NXN 2012 was crammed full of experiences impossible to get anywhere else, including the impossibly muddy course.
(Results, Photos, Videos)
The weekend-long event that is Nike Cross Nationals was amazing in many ways, and it was great to catch a glimpse of what the athletes experience. Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual race, things didn't go terribly well for North Carolina's two representatives. On a chilly and windy morning following a heavy storm, after a week of frequent rain, 400 runners ran through mud that, frankly, you had to be there to fully comprehend. Although the meet has become synonymous with the mud, I would like to point out that the crew responsible for preparing the course fought valiantly against insurmountable odds to try to keep things passable for the runners. Contrary to public opinion, meet management doesn't try to make the course muddy; it is built on and around a grassy field that is part of a golf course, and it is simply very susceptible to Portland's almost constant rain. The regular attendees all agreed, however, that this ended up being the sloppiest the course has been in the meet's history, and that is reflected in the times. In the boys' race, things were made even more difficult by a field that stayed tightly packed for the first two-thirds of the race (check out my race video below to see for yourself). Wesley Frazier (68th) and Ben Huffman (129th) both had a difficult time with the conditions, but I know that both of them still took away far more from the weekend than the mud took away from them. I hope you'll take the time to look through the highlights of my coverage below, and get a small idea of what an incredible experience this whole weekend is for the athletes involved.
Recap Articles by Steve Underwood:
The Day Before -- The Nike Experience:
Wesley Frazier Practicing the Hay Bales:
Boys Race Video:
Girls Race Video:
Boys Before & After Video:
Girls Before & After Video:
Finally, a few of my favorite photos from the meet:
Athletes were (mostly) serious about getting a feel for the course on Friday.
Ben Huffman (Providence Day) during introductions on race day, with the Southeast individuals.
Wesley Frazier (Ravenscroft, center) during introductions with the Southeast individuals.
The front of a seemingly endless horde of boys rolls over the series of four "Whoop-De-Doos" (artificial hills similar to a BMX course).
Girls' champions Sarah Baxter (CA), caked in mud, crossing one of two sets of hay bales on the double-loop course.
Nice awards, handed out by olympians and members of Team USA (such as Shalane Flanagan and Galen Rupp).
7-time girls' champion Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) accepts their team trophy.
Arcadia became the first-ever repeat NXN boys champion, having won in 2010.