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Thread: Rain course?!?

  1. #11
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    Regardless whether it's going to rain Saturday (I'm hoping not, weather services are giving contradictory info as of today), I think that the question of the rain course being a fair assessment of the abilities of our teams is a very important issue. It surely isn't a cross country course by any stretch of the imagination.

    I'm with Jay and Liam in thinking that the rain course does not test what we've trained all season/year for. I also don't think that (hypothetically) losing to another team by one point (which happens so often in our sport) after one or more runners slides/falls trying to climb a muddy hill is a fair assessment either. I throw in my vote for some sort of hybrid course.

    This is most definitely a question that needs more discussion. Maybe after a couple of years on another course we will have a better idea of the changes that can be/need to be made.
    Salesian (SS)
    Boyle Heights Distance Project
    "By Endurance We Conquer"

  2. #12
    Going a bit against the grain here...

    It doesn't make much of a difference, especially for the boys, whether the regular course is run in mostly dry conditions or the rain course is run if it's wet. Fitness prevails and the top teams will advance either way. I'll concede that the teams on the bubble fighting for the last 1 or 2 qualifying spots could potentially change depending on the course, but that's racing.

    The girls are affected a bit more than the boys at this level of development so if a team has truly geared training for the steep up and downhills of Mt SAC that's a bummer to be presented with the rain course.

    Watch the video that Doug linked earlier in this thread and it's pretty clear why you don't race the regular course in sloppy conditions; it's no longer about fitness, the hills are just too steep to be run when slick/muddy.

    Yes, XC is fun with mud and all that, but it's difficult to wear the proper spikes if part of the course is paved and part of it isn't.

    Ultimately, I think it's our job as coaches to prepare our kids to race the other kids no matter what the course is.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Wiley View Post
    Going a bit against the grain here...

    It doesn't make much of a difference, especially for the boys, whether the regular course is run in mostly dry conditions or the rain course is run if it's wet. Fitness prevails and the top teams will advance either way. I'll concede that the teams on the bubble fighting for the last 1 or 2 qualifying spots could potentially change depending on the course, but that's racing.

    The girls are affected a bit more than the boys at this level of development so if a team has truly geared training for the steep up and downhills of Mt SAC that's a bummer to be presented with the rain course.

    Watch the video that Doug linked earlier in this thread and it's pretty clear why you don't race the regular course in sloppy conditions; it's no longer about fitness, the hills are just too steep to be run when slick/muddy.

    Yes, XC is fun with mud and all that, but it's difficult to wear the proper spikes if part of the course is paved and part of it isn't.

    Ultimately, I think it's our job as coaches to prepare our kids to race the other kids no matter what the course is.


    Bravo...Could not have said it better.

  4. #14
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    Doug's video is a good example of a poor decision by a meet manager. However, it in no way remotely represents the conditions at Mt. Sac in the rain. In order for you to have a muddy slope, there has to be enough soft dirt present or some source of loosely packed dirt that would slide onto the course. The hard-packed running paths on the hills and the cow-trampled surrounding hill sides + trees and vegetation help the trails hold up in the rain. Every year we have used the rain course, I have voiced opposition. Each time, I have been told that the mud in the Gauntlet and Valley Loop was the deciding factor. No mention of safety concerns on the hills.
    Common sense and self preservation will slow the kids a little on the downhills, however, I don't see it as unsafe.
    I would gladly design a hybrid course. It would take a day or two, but it is not exactly rocket science.

  5. #15
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    IIRC, last year the conditions on the weekend of CIF Finals were very similar to the weekend of Footlocker at Mt. Sac, yet the rain course was not utilized at Footlocker and everything was just fine.

  6. #16
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    ClemDog doesn't know what he's talking about with soft dirt or loosely packed dirt the only reason one would slip when the surface is wet. Let's see, this is my 21st year at managing at Mt. Sac and probably 20 years prior to that on the management team for the City Prelims and Finals at Pierce College. Both courses are run on clay and are totally similar in what happens when the surface becomes saturated and will not longer absorb any more liquid. The Valley Loop is the lesser of all the evils as it fills with runoff and just becomes slippery. The hills, both up and down are the real safety points. The total lose of traction causes runners to lose balance/control and bad things begin to happen. There is also the problem of clay sticking to shoes like super glue at some point.

    The decision whether to use the rain course or not is very easy to make when you're not responsible for the well being of a lot of young people.

  7. #17
    i'll have to go with grampa harkness here, even though i have no horses in the race this weekend. there were some athletes--not mine, mind you--during one of the rain course days the last couple of years who attempted to run up the switchbacks while warming down, and they literally could not make it up the hill. multiply that by 16 teams over 10 races, and it could definitely spell trouble.

    i also ran the footlocker coaches/supporters race last year; while the raceday conditions were only drizzly/misty, the course had definitely suffered from the previous days' rains. no one got hurt that i know of, but it was a minefield of ruts and poor footing that made the downhills especially difficult to navigate.

    so, the difficulty in preparing for this meet during drizzly conditions is being able to accurately predict during course setup that it would only be slightly misty and remain that way for several hours; however, if any period of even moderate rain occurs during the races, i believe it could absolutely be disastrous...

  8. #18
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    Could we at least make the damn rain course 3-miles or 5000 meters? Running a 2.91 mile rain course because the Mt. Sac course is 2.91 miles makes absolutely no sense.
    Note to self: no one cares

  9. #19
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    I remember they used to bring out sawdust or woodchips to temper the course after rains. And at footlocker they had those huge air blowers going. Nevertheless, all the weather models show 0% chance of rain Saturday, with the big rain day being Thursday. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

  10. #20
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    The rain course distance is not mirrored to the regular course, it's that distance because that's how Mt. Sac designed it and when we all found out it was too long after the first running, the only way to shorten it was to reduce the turn around loop in the soccer parking lot and because of the concrete barriers there is only one place to move the turn around.

    Footlocker is a Mt. Sac event as well as the Invitational in October. They have whatever personnel and financial resources they wish to expend on the course in weather prep, we don't. That simple.

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