The USA Cross Country Championships in St. Louis last weekend was a hectic affair for members of the women’s distance team, with memorable moments including ambulance visits, illness and Olympic athletes.
Despite the race causing two women on the team to become physically sick, they still saw it was a success.
“It was a very long 36 hours where everything was a rush,” said redshirt senior Katja Goldring. “It was just one big adventure.”
Attracting all competition levels, the USA Cross Country Championships holds junior races, master’s races and open races for exceptional high school, college, professional and Olympic athletes.
Several UCLA women’s and men’s distance runners competed in the 12k open, 8k open, 8k junior and 6k junior races, including long distance coach Forest Braden, who ran the men’s 12k open race.
Goldring said the trip started off on a bad note, as she woke at 5 a.m. for a 6 a.m. bus ride and then still almost missed the plane to St. Louis.
The race itself was uncertain from the beginning since Goldring, who used to cross country distances of 6k, was inexperienced with the championship distance of 8k.
She said she went out a bit too conservatively and was not too pleased with her performance.
“In a race you have to make decisions and I don’t know if I made all the right decisions,” Goldring said.
Compared to the racing experience of her teammates, junior Caitlin Schmitt and sophomore Bronte Golick, Goldring’s troubling experience was mild.
Schmitt entered the race with a bad cough and by the 2k mark she was wheezing badly.
By the end of the race she was throwing up and had to be taken to an ambulance to get an IV.
Despite such troubling circumstances, at no point did she consider stopping.
“Mentally, if you stop a race you may start thinking you might as well stop every race,” Schmitt said. “Giving up is more painful than the actual race.”
Similarly, Golick was sick and suffered from exhaustion after the race, throwing up alongside Schmitt.
“Katja was able to mix in up with high-level athletes in her race,” Braden said. “The goal was to get national caliber racing experience and breakup training in the middle of the season.”
Although her team went through many ups and downs at the championships, Goldring sees the end result as a positive.
“Even though we had some problems it shows teamwork that we all were able to work together and get through it,” Goldring said. “Its nice to have them with you.”