciders