And the race is on! photo from Nike communications
That Nike is the $27-$28 billion sports giant is a given. Since its inception in the early 1970s, from its orgins as an importer of Japanese running shoes called Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike has gone from watching the sports world to leading much of the sports world. Somedays, it is hard to believe that all of Nike's growth started in the world of running.
If one wants to see a litmus test of Nike's support of running, look no farther than the Nike Border Clash. Now, in its sixteenth year, the Nike Border Clash celebrates high school cross country in all of its boldness, history and its excitement. This year, it was held on November 23, on the Nike campus.
Nike Border Clash 16, sometimes our bodies rebel, photo by Nike Communications
The Nike Border Clash was the dream made reality of John Truax and Josh Rowe, both Nike employees a the time (Truax is still there). Truax and Rowe thought it would be great to have a cross country shoot-out, pitting Washington and Oregon preps against each other. Held on the Nike campus, with much fanfare, the Border Clash is one of the events that you can not help but like. Who does not like a race started by an old cannon?
This writer has attended fourteen of the sixteen Nike Border Clashes. The smell of Fall is always there by the weekend before Thanksgiving. On Border Clash 15, the event was held on a Saturday night. This year, it went back to the original time frame and format.
What do I love about the Nike Border Clash? It is a celebration of all things cross country, cool weather, pitting runner against runner, over four thousand plus meters, as fans cheer the runners on to their greatest performances. On your mark, set, go! Run your heart out, pass one runner at a time, and when you get to that final three hundred meters, kick with all that you have! Many can not breath afterwards, then, comes that few minutes when you catch your breath, and talk to your fellow competitors, about races just run, and races in the future.
Nike Border Clash 16: Boy's finish is a battle, photo by Nike Communications
Cross country, even with 510,000 high school boys and girls competing around North America, is the purest part of our sport. Most races around the country have a few parents, coaches, and a couple dogs watching the runners. The Border Clash will have sometimes a few thousand, all Nike employees, coaches, athletes and their families.
Nike Border Clash 16: the women's race finish, photo by Nike Communications
Why is the Nike Border Clash so important? For a company like Nike, sports marketing is theatre, and the Nike Border Clash is great theatre. Sports marketing and sponsorships cements the ideals of the sport with the brand. It also shows Nike employees, and fans of the Nike brand, that cross country is part of the Nike culture. The Border Clash is a yearly reaffirmation that a brand such as Nike still needs to remember its humble beginnings.
I would travel to the Nike Border Clash all of those years to see how Nike was viewing running. Many years, the leadership and management of Nike would show up to support the event. From the Nike Border Clash, the Nike NXN regional and national event were birthed.
Want to see running in all of its purity and promise?
Go to a cross country meet.
Better yet, go to the Nike Border Clash.
At the best little cross country meet in the world, you will see the present and the future of the sport.
November 23, 2014
WASHINGTON TAKES 14TH TITLE AT NIKE BORDERCLASH 16
OREGON, WASHINGTON ELITE HIGH SCHOOL RUNNERS COMPETE IN RACE
Team Washington today won the 16th annual Nike BorderClash Running Competition. A crowd of 5,000 spectators, along with Nike elite athletes Alexa Efraimson--the 2013 Nike BorderClash girls' champion--and medal-winning miler Matthew Centrowitz supported the ongoing rivalry between two states in a cross-country battle to determine the home of the best running talent in the Pacific Northwest.
- Junior Ella Donaghu of Grant High School in Oregon crossed the finish line at 15:47.
- Clocking in at 13:48, senior John Dressel of Mount Spokane High School in Washington, won the boys' race.
The annual Nike BorderClash features elite high school runners from Oregon and Washington in a dual meet format and is rooted in the rich history of distance running integral to Pacific Northwest culture. Throughout the years this culture often shined through rivalries between the two states and in 1999, two Nike employees created a meet to determine which state holds the bragging rights to Northwest running supremacy. Throughout the past 15 years talented runners such as Oregon's Galen Rupp and Washington's Alexa Efraimson have cemented Borderclash as one of the great rivalry meets in the country.
Forty girls and forty boys from each state are selected each year based on their finishes at their respective state cross-country championships. At the Nov. 23 event, they join together as one team to fight for state pride and the "Champion of the Border" title.
The meet featured races for male and female competitors. Clocking in at 13:48, senior John Dressel of Mount Spokane High School in Washington, won the boys' race.
In the girls' race, junior Ella Donaghu of Grant High School in Oregon crossed the finish line at 15:47.
Both 2014 champions were the second place finishers in their respective 2013 BorderClash races.
Each team's girls' and boys' scores were then combined to determine which state would be crowned a winner, and Washington took the prize. The series now stands at 14-2 with Washington holding a commanding edge.
Complete results can be viewed at http://nikeborderclash.runnerspace.com.