The Anatomy of a Race

Brad Tansey

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Cross country is not just a bunch of people running around in short shorts.

The sport involves complex strategy and intensive pre-race planning. But being fast doesn’t hurt.

The Stater sports staff wanted a better look at what goes through the minds of athletes, so seniors Alex Lizarribar and Scott Hilditch put us in their running spikes on race day.


AL: Once we get (to the race), that’s when I go into my own little world and try not to think about anything besides the race.

At the starting line:

AL: I try to have nothing going through my head. I’m the biggest head case ever and if I’m thinking too much, I won’t be able to just go. A lot of times I tell myself: ‘It’s just like practice; this is a big practice.’

SH: Get out (in front). Don’t get boxed in. I have to get out there and run away from everybody and then get in the lead pack and relax.

During the race:

SH: I think a lot about friends and family throughout races and how much they have supported me. If I’m feeling it and I can think about friends and family, that’s all the fuel I’ll need.

The final kick:

AL: If I’m ahead, I just tell myself she’s right behind me so I better go, even if she’s way behind. If I’m behind, I just tell myself to suck it up. I’m almost done and deal.

SH: I have a good kick so I don’t worry about it too much, but if he (another runner) has a better kick, I just think about holding him off and keep fighting.

At the finish line:

AL: Finish, finish, finish. Please don’t catch me, please don’t catch me.

SH: In my head, I hate losing. I hate losing to somebody by a foot. The closer the race is, the more I hate losing to them. So if I’m a mile from somebody, I can kind of live with that. If I’m 10 meters from the finish line and two feet behind the guy, I’m going to win.

Contact Brad Tansey at [email protected].