By: Kate Queeney, USATF-NE XC Committee Member

 

Photo Credit: Scott Mason Photography

Photo Credit: Scott Mason Photography

Sunday, Sept. 7 marks the kickoff to the 2014 USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix series, with the Greater Boston Track Club XC Invitational in Wellesley, MA. An updated list of the series scoring rules and awards structure can be found here.

Before jumping into the upcoming series, let’s remind ourselves of the 2013 series results. Starting with the women’s side, GBTC pulled out a decisive victory at the final, championship meet in Franklin Park last November to break a tie with Western Mass Distance Project and take the series title. Millennium Running burst onto the scene halfway through the season and made a decisive run, finishing a strong third place with only three races under their belts (singlets?). WMDP ran uncontested in the masters division for much of the season but scored a convincing win over six other teams at the championship meet to take the series title. In the senior division, Greater Derry Track Club scored the series win despite losing the championship to Cambridge Sports Union. Liberty AC stood alone atop the 60+ podium. Individual series winners were Sydney Fitzpatrick of New Balance Boston in the open division, Dana Parrot of WMDP in masters and Anne Hird of Ronald McDonald House of Providence in the 50+ division.

Many of last year’s competitors will toe the line this Sunday, and we asked them for their thoughts on what makes cross country (and this series) so special. It’s generally not hard to convince distance runners of the joys of cross country, but Anne Hird put it both succinctly and artfully: “It is running in its purest form. Times don’t matter, because each course is different; it is all about head-to-head racing.” That head-to-head racing is enhanced by the series format; as Anne points out, there’s a certain “camaraderie that comes from running against the same group throughout the series.” (This writer can attest to the special camaraderie of being passed by Anne at about the 2-mile mark of almost every race.)

Dana Parrot probably speaks for many of us when she says that her favorite memory of last year’s season was the final, championship race: “I was terrified and thrilled to be at the starting line with some of my former teammates (when I lived in New England almost 20 years ago).  My speed may be lacking compared to back then, but my heart is still in the game.”

If this still doesn’t have you digging through the mudroom for your spikes, GBTC would like to whet your appetite for cross country with. . . pie. That’s right, pie, at the first race of the series; not really much more to say. See you there!

Stay tuned for more updates and a men’s 2013 recap too!