Runners plan for everything. The night before, they carefully pack their uniform and supplies for every eventuality. They obsessively review their race plan and rehearse contingencies and counter-contingencies. The bib is pinned precisely; the jersey is tucked neatly; the spikes are laced tightly. And then the gun goes off, and everything is chaos.
As the saying goes, races are not run on paper, and our Sectional race was full of surprises. For the second straight year, we were proud and fortunate to leave Stuart Sports Complex as champions. But while the results were the same, our script was an improvisation from previous races.
Take Jackson Jett (1st, 15:12). Over the past four years, the hard-charging senior has run races that seemed like instant-classics, but in the same season will throw in a clunker that fades from the memory faster than a David Spade movie. But Saturday, following the example of teammates Jake McEneaney and Matt Milostan, he won his first Varsity race. This was Jackson’s most complete performance from gunshot to chute, and he seems to be peaking at precisely the right moment.
Or consider Scott Anderson (8th, 15:30). In a season frustrated by injury and stride irregularities, Scott has lived with uncertainty from week to week about whether his body will respond to his commands. Everyone knows what Scott can do, yet, like last year, we waited anxiously to see his Sectional results. Seeing him returning to form has been one of the highlights of a dizzying season.
Then there’s Jeremy Hayhurst (11th, 15:36). Going into 2016, no one was talking about Hayhurst as a top-5 finisher at Sectionals, yet with each race he has stubbornly inserted himself into the conversation, bringing his times down week by week through sheer force of will. No one knows what he’s capable of at this point, yet no one is willing to bet against him.
The rest of our team submitted similarly quixotic results to greater or lesser degrees. Matt Milostan (2nd, 15:19) reminded Josh Mollway (3rd, 15:20) of his lethal kick. Ryan Kennedy (14th, 15:43) was hampered by a cold, while Jake McEneaney (16th, 15:48) was hampered by dehydration. Each of these athletes had carefully readied themselves for the moment, familiarizing themselves with every jot of the race. Yet like every other runner in the race, the 15 minutes between those three miles was a great unknown.
And that--ultimately-- is the thrill and terror of racing. Because it’s out of our control. Because anything can happen. All that you have is the intensity of your preparation, the fervor of your faith, and the tenacity of your bonds.
Next week, there’s a great cliff at the edge of the starting line. We’ve done everything imaginable to ready ourselves. Now all that’s left is the leap.
Results Daily Herald Article