International & American Races Owned by Team Carolina


It's never to early to begin planning your 2008 summer!


Check out the videos.



The American Race! Both teams went into the race with high hopes. The talk of many of the coaches was how good North Carolina was, both boys and girls. The boys were obvious favorites, but the girl were going to be in a battle with the team from Illinois.


The girls race was first and they ran very well. Early on, there was a 3 person break away, 2 of which were NC athletes. Sarah Willingham led the break and Rachel Park was following close behind. Sarah gradually stretched out her lead during the 2nd loop to win by about 30 seconds. She ran 19:30ish, results haven't been posted yet. Rachel finished in 3rd in about 20:05. Lauren Strapp slowly moved up and ended up finishing 6th overall, an improvement from 2 days before. Lauren ran just over 21:00. Powers Gatlin and Maggie Gigler came in 4th and 5th for the team and Amanda Helm was right behind them.


In the 16 & under age group, Sarah won, Rachel was 3rd, and Lauren was 6th. Powers finished 10th in the 17 & over age group. The scores were announced that night at dinner. The girls team finished in 2nd place with 49 points. Illinois scored 41 points to edge our team. Nebraska/Iowa finished 3rd with 75 points.


The boys race took off and our team started off slowly, as discussed. They moved up during the entire race and totally dominated the competition.


Jonathan Sunde had the lead with about 600 meters to go, but a youngster from California came up in the final 100m to win. I'm not sure where this kids kick came from to be honest with you. Sunde ran 16:31 for 2nd place. Clay Sankey and Alex Taylor ran together for the entire race, finshing 6th and 7th respectively. Both improved upon their performances from the previous race. Clay ran 16:46 and Alex 16:47. Trey McCain moved up the most during the race and ended up finishing 9th overall. Wyatt Freeman was the team's #5 man and finished 12th overall, I believe. Chris Bailey was behind him in 13th.


In the 16 & under race, Alex Taylor was 3rd overall and Anthony Kilar was 7th. The boys took half the top 10 in the 17 & over competition. Sunde was 1st, Sankey 3rd, Trey was 5th, and Wyatt 9th, and Chris 10th. DOMINATE!


The team won the large team competition with 22 points. 2nd place scored 78 and third place scored 93. Not even close.


After the race, that night, we had a very nice Awards Ceremony where the Carolina's team represented well.  


Our free day in Australia was a blast. Well, for the majority of the group it was. The skydivers ended up being stranded at the hotel due to weather. They were supposed to go the following day right after the race . . . went out, Alex even went up in the plane and due to drizzle, were unable to jump . . . again. They were pretty bummed.


Anyway, my group went into the bush and rainforests. We each received a boomerang and were able to practice throwing it as well. After some hardcore four-wheeling, we tried cracking a whip. Ehsan was a beast at it, I wasn't.


We had lunch at a Farm Resort, really good food. Then we headed deeper into the mountains and finally arrived in the rainforests where we walked through the canapy of trees, climbed inside a Strangler tree, and up to the top of the canapy, too. Sarah climbed higher than anyone our tour guide had ever seen, her mom wasn't too happy about that. They have bouncy bridges held up by cables that take you right through the trees, very cool. 




Check out the results


North Carolina & South Carolina rolled today during the International competition. There were no team scores as the Aussies don't calculate those scores. They also don't measure their courses, so please don't assume this was a 5K, as we really have no idea. The course was relatively flat except for the mountain climb which had to be done twice. Check the pictures for a look at the "Staircase to Heaven". However, if they did, Team Carolinas would have dominated the boys and probably squeaked out the girls over Illinois. The American race is on Monday, so we'll see how the team competition goes then.


Alex Taylor of Providence and Anthony Kilar of East Forsyth led off the comp for the teams. Alex took an early lead and was later passed by a Californian kid. Alex held on for 2nd place and Anthony, with very steady running, took 6th place in the 16 & under competition.


The girls then took the course and Sarah Willingham of North Henderson blasted the other girls in her race. Sarah ran 19:52 which was almost a full minute faster than her nearest competitor. She looked incredible and should do quite well on Monday. Lauren Strapp of Leesville Rd. also ran well, finishing 6th in the race.


