Luckier in Kentucky
Matt Levassiur and the Boulder Running Company team almost pulled an upset in 2011 Club Cross. They return in 2012 as a contender.
by The Trailer
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – No question: The marquis team in the 2011 Cross Country Championships, held in Seattle, Wash., was McMillanElite. The Flagstaff, Ariz.-based group was armed with:
- Two (2) sub-2:12 marathoners
- Two (2) sub-29:00 10,000m guys
- One (1) 13:31 5,000m guy
- Defending Club Cross Champ Aaron Braun
McMillanElite was a juggernaut. They were a Goliath. And they almost got beat by a no-name team from Colorado.
When the final score was tallied, McMillanElite won 72-80 (low score in cross country wins) over Boulder Running Company/adidas thanks to massive jumps by McMillan’s Braun and Brett Gotcher over the last 2K loop. But it was the spread between first and fifth for both teams—the benchmark for team competition—that is most revealing in how close the battle was.
Between McMillanElite’s first and fifth was a spread of 1 minute, 3 seconds. BRC’s was 35 seconds.
Matt Levassiur, a 2:18:58 marathoner on the BRC team who had PRed at Chicago two months before the race and would compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon a month later, still laughs about it. “It was the first cross country race I had run since, jeez, I think 2007 U.S. Cross,” he says.
Levassiur wasn’t BRC’s top man. He wasn’t even their second man. Coming in third on the team, he was 25th, and he expects to come in around the same place at this year’s Club Cross in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, Dec. 8, when his club returns hungry for their first national title.
The 31-year-old high school English teacher, who has a wife and two-year-old daughter waiting for him back home, says, “When you’re out there it’s like you’re 16 again, lining up for your high school cross country team; you’re 19 again, lining up for your college cross country team.
“Kids fresh out of college and people that are doing it locally . . . you have people running at all sorts of different ability levels. You have the best of a lot of disciplines—track and the road running and marathoning—lining up at the same place.”
There are two big post-collegiate cross country races in the U.S. The most important, the U.S. Cross Country Championships, selects a World Cross Country Championships team, and the results are individually based. But Club Cross is all about the team, and though there are individual winners with their own credentials—2011 World Championships bronze-medalist Matt Centrowitz was fourth last year, and American Record-holder Alan Webb is currently on the start list for this year’s race—the real competition lies with groups like BRC that fly in from all over the country.
And that’s how BRC almost upset a professional running team: in 2011 they weren’t the most individually talented; they were just the best team.
“If you have a group of guys that are willing to go out there and aim for that 15 to 30th place, you can have a pretty good squad,” Levassiur says. “And that’s where our team is at.”
Leading BRC this year is 24-year-old Andy Wacker, a Colorado alum with a 29:10.89 10,000m best. But Levassiur says the team’s ages range from 21 to older than him, and none of them are running full-time.
“We’re not out of a Bruce Springsteen song; we’re not from Jersey,” he says, “but all of us have regular jobs. Running is something that is an outlet for us, and we’re still able to do it reasonably well.”
BRC will face off against California’s Aggie Running Club, led by 2:14-marathoner Sergio Reyes. Former men’s champ Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, from Rochester Hills, Mich., also sends a deep team.
But Levassiur still thinks they have more than a good shot at their first team title. “I’m going to make a bold prediction: I really can’t see us not winning,” he says.
“What happens at Club is what happens at [NCAA] D-I Nationals: You go out in the top-10 and you really go for it, chances are you’re going to blow up and finish in the 40s and 50s,” he says.
“Our goal is to win, and we’re going to run like that.”
This isn’t the first time Matt Levassiur has talked into a microphone; he had an excellent Day-in-the-Life put together by Running Times Magazine before the 2012 Olympic Team Trials Marathon. Boulder Running Company/adidas has a blog and a Twitter they’ll be updating during their Club Cross campaign.