Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Soggy Heps Saturday

TigerBlog's sneakers have dried out. Finally.

It took, oh, close to 60 hours or so to get there.

TigerBlog wore the sneakers Saturday to the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships. He doesn't have boots or anything like that, so he was stuck with wearing sneakers.

He has three pairs of sneakers. One is bright orange. One is white. One is a combination of orange and white. They are, if you haven't guessed, standard issue Princeton Athletics sneakers.

Anyway, he chose the oldest and dirtiest - the orange and white ones - and then put on about four layers top and bottom. Then it was off to Washington Road Fields.

The rain was falling pretty hard all Saturday morning. And yet, at one point, TigerBlog decided it was stopping, so he put his umbrella back in his car. He's not sure why he did that, as all he did was end up soaked completely through, since the rain only got harder after that.

TigerBlog has attended something in the neighborhood of 13 of the last 14 Heps cross country meets, either at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City or recently at Washington Road. At one point at Van Cortlandt Park, the Ivy League races were only part of the day, along with the MAAC and Big East.

At its best, Heps is about as good as it gets in Ivy League sports. Eight schools. Two races. Two Ivy League titles. The women finish the 6K course in a little over 20 minutes. The men take a little longer to go 8K.

While all this is going on, each school has a tent on the side, completely loaded with food, drinks and camaraderie.

It's always the same weekend, too, and always right around Halloween. TigerBlog has been there on  many picture-perfect clear sunny autumn days and had a great time.

Saturday? Not picture-perfewhen Princetonct. Not even close. 

It wasn't as bad as the 2011 Heps, when the course was covered in snow. It was close though.

TB bailed on the 2011 Heps, the only one he's missed since he first went back in 2000 or 2001 or whenever it was, and this time he wasn't about to let a little thing like heavy, heavy rain and temps in the low 40s stop him.

TigerBlog doesn't know much about cross country strategy and training or even, for that matter, the preferred weather to run in. His sense is that the runners were more comfortable Saturday than they would have been in sunny and 80 degrees, though they probably could have done without the rain.

The women's race was first. The start is along Washington Road near the tent, and the runners then disappear down the course. Eventually they come back and run down the chute to the finish.

On this day, the runners were covered in mud as they came to the end. TigerBlog was standing right at the finish, but he couldn't see up the chute because of all of the people who were smart enough not to put their umbrellas back in their cars.

TB could hear the cheers though. And he knew they were for Princeton sophomore Megan Curham, who won the women's race by nearly four seconds.

And then, just as clearly as Curham had won, so too was it clear that Dartmouth had won the team championship.

Usually TigerBlog isn't very good at calculating the team scores as the runners come home. This time it was easy. Maybe not as easy as it was when Princeton's women went 1-2-3-4-5, but clear nonetheless.

The men's race started about 30 minutes after the women were done. The men run longer, start further back and then make one loop past the starting line before disappearing on the other side of the course.

Princeton's Michael Sublette finished second, 1.1 seconds behind Penn's Michael Awad. It was the first time Sublette had been Princeton's top finisher in a race, and he chose the right time for it.

Just as it was obvious that the Dartmouth women won, it was also pretty clear that Princeton's men had won. And that's exactly how it went, as Princeton won easily, with 30 points to 74 for runner-up Cornell.

TigerBlog thinks that the event moves back to Van Cortlandt Park next year, which is a shame, since it's such a perfect fit at Washington Road. Either way, his plan is to be there for it.

And for the weather to be a little better. Okay, a lot better.

Results? Well, Princeton did have the women's individual champ while coming in second, while the men won the team championship.

It was a pretty good day to be a Tiger. Even a soaked one.

No comments: