While a few runners took advantage of voluntary workouts twice a week during the summer, the full Coast Union cross country team will launch formal varsity training Monday Aug. 24, the first week of school.
Those twice-a-week voluntary runs took place in a stunningly beautiful pastoral setting — from Shamel Park to the southern boundary of the Fiscalini Ranch and back — with humpback whales spouting and breaching in the background, and ocean breezes keeping things cool.
It’s easy to imagine how grateful the myriad high school cross country teams in brutally hot sections of the country would be to have such a cool (literally and figuratively), wonderful, natural setting in which to run
Ayen Johnson and Jim Hurley are entering their third year of handling coaching duties for the cross country team. Johnson said those team members who did not train in the summer will be out of shape but “they are young and build up endurance quickly.”
Running up hills is one of the challenges team members will face during the competitive season. Johnson said that “many courses have changes in elevation, so by tackling the different rhythm” in training that is required when running up a steep slope, Coast athletes are “better prepared at adjusting their running style and effort during a race.”
Johnson and Hurley run with their team during training, albeit sometimes Hurley rides a bike alongside runners to “give them advice and keep them focused,” Johnson said. “I try to run with them to push them and remind them that an old man is beating them in running,” he added.
About 15 student athletes will be on the 2015 team, and that includes “a large group of talented freshmen,” Johnson said. The first race of the season precedes the Pinedorado parade Saturday, Sept. 5.