Congrats to the Souhegan Girls Cross Country Team on placing 21st in the country! They have been gracious enough to send diaries and pics for all to gain insig
ht of what it is like to be a participant in a National XC Championship! Final 1 entries have been added below. Enjoy and thanks Lady Sabers!
And just like that, another amazing day at NXN (aka the last day before race day) is over! Today, we got to sleep in a whole 30 minutes later until 7:30, and went downstairs with high hopes for another great breakfast. We were not disappointed, as we finally were able to eat the infamous Nike waffles we had heard so much about – waffles shaped like Nike shoe-prints with the Nike swish in the middle. We guess that brings a whole new meaning to “waffle spikes?”
After breakfast, we packed up and boarded the buses to make the 40 minute trip to Glendoveer Golf Course, where we would be bumping elbows with the best XC teams in the country in just under 24 hours. We got off the bus and made our way straight into the “Athlete’s Village” the Nike people had set up for the athletes with separate, curtained-off rooms for each team, and lockers for the individual athletes. We listened to the explanation of the course and then set out on the muddiest course run through of our lives. After our adventures through the slippery side lane of the course (Nike wanted to preserve the actual course for the race as much as possible, due to how soft it was), we made our way to the buses where we received a brown bagged lunch for the seemingly long ride back after our chilling run in the rain.
After showering and hanging out at the hotel, we made our way to the buses to head back to Nike Headquarters and exchange any of our Nike swag for new sizes. We then got to meet a handful of elites for a humorous Q&A session, where we got to hear some insight on running and experience some funny personalities. Coming into the week we were projected to get an ASTOUNDING 22nd out of 22 for team place. Our own Elise Lambert had the guts to go up to the mic and ask a group question: “Do you have any advice for the team ranked last?” The pro laughed and in good humor, Evan Jager gave the quick encouragement that ”you can only get better!”
We then headed to the Mia Hamm Building once again for a delicious pre-race carbo-load dinner, meeting and once again fangirling over more elite athletes including Evan Jager, Hassan Mead, and New Hampshire’s own Eric Jenkins. Once again we hit the bus line and headed back to the hotel to prepare for our races in the morning. A few of the Amherst XC girls took some frigid ice baths using the ice that a few of the chaperoning parents raided from the ice machines on various floors of the hotel for us (It was for a good cause, so no hard feelings). After that, we got ourselves prepared for the early morning by laying out all of our uniforms and packing our bags for the day to come.
Shannon E. & Madeleine H.
Race day baby! Today was the day to do what we came here for, and race against the best teams in the country to see who is really the best of the best. We woke up at 6:00am to give us time to grab a good breakfast before loading up the buses. The 40 minute trip to Glendoveer Golf Course was a mix of anxiety and excitement, with just a little grogginess mixed in from travel. When we got to the course, we returned to the Athlete’s Village and got settled before heading outside to try out our ½ spikes. This race marked the first time ever using such long spikes in high school XC, and for the seniors, the last time. All of us who used them, loved them and were happy to have them on the softest course ever.
When the time came, we warmed up and headed out to be introduced in front of the entire nation as a team. It was an incredible moment, to be recognized together, the team who turned out to be the most epic NH underdogs we have ever known. We are also extremely grateful to have this experience as seniors – how many seniors can say their last high school XC race was at Nike Nationals? We crossed the finish line (reverse direction, so no bad luck) hand-in-hand and ran down what would be the final stretch of the course, so glad to be there as a team.
After our introduction and moment of fame, we jogged over to the startline to put our spikes back on and finish our warm up. The start line was extremely intimidating, what with all the tough-looking teams in their coordinated uniforms, but we held our chests high, knowing we had earned our right to race with them. Just because we were the 22nd ranked team, didn’t mean we were any less deserving than the others!
Before we knew it, the race was off and we were on our way! It’s safe to say that this course was the muddiest, and soggiest we had ever run on. It wasn’t even the fun, splashing mud that gets all over everyone and makes everyone look super cool – we just sunk straight down into the jelly-like mud with every step! Each step seemed to get us nowhere – like those dreams you have when you’re trying to run but can’t! As hard-core New Hampshire girls though, we did our best and ran as hard as we could despite the soggy conditions. We were 16th place at the one mile, but dropped back as the course carried on. We finished the race in 21st. But hey, at least we weren’t last. Not bad for the NH underdogs.
