Champion Maggie McCormick after surprising Jungle Run victory
The Jungle Run prides itself on its unique nighttime running experience, and the Championship Girls' race delivered on that as the start time kept getting delayed further into the night.
The South View race crew worked alongside EMS workers to help clear two injured runners off the course, giving the girls thirty extra minutes at the starting line before the gun went off.
Girls patiently waiting for EMS to clear the course for the final race to start
Once the race got underway, the extra time didn't seem to slow anyone down.
In a classic sight for anyone who has been to Hope Mills for the Jungle Run before, the Chapel Hill girls formed a tight pack that commanded the front of the race. At the one-mile mark, they had six girls in the top 10 of the race.
A year ago, the Tigers had six in the top 10 and seven in the top 15 at the finish line en route to a 56-point margin of victory over the next best team. Despite graduating four of their top six from that race, they were following the same script on Saturday night.
If the team result was unsurprising, the individual battle made up for it.
Carrboro's Hannah Preisser set the pace early, and heading into the back half of the course she seemed to be pulling away from the field for a solo effort. But as the runners came out from from around the track to head to the baseball fields, Maggie McCormick of Harnett Central started surging.
By the time the leaders came out of the baseball fields for the last loop, McCormick and Preisser were shoulder-to-shoulder. They passed each other back and forth as they closed in on the final 800 meters.
Entering the track with 300 to go, however, McCormick was all alone. Nonetheless, she threw down a kick that would've shaken anybody who had managed to stay nearby as she crossed the finish line in a comfortable 18:21. Preisser was the next to enter the stadium as she finished second in 18:40.
Impressively, McCormick's time was a personal record by one minute and forty eight seconds. Even more astounding was the fact that on her way to victory she ran 3:03 faster than her time at the Jungle Run last season. McCormick's time will also go down as the 5th fastest in Jungle Run history as well as a new overall state lead.
Ryann Aycock, an eighth grader from Cary Christian School, had quietly stayed with the pack throughout the race. In a surprising finish, the middle schooler held off the senior Chapel Hill duo of Maggie Springer and Lilly Crook to round out the top three.
Carrboro's 2-4 finished at 13, 14, 15, but it wasn't enough to hold off Chapel Hill's 50 second 1-5 split.
The win marked Chapel Hill's fifth straight title in the race. Another impressive measure of their consistency is that the pack-running program now has the four fastest 1-5 splits in race history.
In a race that went late into Saturday night, the competitors delivered on the perfect race to cap off the 2018 Jungle Run.