Kyle Kepler's weekly recap includes his thoughts on the team's performance at Arkansas.
Oct. 19, 2007
The Chile Pepper Festival has become a regular meet on our schedule. The fall weather in Arkansas has been very nice each of the last three years. The meet is run on a cross country only course as opposed to a golf course or trails. It is typically very fast and the competition comes from all over the country. The atmosphere is similar to a carnival with vendors, local running store tents, and a huge crowd who truly understand cross country. All proceeds from the meet are donated to the local area high school cross country teams, and it's the primary reason this meet started 19 years ago.
Our third trip to Arkansas took us through the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport and then into NW Arkansas Airport which is about 20 minutes from the course. The flights were fairly smooth which made for an easy trip on Thursday. Upon arriving we went to the course and ran for 35-40 minutes and did some strides. After that we ate dinner and had a relaxing evening in the hotel.
Friday was another gorgeous day and we went to the course at noon time for our pre-meet run. We followed that with a trip around campus, which was looking very nice at this time of the year. We drove by the brand new track and field complex. Wow, what an impressive facility. From there it was lunch and then back to the hotel to relax. We ate dinner at Johnny Carino's and then it was back to the hotel for a team meeting and relaxation exercise.
I started Saturday morning with a 10 mile run of my own. Unfortunately, it was mostly along a busy highway. It wasn't until about forty minutes into the run that I found a nice neighborhood and some back roads to complete my run. Our student assistant, Shayla entered the open 10K race and finished 3rd overall in the women's open division. She felt pretty good, but ran it more like a tempo run than a race which was what I wanted her to do. Finally, it was time to head to course with the team. We had to park further away than usual due to the high volume of teams and spectators. Fortunately, it was a very nice morning. It was bit warmer and breezier than the previous day, but all in all good running weather. We were in one of the furthest boxes to the right as you looked at the start line. With 41 teams/322 runners in the race it was crucial that we get out well and get into the rhythm of the race as quickly as possible. This is always a fast race and if you don't get out and establish a good position, it is very easy for the field to get away from you. I thought we got out better than we did at Stanford. However, it was the middle of race that we ran very well. Our athletes did a good job of positioning themselves for a good stretch run. We still need to finish a little better in the last 400 meters, but overall it was a successful race. We finished ninth as a team (our highest ever finish at that meet). We were not truly at a 100% as we had two runners who were still feeling the effects of mid-week illness. They fought through it and should feel better next week as we begin our preparation for the conference championships in San Diego on Oct. 27th.
I have to apologize for not having pictures from this meet. I had my camera with me, but left it at the hotel on race day. All in all, it was another great trip to Arkansas and our most successful as a team yet. We are looking forward to the conference meet in two weeks.