We did a nice long cool down on some sturdy (but slippery) paved paths on the golf course, enjoying a “603” cool down with our friend and Northeast Individual qualifier Caroline Fischer. We then headed back to the hotel after rolling out, having some post-race snacks, and taking a plethora of pictures. Back at the hotel, we grabbed a delicious lunch of mac and cheese, barbecue chicken, and fruit and veggies, and even got to raid an ice cream sundae bar! It was a runner’s paradise!
After lunch we purchased the Nike swag we wanted to keep, showered up, and headed back to Nike headquarters where we jammed out on karaoke for 2 hours with all of the other teams in the athlete lounge. Elise Lambert brought her A-game with a legendary performance of “Lose Yourself,” and the whole Amherst XC crew rocked the house with our rendition of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
We then headed to dinner for the last time, and were surprised to be assigned our own table for the last night at Nike. If that surprised us, imagine how shocked we were to have the USA’s very own Amy Cragg, marathoner-extraordinaire, sit down to eat tacos and burritos with us! It was so awesome, and none of us could believe that the last ranked team got to chow down with such a prestigious athlete, but we certainly weren’t complaining! She answered all of our questions with a smile and useful insight, and was super nice and down to earth. We then headed to the Closing Ceremonies where all of the individual and team successes were honored.
Back at the hotel, the party was just getting started! A few of us made an appearance at the dance and “cut the rug” for a while, but before too long, all of us went up to our rooms to get packing for our early flight and few hours of sleep. We hit the sack at midnight only to wake up at 4:20 AM for our departure.
It is extraordinary to be a part of a team that comes from a place where a lot of our own school doesn’t even understand the sport. It takes dedication, passion, and true team players to make up a cross team. To earn our ticket to Portland was definitely something special and unforgettable. Our coaches are proud but we could never repay them for the athletes they have made us. Coach Salvas and Coach Wilson will forever hold a special place in our hearts, and we seniors don’t know what we will do without them or our team next year. Thanks for a great season, New Hampshire!
Shannon E. & Madeleine H.
Today was the first official day of our Nike Cross Nationals experience! Definitely an extraordinary day to remember, filled with new sights and new gear! We started the day with breakfast in the hotel atrium among the other competing teams. After preparing ourselves for the day ahead of us, we made our way across town to the Nike Headquarters where we got to hang out in the athlete lounge for a bit (a seriously cool room decked out with everything from Nike ping-pong tables to weird compression-massage legging things that were basically massage pants), and then get a grand entrance to the theater where we received our new Nike swag. After turning the corner to see our names on a locker with all the racing essential we could dream of – fresh kicks, warm up suits, backpacks, uniforms, etc. – we lost our minds with excitement, and quickly set out for our Thursday workout.
Before we even started our warm-up, we were astonished to exit the Tiger Woods building and see the Shalane Flanagan, Amy Cragg, and a few famous pros doing their workout on the field just fifteen feet from us! We ran through mossy wood-chip trails on our way to the infamous Michael Johnson track (that’s right, the track with the woods in the middle!), and almost missed it because the woods we were in barely broke for the five lane track to pass through them. With a rush of excitement we ditched the warm up and sprinted over to the giant oval of our dreams. We stopped by the entrance to lace up our new sneakers, only to see Galen Rupp and Mo Farah walk past us onto the track to do a workout! And not far behind them was the man, myth, and legend himself –Coach Alberto Salazar! Two of our teammates, Elise and Emmy, even got high fives from Rupp and Mo as we ran by them. We were in a runner’s wonderland, doing our workout at the same time as our favorite Olympians – it was unreal!
We made our way back to the hotel for lunch and relaxed for a few hours, trying on our new gear and uniforms. To wrap up our day, but really to kick off the event, we headed back to Nike HQ. We hung out in the Athlete Lounge a while longer, meeting a handful of elites and some other high school athletes. We made an epic mannequin challenge video where the seniors posed with Hassan Mead (!!!) and a few of the girls spent 15 minutes each in the “massage pants”. The girls also spent time getting signatures from all the pros on posters, running shoes, and backpacks. Elise even got her mom’s track spikes from high school signed! We then went to dinner in the Mia Hamm Building, where we got to meet Shalane Flanagan, fangirling and taking selfies with her.
