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Friday, October 26, 2007

More Mt. SAC reflections from Kenny Durell of Davis and Sarah Sumpter of Healdsburg

Playing a little catch up with last weekend's Mt. SAC Invitational, here are the reflections of Kenny Durell of Davis and Sarah Sumpter of Healdsburg. Durell is the lead runner for one of the San Joaquin's section best team following their 3rd. place finish last year at the Division 1 state final. His time of 15:31 at Mt. SAC is 2nd best time on the all time Davis list which dates back to 1985. After completing last year's season as the Davis 4th man, Durell has taken on the leadership role of the Davis team, both in running and as a mentor to his younger teammates.

Kenny Durell: I have been on the Davis High cross country team for four years and this is my fourth time going to Mt. SAC. Each year has brought vastly different results, both personally and team-wise, but I have enjoyed each and every road trip down to the fabled course. The entire team (71 out of a possible 100 strong) showed up at 5:45 AM on Friday morning (though some very committed runners chose to come on Thursday night and camp out in the parking lot) and we loaded up the buses and left by about 6:15. The ride down took about 9.5 hours and we did a short shake out run once we got the hotel.

The best part of the actual race was without a doubt when I crested Reservoir Hill and saw our huge Davis High flag being waved by all of our JV runners who had finished their races at 7:00 AM. I was being closely followed by another runner at this point, and the guys and girls on top of the hill really inspired me to push the downhill and hold him off at the end. The course is very physically demanding, though not so much because of the course's actual difficulty (the Yolo County Championships course and the two hills at Lagoon Valley are in my opinion tougher) but because the first mile is all flat and encourages runners to go out hot before any sort of elevation changes occur.

As well, the superb quality of the field year in and year out really distinguish the course and race. The switchbacks right after the first mile are very tough, if only because of the rapid change in gears to go from fast, flat running to uphill ascent. The downhills are really the keys to running well on the course, as this is where the most ground can be made up or gained. Someone running the course for the first time should definitely keep in mind and treat any flats as places to run a little bit faster and possibly pass other runners, as only comparatively marginal gains can be made by pushing hard on the uphills. My strategy before the race was to just race.

Running after such a long and draining bus trip less than 24 hours before the race is really hit-or-miss--you either react and adapt well or you struggle. Taking that into account, I knew that I was going to perform relatively well after feeling good in the first 800 meters. I let the rest of the race just happen, competed and ended up having a little bit more left at the end than I expected.

I truly relish every opportunity I am afforded to spend time with the members of the team; we always enjoy ourselves immensely and this year was no different. After the last race ends, everyones' minds turn to Disneyland, and amazingly, the team gear and tents get packed up quicker than they ever have been before.

Upon getting back, we spent some time in our rooms showering and playing Guitar Hero on the Playstation with a substantial amount of the team watching and joining in on the guitar shredding, and then after a short talk by Coach Gregg and the parents, we were let free to roam and do as we wished with the rest of the evening.

A large group of us hung out together, and as the night progressed, the groups invariably became larger as other team members walking around would join others in line. The night at Disneyland was awesome, and although we went back a little bit early this year on account of all-around exhaustion, the overall experience could not have been more amazing or magical.
Kenny Durell


Sarah Sumpter of Healdsburg has enjoyed a breakthrough Cross Country season for her with numerous victories and course records this fall. She just recently broke the course record on the Martinelli Ranch in Petaluma this past Wednesday, running a sizzling 17:38. She not only defeated Jacque Taylor of Casa Grande but had the fastest time of the day for BOTH girls AND boys. At the Mt. SAC Invitational, she recorded the fastest time of the day on Friday and finished tied with the 8th fastest overall time (17:27) despite running unchallenged and on the warmer racing day.

1) Was this your first experience at Mt. SAC? If not, how many years have you attended the meet?
This was my first time running at Mt. SAC, and it was an incredible experience. To have so many runners of such a high caliber all in one place truly inspired us (our team) to step up our game.


2) Transportation to the meet, drive or fly?
Our team toughed it out on a 9-hour car ride to the meet.

3) Best part of the Mt. SAC Invitational?
One of the most exciting moments for me was coming down Reservoir Hill at the end of the race and hearing the announcer shouting my name over the intercom. In that moment I was so determined to finish with the fastest time that I could, having that outside voice recognize me only gave me a little extra mental kick to finish hard.

4) Describe the course for runners who have never run on it.
The first mile is smooth sailing and pretty much ideal for getting a good lead. But the second you hit the first mile marker, be prepared to zip up some quick hills because they crop up instantly. Basically, if you can focus on charging up the two remaining hills and using the downhill portions as opportunities to speed up/gain momentum, you should be able to
finish strong. This course will make you work, but you can work it out right back if you’re determined.

5) What was your strategy before the race?
My strategy wasn’t all that specific: get a good lead in the first mile of the race (but don’t go out too terribly hard – remember those hills), maintain an even pace on upward slopes, and finish in under 18 minutes.

6) Did you get to do any fun activities while down there?
Considering the long trip we had to make to and from the meet, we didn’t get to do much sight-seeing or vacationing, but our team had a good night of food and celebrating back at our hotel after race.

Thanks so much for your interest, it’s been an awesome season.
Sarah

Thank you Kenny and Sarah-AJC!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Mt.Sac course changed in 1998. Since the course is now shorter, use a 18 second conversion (for boys) to equate the pre-renovation course to the post -renovation course. More information can be found in this article.
http://prep.caltrack.com/2001crosscountrynotes/011020Mt.SACAlteredCourseRG.htm

Albert Caruana said...

Thank you for the information. The link is not working though. Can you post again?