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Hal Harkness
12-04-2012, 12:26 PM
Must Read!

http://www.womentalksports.com/items/read/12/1471175/tough-mudder-the-deskilling-of-the-cross-country-runner

Brad Peters
12-04-2012, 08:11 PM
That was an interesting read. I was wondering many of the same things as I watched the event online this past weekend.

I think Nike has a terrific meet, great concept and has tried to bring the "team" concept to a national championship which Footlocker has never done. I was fortunate to have an athlete compete at NXN in 2009 and 2010, and while '09 was near frozen, '10 was very muddy, difficult in parts to keep one's footing. Our athlete was about 2 minutes slower that day than he was the week earlier in qualifying. In an interview I heard this weekend with a girl runner who also ran in 2010, she said, "I thought 2010 was bad, it was nothing compared to today."

I am curious to know what the folks at Nike have said about the conditions and their effect on the "prestige" of the meet. Some mud is one thing, but when a "national champion" can't break 17:00 or 19:00 in their peak condition, what's the point? The article is right: No other national-calibre meet (much less a championship) would be held in those conditions, especially when those conditions are likely to be the norm, not the exception. It might have been a unique experience for a few years, but surely the novelty will wear off, won't it?

The NXN experience (all weekend) is great for the kids, and a team championship I think is great for the sport. I really think Nike has done something great with the concept, and our athlete really enjoyed himself, even with the crappy conditions. Certainly Nike's financial investment in the meet is tremendous. That said, I wonder if there's a "breaking point" when teams no longer yearn to attend because the conditions will likely be similar to what they were on Saturday. Perhaps most tellingly, it may be the coveted individuals, who still have a choice between NXN and FL, who decide running -- racing! -- on solid ground is a better way to gauge how fast they are when they are supposed to be at their fastest. (I wonder what Sarah Baxter was thinking when asked by an interviewer if she'd be back next year to defend her title by responding, "Maybe.")

Time will tell I guess.

Selbyphotography
12-05-2012, 06:12 AM
Running English schools Cross Country , I wonder how many times Radcliffe had the luxury of a dry course? Her wet course experience certainly helped her out in 2001. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZk_xqRzMJk

I can't help but wonder if Sarah Baxter might look back one day and be very thankful for the experience she gained in the NXN 2012.

Doug Soles
12-05-2012, 07:26 AM
A couple thoughts from the coach of a team that bombed:

1. The Nike experience is amazing! From a kids or a coaches standpoint, the event is second to none. We were very excited and thankful to be a part of it!

2. The people involved; Rich Gonzalez, Paul Limmer, Joe Lanzalotto, etc. all were amazing and really are great to be around as well as conversing with the other amazing coaches and athletes from around the country. If you are a XC geek like so many of us are, there isn't a better place to be that weekend, hands down!

3. My personal opinion, and I state it as just that, an opinion, is that Nike gets almost everything right, except 1 thing. The course. I liken it to being in an algebra class all semester only to be handed a calculus final at the end. Doesn't make sense to have such random course to try to discern something that shouldn't be random at all.

4. The kids have a blast. One of the many posts I read over the weekend stated that the kids having fun means it is a success. I tend to lean more towards another comment that was made about the kids would have fun at Nike if the course were through a shopping mall. When the race becomes secondary to the event, then I think we have lost sight of the overall goal which is to discern a true national champion based on a standard type course we have all focused on all year.

5. Now I say this realizing I did nothing to prepare my kids specifically for the course conditions. Their goal was to win state and qualify to Nike. That is what I coached them to do. We didn't focus on Nike until the Monday before the race. Their "off" performance is my fault and I recognize that. I do not think we would have had a sub-par performance on a regular style XC course. My kids all said the same thing, they couldn't perform in the mud. They felt fine aerobically, just couldn't go fast due to the course. I recognize we all had the same conditions, this just happened to be our issue with why we believe we performed poorly.

6. I think Nike just lost their top individuals for the future. Looking at top performances by many of the best individuals (especially boys), I wouldn't send kids up there if they could make Footlocker. Not because of any other reason than a random course. Everything else is amazing.

7. All of the coaches I asked if they would return if it were an invitational all said no. All said they have to go because of the "event" status for their kids. I feel the same way, my kids would be devastated if I said no to going.

So I'm left with either changing my plan to focus on how to run well at Nike should we make it again, or to continue to focus on our CIF Finals and State Meet and hope for a dry course at Nike and accept the results if it is crappy.

Again, these are just my observations/opinions from my experience up there. Not far off from the opinions I had after our 13th place finish we had in 2010. The event is amazing and I'm sure we will shoot to return next year. I personally just wish Nike would buy a piece of land and build the Alberto Salazar Cross Country Complex with a super drainable course. Now that would be sweet!

Doug

Albert Caruana
12-05-2012, 11:44 AM
Here are my comments:

6. I think Nike just lost their top individuals for the future. Looking at top performances by many of the best individuals (especially boys), I wouldn't send kids up there if they could make Footlocker. Not because of any other reason than a random course. Everything else is amazing.

Doug

It's a shame that kids have to decide between the two events. NXN should be the national team championship race (which was the original intent) and the Footlocker meet should have all the top individuals so that we can determine the true individual national champion. It's a real shame that Baxter won't compete at Footlocker and potentially break the Balboa Park course record. What other individuals were pilfered from the Footlocker meet by Nike?

Doug Soles
12-05-2012, 12:07 PM
Albert,

I don't particularly think Nike is doing a bad thing by having individuals there, in fact I think Nike is near perfect in their approach to what they do. Again my issue is with the course, and I would have had this issue if we finished 2nd this year as our place wasn't the issue (although it was very frustrating for me). The irratating thing is as a fan of XC I wanted to see who would be better between Montoya, Burcham, Leingang, etc. The course is such an entity many years that it almost defeats the purpose for why they are there. My hope is that Nike will start to understand that they don't need to have a mud "gimmick" to make their meet special. They have hit a home run, they just keep forgetting to touch home plate...

yesstiles
12-05-2012, 09:34 PM
It's a shame that kids have to decide between the two events. NXN should be the national team championship race (which was the original intent) and the Footlocker meet should have all the top individuals so that we can determine the true individual national champion. It's a real shame that Baxter won't compete at Footlocker and potentially break the Balboa Park course record. What other individuals were pilfered from the Footlocker meet by Nike?

Why won't she compete at Footlocker Nationals? I thought the top individuals at Nike get to go to San Diego?

Albert Caruana
12-05-2012, 09:41 PM
Why won't she compete at Footlocker Nationals? I thought the top individuals at Nike get to go to San Diego?

She didn't compete last year. Is she this year?

ScottJoerger
12-06-2012, 06:41 AM
In some regions, including California, kids have to choose between NXN and Footlocker because the Footlocker Regional conflicts with NXN. There was a year or two when NXN first included individuals that Footlocker allowed a couple at-large spots based on NXN finishes. However, they discontinued that some time ago, so California athletes have to decide. Sarah chose NXN so, unfortunately, isn't running Footlocker.

JStepp
12-06-2012, 10:13 AM
Why won't she compete at Footlocker Nationals? I thought the top individuals at Nike get to go to San Diego?

They did away with this a couple of years ago.

yesstiles
12-06-2012, 12:24 PM
They did away with this a couple of years ago.

That's absurd. The cream of the crop shouldn't have to choose. I wonder why they reversed it.

Albert Caruana
12-06-2012, 12:41 PM
That's absurd. The cream of the crop shouldn't have to choose. I wonder why they reversed it.

I might be wrong but it sounds like a pissing contest between Nike and Footlocker.