After a more than satisfying dinner, we went to the Opening Ceremonies, where we got to see some epic Nike videos, pics of each team and individuals by region, and even a top-secret unveiling of Nike’s 2017 racing spikes! If we told you about it, we’d have to break your hard drive after – but they are super cool and we’ve never seen spikes like them! We are looking forward to another day of amazingness tomorrow, and can’t wait to see the course and continue to have our minds blown by this incredible experience.
All the best,
Captains Shannon E. and Madeleine H.
WOW, what a day! After waking up bright(or dark)and early at 4:20am we all met at the high school to take a “limo service”(it was a glorified van – but taller than our usual ones) to Logan International Airport. During the ride, we started our “vlogging” with GoPros and phones, and discovered new things about each other. A funny example was when one of our teammates, though we won’t name names, thought the lyric to Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” went:
“When the ‘stratosphere’ Comes creeping in…”
Flash forward to checking our bags and making it through security – after three bags were pulled out of the security line because of quarters, Ugg boots, and “suspicious” peanut butter, we boarded our first flight of the day and departed Boston at 8 AM. After a couple of hours of watching “Finding Dory” on the in-flight entertainment, failing to access the in-flight wifi to crack down on some homework, and getting sore necks from sleeping upright, we landed in the great state of Minnesota to catch our connection to Portland, Oregon. It was a quick connection, so we only had time to practice our (terrible) Minnesotan accents for a few minutes before we were in the air again.
Due to an unseasonable lack of headwind, we arrived in Portland 45 minutes early at around 1 PM Pacific Time (4 PM Eastern) – so early in fact, that we spent 15 minutes on the tarmac waiting for our gate to become available. Shortly after exiting the plane and passing the security checkpoint, we were greeted by our Northeast Region Team Manager – A great guy named Joe – and the Northeast Individual Manager, Matt. We grabbed our luggage with minimal struggle (only one girl accidentally took someone else’s purple suitcase), checked in with the Nike people, and were off on the bus to the hotel. We rode with a team of boys from Staples, CT – a.k.a the “Eli Moskowitz Fan Club”. What are the chances that they would have been talking about how their favorite college athlete got kicked in the face at Nationals while his former teammates boarded the same bus? After sharing some embarrassing middle school XC pictures of Eli with them, we arrived and checked into the Embassy Suites, splitting 7 girls between two rooms.
We ate some quick snacks, got directions from Joe for our afternoon run, and set out down the hill and across the train tracks. We had some trouble finding the running paths that were supposedly nearby, suffering through the longest lights known to man waiting to cross the busy streets, but we FINALLY found the paths and were able to run down them. Of course, the paths were covered in mud and flooded at parts, due to Oregon’s notorious rain showers, so there were a few shoe casualties in the muddy conditions, but there were successes along the run too. For example, we saw a competitor team running up behind us on the path, but luckily with a quick pace and some evasive puddle maneuvers, we were able to lose them. Now just to do it Saturday.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped into a local running store, Portland Running Company, hoping to snag some free stickers or something equally exciting. While we didn’t get any stickers, we did get some complimentary mini-Clif bars to snack on for our trouble, and we definitely hope to go back before leaving Oregon.
After our run, we all returned to our respective rooms and got showered up in preparation for dinner. We went to a great restaurant called Portland Seafood Company at the mall not far from the hotel, and once again ran into Eli’s Fan Club, the boys from Staples, CT. We all enjoyed great meals and then went to explore the mall for a while.
In a wicked cool candy store, we found a guy who was really, and we mean REALLY, good at making balloon animals. He made us a cross country runner figure, and we can’t wait to have “Bubble Buddy” supporting us for the rest of the week!
Overall, it was a super long, but extremely fun day, and we will all be hitting the hay very soon. It may only be 9:30 here, but it’s 12:30 at home, and after waking up so early, we are dead on our feet. We can’t wait for tomorrow though, when Nike Nationals will actually kick off, and the real excitement will start!
We are so honored to be here representing New Hampshire and Souhegan High School, and we will check back in tomorrow night to tell you all about our Thursday!
Captains Shannon E. and Madeleine H.