MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- More than 75 runners from Marine bases across the nation competed in the 2005 All-Marine Cross Country Championships at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Dec. 10.
The race is set up to recruit runners for the All-Marine Sports Regional Running Program and was only the second competition held since its conception in 2001, said Steven Dinote, director of Marine Corps Sports, Headquarters Marine Corps.
A team of five males and three females represented the Combat Center in the event, which included Joshua Rogers, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Kenneth Parisi, Sherdell Figueira and Mimi Cottrell of Exercise Support Division, Jonathan Griffith and Joseph Bellavia of 1st Tank Battalion, Cassandra Olds of Marine Corps Communication-Electronic School and Danica Baron of Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital.
In November, Marine Corps Community Services Sports hosted the Commanding General’s Intramural Cross Country race at the Combat Center’s Desert Winds Golf Course to select the runners to compete in the race at Miramar. Rogers finished first in the male division and Olds finished first in the female division in the event.
“I’ve run track since the fourth grade,” said Olds, a native of Mossy Rock, Wash., before the race at Miramar. “I love to compete and look forward to the challenge.”
A coach’s meeting was held the day prior to the race to showcase the 8-kilometer (4.96 miles) course of long treks uphill and sharp turns located around the border of MCAS Miramar’s fishpond. Standing from the starting point of the race, on-lookers could view the entire course, which appears intimidating to the average runner, but to the participants of the race, the course looked fun, said Figueira, a native of Reading, England.
“It looks like a good run. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Runners arrived around 7 a.m. to warm-up. Some ran part of the course to get the circulation going while some ran sprint drills, and some saved all their energy for the race by simply stretching. There’s an adrenaline rush and nervous feeling right before competing, said Parisi, a native of Dallas.
“It’s a different feeling,” he said. “I like it. My biggest competitor is myself. I know I won’t be the first one done, but when it’s all over, I want to push myself to train harder for the next race I’m in.”
The race commenced at 8 a.m. In the first lap, the runners kept close to each other, until endurance started coming to play at the second-mile mark and hills started weighing down on some. Little by little, competitors staggered away from a group trying their best to pass the person in front of them and giving their all to not allow anyone to pass them by.
“My top goal was not to have anyone pass me,” said Parisi. “And I did it, I passed up several people on the hills, and no one passed me for the entire race.”
At 27 minutes, 52.79 seconds, Jeremy Brown, representing the Regional Running Program, finished first. Shortly after Brown crossed the finish line, Jeff Klemer, also representing the RRP, finished second at 28:2.2. Coming in third, John Bates III, representing MCAS Miramar, finished at 29:54.32.
RRP’s Tara Smith was the first female to cross the finish line at 32:46.23. Next, Kristin McLann from Team North Carolina came in second at 35:44.61 and taking third place in the female division, Krista Kraics, also from Team North Carolina, finished at 36:24.69.
RRP dominated the race, but without a full team, the overall team award was presented to Marine Corps Base Quantico with a combined time of 129:69.
RRP did spot a possible future member of their team in Combat Center’s Rogers, who finished fourth overall in the race.
“We’re going to try to talk him about joining the program,” said Brown, who was the first Marine to finish at the Marine Corps Marathon in October. “He did an awesome job today and he has great potential.”
RRP was set up for the Marine Corps’ top runners to be supported by Headquarters Marine Corps with training, coaching expertise and finances to compete in national and international racing competitions as representatives of the All-Marine Teams, according to their official Web site.
There is currently no running team for the Combat Center, but plans of scheduling the Combat Center’s cross country race earlier to give more time to the winners to train for the All-Marine Cross Country Championships is in the works, said Skip Best, athletics director, MCCS Sports.