Race: Empire Runners Cross Country 2010

The Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders have been fielding a women’s racing team this season, and we are making small steps toward getting a men’s team off the ground. To this end John McDougall and myself joined up with the ladies in Santa Rosa for a USATF Cross Country race. This happened to be the home turf of Carrie, a virtual acquaintance from the Runners’ World Online Forums, who I met in person for the first time.

I had not raced cross country before, and studied the course map with interest before going. The sections had names like “Rocky Roll” and “Gravelator” which all sounded a little challenging. So I showed up wearing my new trail shoes. Having looked at the course a bit I shamefacedly jogged back to the car to substitute something a little lighter. Part of the course was paved, and the rest was mostly smooth dirt and gravel wish some rocks and a couple of steep slopes to make it interesting. So this was basically trail racing only faster, being just 3.4 miles long. Perhaps this would not be too bad, although I was starting to regret having run 14 miles the day before.

The women raced first, the leader finishing in around 20 minutes. Nice. The depth or talent at these USATF events is quite impressive. Carrie was part of host club team, and put in a fast time. I remarked later that she was lucky I lacked a camera, since her “race-face” while kicking for the finish looked quite intimidating. She had a camera, and took the picture below.

The masters men started from the wide line and ran across the grass before joining a paved uphill path. I was startled by the crump crump sound of the cross-country spikes that some of my fellow runners were wearing. Back on the dirt and gravel, I realized that I had gone out too fast and this was a pretty high-caliber bunch I was with. I settled in and let an occasional runner pass me. My road shoes performed just fine until we reached a gravel path that ran down the back base of an earthen dam. I had to slow quite a bit to stay upright, allowing two runners to go by. Oh well. Things got better after that and I held my own for the second and third miles. Part of the loop was run twice, including that downhill, and one runner came by on the second descent. This ticked me off, so I stayed right on his shoulder on the single track that followed, pushing the pace from behind to wear down his kick. As we hit the paved trail again I passed him and managed to look like a proper runner at the finish.  Mid pack, but hey, most of these guys are younger than me.

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3 Responses to “Race: Empire Runners Cross Country 2010”


  1. 1 Loraine September 6, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Hey Jim, I haven’t checked in here for a while so nice to see 2 race reports up! Congratulations on the new x-c experience. Looks like a ‘not jogging’ photo!

  2. 2 jime2 September 7, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Hi Loraine, I only just put these up, been busy and they just sat there for a while. I’ll try to be quicker in future. Yup. Definite non-jogging mode there, although I felt like a jogger in that company!

  3. 3 Flo September 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Excellent photo and congratulations!! I’m impressed that you’re branching out and trying new things. It’s really cool. Hope you get some wear out of your new trail shoes (though I’m sure you’ll be doing some crazy trail race before too long). 🙂


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Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
10K43:44
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)

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