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December 13, 2012

Meet Team runcoach! Bronze Medalists at the 2012 USATF Club Cross Country Championships

Written by Dena Evans

team_runcoach_picAshley Grosse, Christine Kennedy, and Maggie Visser traveled to Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday, December 8 to compete at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships.  As the representatives of runcoach’s newly formed elite squad, they contested the Women’s 40+ team championships over a muddy, hilly, 6K course.  Together, they took home the bronze medal as the nation’s third best team among masters athletes in Team runcoach’s debut.  Individually, Visser led the team in 7th among all age-groups, with Kennedy in 11th and Grosse 31st.  Kennedy, the 2011 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, individually won the 55-59 age group, while posting the top age-graded time across the entire field.

 

This week, we caught up with Grosse, Kennedy, and Visser upon their return to training in the Bay Area.

 

 

rc: Can you share with our members a bit about how this team materialized so quickly into a competitive unit?

 

CK: I have raced for the last two years with Tom and he has been very instrumental in me achieving my goals.  I wanted to show that behind my success were Tom and his training, and get the word out that other people can achieve their goals in the same way.  Even though there were only three of us to start there were enough to score in the masters division.

 

AG:  We formed in the fall.  There weren’t a huge amount of opportunities for us to run together locally, so we thought it would be great for team building to go to club nationals.  We had all been working with Tom for a long time.  At nationals, three score, so we had the chance to really be an elite masters team.  It was a great way to gauge where we are at, although none of us necessarily specialize in cross country.

 

MV: Unfortunately, we had in mind to race the PA champs [the local, northern California championships], but sickness required us to regroup and focus on competing well at nationals.

 

 

rc:  How did race play out relative to expectations?

 

MV: We initially had a goal of winning, but that was more of a motivational thing for us.  I knew we would be competitive with the Impalas [a historically strong team].

 

AG:  We also knew Club Northwest would be a challenge because we saw them last year in Seattle [at the 2011 meet, where the three competed for a variety of other teams].

 

MV: The course was deceivingly deceptive.  Coming from San Francisco, we are used to running hills.  So running the course before, I figured this would be easy – the hills are minor!  However, the terrain was muddy and so uneven, it probably tired our bodies a little bit more.  After the three-mile mark to the finish, it was extraordinarily hard for me.  I did something I never do, and that is look back.  We finished and Christine was telling me, “Come on! Come on! Let’s go look for Ashley!” I couldn’t move!  It was really, really hard.

 

AG: I agree exactly with Maggie.  That last hill before you wind up for the finish - it was long and it was not pretty.  The course was really muddy in a lot of places.  Tom had us ready individually, and we were good enough to finish third.  Looking at the teams behind us, we did very well. We are very motivated to go to Bend [Oregon, location of the 2013 meet] and bring that club trophy back to runcoach!

 

CK:  Traveling together and sharing a hotel room…It was great to be in that environment:  hanging out, warming up together, and knowing we had a lot of competition, but we were just going to give our best.  Just feeding off each other…. because the team was so new and strong, we weren’t jealous of each other and my goal was to just stay up with Maggie.  We all just wanted to run well and bring it home for our training partners and the guys we see on the track every week.  They have really been a big part of this!

 

rc: What is in store for team runcoach in the spring?

 

AG:  One of the nice things was that when we were at the track on Monday, a lot of the other runcoach athletes were very congratulatory, and they were all excited and felt we were representing them as well.  That was a neat feeling.  We got behind this because we wanted to support Tom, who had supported us for so long.  We are totally behind him and his methods, and we are showing people how Tom has prepared us so well as masters athletes.  So far, we have talked about doing the masters half-marathon championships in Melbourne, Florida this February.   At the awards ceremony, we were approached by USATF officials about some exciting international opportunities.  That was very cool.  We are being ambitious about places to race, and we are looking forward to going to Bend next year.

 

MV: We definitely want to explore growth, because now if anyone is injured we won’t be able to score, or a marathon might interfere with cross country.  It is very empowering to run with the other women and to share those experiences, building on our success so far.  So, we look forward to growing.

 

CK: This is a huge step for runcoach to have a team, even it is only the three of us now.  We have reinforced to him [Tom] that we aren’t going away.  He set us out to do a job, and we came back successfully.  We plan to take cross country very seriously next year with a goal of taking first or second.  Now we all have goals and want the same thing.  We can plan now for the whole year – not each person giving individual schedules, but planning the team goals together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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