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Stanford Cross Country: Cruising Out of the Gate

A conversational stroll through Golden Gate Park

California Governor Orders Mandatory Water Cuts As Drought Worsens Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Summer’s out, school’s in session (for some), and the parks are open. It’s XC season.

The men’s and women’s Stanford Cross Country squads opened up their respective seasons with a race through Golden Gate Park at the USF Invitational this past Saturday.

This meet was in no way supposed to be meaningful for the Cardinal. In fact, the teams have only practiced once since reporting last Thursday. NCAA rules dictate that the teams compete at least once within 21 days after the start of practice, and with Stanford’s first meet of somewhat significance not being until early October, the squads had to make it out to the course this Labor Day Weekend.

A few Stanford athletes from putting up stellar showings. Finishing 1 and 2 in the women’s 6K (6000m) race was Vanessa Fraser and Elise Cranny in 20:52.3s, having their times split by thousandths of a second.

The plan was to have the two begin at 5:37 mile pace and settle in to about 5:21, but as they were talking with 100m to go—yes, this is a talking pace for two All-American women, crazy right?—they shrugged their shoulders and took off for the podium.

“It’s at the end, why not sprint a little bit,” Fraser said afterwards.

On the men’s side, the #1 preseason ranked Cardinal by Flotrack ran as a pack and treated the 8K (8000m) race as no more than a workout, taking 21st through 27th place with the front finishing at 25:12.7s.

Chris Miltenberg, Stanford’s Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field and men’s cross country head coach, outlined and analyzed the strategy afterwards:

“The idea was just to run a very controlled tempo run together. Never let it get to a place where it gets anaerobic and chasing guys down. It was a great sign of where they're at where they can run 25 minutes for an 8K and basically have a conversation the whole way. That's what we want to see: staying under control, so we can get recovered and really get to work the next few weeks.”

So it seems as if this whole meet can be characterized by conversation, but the athletes know that this next month will include none of that. With both teams facing high expectations, they will look to use the upcoming month for high volume training to build the foundation that they hope will carry them to their goals this season.

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