Foot Locker Cross Country is one of the many reasons that American distance runners have continued to develop over the past three decades. From Rueben Reina, to Bob Kennedy, to Charles Alexander, to Ceci St. Geme, to Dathan Ritzenhein, prep American distance runners had the four regional races to dream of, where they could square off with the best prep runners from their region, run a hard 5k, and IF they were in the top ten boys or top ten girls, move on to….
the national race.
The event was first called the Kinney Cross Country championships way back in 1978, and the reputation grew. When we started American Track & Field and I wanted to find top coaches, I would jump on a plane to San Diego, and see most of the best distance coaches in America all over the Foot Locker course ( or fly to Florida while the event was contested there).
I remember seeing Dathan Ritzenhein and Jason Hartman go 1-2 at the Midwest Regional and revel each year how well the Parkside course took the Foot Locker contestants. I also enjoyed seeing the Foot Locker Western regional, held at Mount San Antonio’s notoriously tough course, and watch how the best of the West coast’s prep harriers tried to beat the hardest course in the west.
I have to admit, my favorite year was the personal tour with Doug Speck of the national course and the “little event we put on down here”. It was spectacular! For a few years, while my son Adam was six and seven, we would fly down for the weekend, catch the race, play on the beach and listen to a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was the sign that the Fall season was finally over and the holidays were about to begin!
This year, Foot Locker was a well kept secret. Little press, lots of rumors, but the event has made it to year twenty-nine. And that is a good thing!
The Nike Team Nationals is an awesome event. Completely different cat that Foot Locker. Foot Locker is more about the individual and a kind of Horatio Alger Story-the tough kid from the small school beats all of the big guys to take the national title. There should be a place for Foot Locker, in the future, but that is for its management to see how it should evolve and grow.
But for now, relish in the fact that there were three superb cross country races, in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast, on Saturday, November 24, 2007, and that thousands of prep harriers took their dreams to the line, in the cold, mud, and challenges of three great courses!
Cross country runners, especially ones who do not have teams going to NTN, see this as the end all and be all of their seasons!
The Western regional is next weekend, same weekend as the Nike Team Nationals, and the Foot Locker Nationals is December 8, on Morley Field at the famous Balboa Park, in San Diego, California.
Good events, the NTN, Foot Locker, Junior Olympics, all have their places and support. I am curious to see how they will all evolve.
For more on the New England Foot Locker regional, please click:
For more on the Midwestern FootLocker regional, please click:
For more on the SouthEastern Foot Locker regional, please click:
For more on American Track & Field, please click:
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