The boys 17 & over race began shortly after and our large group of boys played it cool for the first trip up the mountain. On the 2nd loop, Jonathan Sunde of Charlotte Catholic took over the race and opened up a large margin for the victory. Clay Sankey of Providence Day and Trey McCain of Gilbert (SC) finished 6th and 7th respectively. Also in the top 10 was Chris Bailey of Ardrey Kell. Providence Day's Wyatt Freeman and Ehsan Akbari finished 11th and 15th, just outside the top 10.


Rachel Park of Cary Academy continued the winning ways for Team Carolina as she took over early and won the 17 & over girl's race. Rachel had the 3rd fastest time of the day, but we'll hope she and Sarah can work together in the race on Monday for a 1,2 finish!


After the races, we visited the Q1 Tower, the largest resedential building in the world. 77 stories, and over 1,000 ft. high. We had lunch at it's base and then went to the observation deck at the top. Amazing! Powers celebrated her birthday today. One she'll never forget.


Tomorrow is a free day, most will be hitting up the bush and rainforest for a 4-wheel drive tour. 6 brave souls will be jumping out of a plane and skydiving from 12,000 ft. in the air! Moms, I'll let them reveal who they are. 




Photo: Yesterday at the Wildlife Sanctuary we found Prefontaine. Obviously he's still alive by the picture and hasn't aged a bit. With him, but not pictured, was also: Elvis, Biggie, & Tupac.


The 2nd full day in Australia was great. We got in a nice run again on the beach, easy as we are preparing for our first race tomorrow. Tomorrow the athletes will be competing against teams from Australia and other states in the US. Should be fun!


After the run we headed to a giant theme park called Dream World. The kids had a blast as they road all sorts for rides. The Claw was a fan favorite for the adventurous ones. Myself, well, I went upside down on a rollercoaster for the first time ever, pretty sad for a 29 year old, yes.


Afterwards we hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for a nice meal, then back to the hotel. Tucking the kids in a bit early tonight since we have an early morning and hour drive up to Brisbane where we will race tomorrow.


It's been some time since I wrote because we've been traveling quite a bit. Let's see. We had a really nice workout in the park on our 2nd day in Hawaii, kids looked good, we should do well as a team.

We hiked to the Diamond Head crater and took some pretty sweet pictures. They'll be posted at a later time.


The trip to Australia was FUN! About a 10 hour flight from Honulu to Sydney, then Sydney to Brisbane, then we drove from Brisbane to the Gold Coast.


Our first day in Australia was pretty cool. We got up and ran on the beach then took off for a Wildlife Sanctuary. Hung out with kangaroos, saw some National Geographic action, and saw many other animals (pics to come later).


The kids are all hanging out right now as it is about 9:00 pm, 14 hours ahead of NC. We're repping NC well, don't worry about that, or I guess I should say, "No worries!"



Early morning run around a park and a zoo in Waikiki at 6:45 led to many smiles. Most of the group decided to simply hang out on the beach and check out the Marketplace. The Marketplace has everything from mini-surfboards to jewelry to brass knuckles to "yukes". A few chose to check out the Volcanic crater, take surfing lessons, and run again. 


We also had our team pictures taken. I think almost every team decided to wear red uniforms, that'll make it tough on raceday.


At 4:15 we met up in the lobby to ride to Germaine's Luau. Our guide, "Gorgeous" Georgie was by the far the best guide out of the 14. She broke it down like no other. The boys and girls shook their stuff on stage and showed some of the locals how to hula "Carolina" style.


I believe the trip across the country and half-way across the Pacific is beginning to take a toll. Energy comes in waves for everyone at this point. We're all looking foward to a good night's sleep.



We left Charlotte at about 10:00am est. standard time and finally reached our destination of Waikiki by about 9:30, Hawaiin time. So that means about 3:30 est. standard time. The ladies hung out in their rooms and prepared for sleep and the guys went out in search for food.


So far the kids on the trip are getting along great, besides Jonathan Sunde pounding his fist in the direction of the Michigan team. All in good fun! Here's one more list of who's here:

North Carolina

Johnathan Sunde

Alex Taylor

Chris Bailey

Joseph Jones

Clay Sankey

Anthony Kilar

Ehsan Akbari

Wyatt Freeman

Rachel Park

Lauren Strapp

Sarah Willingham

Powers Gatlin

Maggie Gigler

South Carolina 

Amanda Helm

Matthew Helm

Trey McCain

George Simpson

Milton Tyus


As I type this, it is 6:20 am and we're getting ready to head out for our first team run. We're going to hit up the beach and a park nearby. Afterwards, breakfast and our team picture. I'll try to post a team picture ASAP.