Muddy, lumpy, fast, and hilly; Kentucky knows how to throw a cross country race.
by The Trailer
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 2012 Club Cross Country Championships were everything cross country is supposed to be: it was wet, it was muddy, it went out hard and was decided on the hills. And at the end, it was Mattie Suver of Boulder Running Company and Jacob Riley of Hansons-Brooks Distance Project as open women’s and men’s champions.
Suver, a University of Oregon grad (’10), came into the race just wanting to crack the top 10. She’d been sick, she says, and the last time she’d run cross was as an undergrad.
But as the race went through 4K, Suver found herself leading BRC teammate Briana Nelson and 4:06-1,500m girl Katie Mackey.
“I knew I had to go early because some of those girls have a good kick,” Suver says. “I made a move with 600 [meters] to go, hoping I could hold them off. Yeah, it worked.”
Nelson would also move early, coming through the final straight with a clear gap on Mackey of Club Northwest. Meghan Peyton of Team USA Minnesota, Ladia Albertson-Junkans, and Addie Bracy of Team Scoe Wear would round out the top six.
(And speaking of that top six, each receives an invitation to represent the U.S. at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race in Edinburgh, Scotland, on January 5.)
“I’ve heard [Scotland] is really rainy, so it will probably be pretty similar to here,” Suver says. “Maybe a little more mud, a little more rain. It should be fun.”
And though she’s not sure what Scottish food tastes like, she’s pretty sure she’ll enjoy it on her first national team.
In the team standings, Team USA Minnesota, led by Peyton, finished easily number one, 68-88 over last year’s runners-up Boulder Running Company (low score wins). Team New Balance Boston was third with 94, and 2011 team champs Rogue Athletic Club were fourth with 98.
Jacob Riley has had a busy couple of months, though he claims they’ve still been pretty quiet: third in the USA 10-Mile Championships and part of the third-place U.S. team for the Chiba Ekiden in Japan, Riley says that leading the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project men to a team win makes his individual win that much sweeter.
“This has been on our schedule for a long time. We’ve been looking forward to it,” he says. “That makes the party after the race a whole lot better.”
Speaking with coaches Keith and Kevin Hanson before the race, Riley says the plan was to stay away from being the aggressor during the first half—that role was filled by Andy Wacker of Boulder Running Company.
But when the men entered the second lap of the 10K race, Riley looked around, and he saw Craig Forys. “I’d already been beaten once by Craig Forys’ kick,” Riley says, “and I didn’t want that to happen again. I didn’t want some guy to have a free ride and get me in the end.”
So Riley began pushing on the downhills and forcing the lead pack to catch him on the uphills. Mentally and physically it’s draining, he says. Entering the third lap, he pushed harder on the downs, opening up bigger gaps, and going into mile 5, “No one closed it up,” he says. “No one was on my shoulder again.”
Riley would take the win in 29:58 unchallenged in the last straight.
Behind, Forys would hold for second, followed by Wisconsin alum Elliot Krause. Matthew Forys (brother of Craig), Jonathan Peterson, and 2010 USA 20K Champ Sean Quigley were the top six.
In the team competition, the HBDP made short work of the rest, scoring 50 to the Asics Aggies’ 77. Last year’s runners-up Boulder Running Company were third with 106, and in fourth was the New York Athletic Club with 122.