Article by: Matt Sicat
The glare that hits your eyes as you round the corner of the track. It’s exhausting to put one foot in front of the other; your lungs and heart are tired and your legs feel heavy. You’re drenched in sweat as you finish the lap – but you realize you have another 2 kilometers to go. Even so, you kick your feet up and keep going. Nothing’s going to stop you now.
This is Cross Country.
Bearcat Cross Country runners endure some of the most grueling training in school. They run laps upon laps everyday, pushing themselves to reach the fastest times possible. While many would shudder at the idea of running for kilometers on end, it seems that more than anything, running is about pushing yourself mentally, not physically.
“[Cross] is an activity that pushes you mentally and physically everyday,” says Senior runner Olivia. Many other runners agree with this statement; Senior captain, Rebecca, explains that “cross country is all about mentality and patience.” In fact, the sport is so mentally taxing that Head Coach Respecki states that “Cross is 90% mental and only 10% physical.”
Despite this, a common misconception about cross is that it’s easy because unlike other sports, the only thing you do is run. There is no shooting or scoring as the only goal is to cross the finish line. Many runners even seem offended at this statement. “Cross country is one of the most difficult sports”, three season athlete Junior Stefan states, “unlike other sports, there are no breaks during a race, so you have to keep on going and pushing yourself.” Furthermore, the very dynamic of the Cross Country team showcases the toughness of the sport. “In other sports [athletes stay] until the last day of cuts, while in cross people gradually disappear and quit weeks before the final cuts”, Rebecca says, “by the last day of cuts, you are left with the strongest and [most] patient runners that manage to get through the whole season”.
Despite all of the grueling work and long practices, many Cross Country runners love the sport and the benefits that accompany it: “Running really helps your stamina and endurance and you also get to meet new people” Stefan notes. Also, it is evident that merely finishing a race is a reward on its own as both Rebecca and Olivia agree that the feeling of crossing the finish line is simply “irreplaceable”.
While Bearcat runner Molly Bailey holds the IASAS record for women’s 3k and 5k, the entire Bearcat Cross Country team is working harder than ever. With IASAS Cross Country in Manila in just two weeks, the ISM Cross Country team has its eyes set on the prize. Only time will tell what the IASAS holds for the ISM Cross Country team, but the future seems quite bright.