Championship Race Details
After the Twilight Last Gleaming XC race we had 3 weeks before the Championship Race, and we still didn’t know the race details or if it was going to be held at all. There was smoke from the fires in Ventura County that blew inland and may have made it unhealthy to run and also USATF officials had some delay booking permits for the park and getting the race sanctioned.
Fortunately, the smoke cleared out, the permits and sanctions were approved, and the final race details were released 10 days before race day.
Strength In Numbers
All the races NBB participated in until this point was open to the public (i.e., noncollege races). The championship is also open to the public, but since the details were released so late only the clubs and elite runners looking for a payday paid close attention, and these were the runners that showed up. So this was going to be a very humbling but very honest race. We knew that individually and divisionally we were outmatched, but we also knew that there was strength in numbers and that showing up and facing the tidal wave of national-caliber runners could give us a place on the podium and walk away with a trophy.
The Grand Prix Points Strategy
The points system is set up to favor clubs that are most inclusive of all team divisions. You can’t just have an Open team because if another club has only a Master team, the points cancel out. So there we were sitting pretty in 2nd place for 3 weeks. Here’s what the standings looked like coming into the race:
|Cal Coast TC||NBB||The Janes||ARC||Valor||Team Mosqueda|
|369 pts||341 pts||331 pts||316 pts||208 pts||155 pts|
|Open Men||Open Men||Open Men||Open Men|
|Open Women||Open Women||Open Women||Open Women||Open Women|
|Master Men||Master Men|
|Grand Master Men||Grand Master Men||Grand Master Men|
|Master Women||Master Women|
|Grand Master Women|
The Janes had a strong Open, Master, and Grand Master Women teams; we did not match so we expected them to take back 2nd place but not overtake Cal Coast because they did not have an answer to their Open Men. This left us defending 3rd place against ARC, Valor, and Team Mosqueda.
Team Mosqueda had a strong Open Women and Master Women team, but their points would be matched by our Master and Grand Master Men, which meant our Open Men would hold them off.
The same situation is true for Valor TC team. Their strong Open Men team would be matched by our Master/Grand Master Men, and our Open Men would just need to show up and score within 25 places to keep them from overtaking us for 3rd place.
ARC was the biggest threat, even though they did not field complete division teams. Their runners were fast enough to pick up points in each division and overtake us in Grand Prix scoring, bumping us to 4th place for the second year in a row. Fortunately, we recruited Jose Jimenez at the eleventh hour: a Master that can match ARC’s Grand Master and keep us in the lead. That’s exactly how it went down.
There was mention of a change on the course but no map provided, so we assumed the course was going to be the same. We were wrong. Fortunately, we were warned 10 min before the race the new start line location, and we had the race team in one spot to let them know. Usually, our runners are late or warming up, so we were lucky to have everyone at the start line on time.
The Master Men Race
As expected, Cal Coast TC dominated the race. However, NBB spoiled their perfect score when our new recruit, Jose Jimenez, finished 5th overall to secure our 3rd place club finish, making him NBB’s Rookie of the Year. Jose Pineda had his pain face the whole race, but it was worth it because he was our 3rd highest scorer of the day. Larry was next to finish clenching a 2nd place finish in the Grand Prix series, a money spot. Next to finish was Martin Vega who had raced a 5K the previous day but had enough juice to beat ARC’s only Grand Master and our 5th scorer. Doug, Amir, Marty, and James finished soon after.
We did not have a Master’s women team, but our friend and NBB club member Maggie Shearer raced for Team Mosqueda won the Master Women title, followed by The Janes’ Nancy James-Klinger and Grace Padilla.
This was a really competitive field. It was battle of two titan clubs, Cal Coast TC vs. The Janes Elite, with Team Mosqueda’s Mariel crashing the party and taking 3rd place overall. NBB Club member racing for Team Mosqueda, Monica Su, ran well and finished in the mix with these pros.
Our women Angela and Yanet stayed within sight and hung in for as long as they could to the tail end of the Cal Coast and Janes swarm and finished with very respectable times. Angela scored 14 points, enough to place 5th in the series and walk away with a USATF medal. Yanet was close behind, battling it out against a Jane, and Abby finished ahead of an ARC runner she’s been racing all year.
Another incredibly competitive field. This time Cal Coast truly dominated with a perfect score, claiming the first 5 finishers. Josh had to place top 9 to be in the top 5 of the Grand Prix Series. He was 10th in the final race, but fortunately, the guys that beat him didn’t have enough points to displace him. He finished 4th place overall in the series just 4 points shy of 3rd place, a money spot. Francisco was next to finish, within sight of the runner ahead of him and fending off an ARC runner from scoring against us. Hector, Steven, and Alec followed. It was an extremely hard race, but we’re proud these guys showed, raced, and finished. Their efforts during the season helped secure our 3rd place series finish.
The race day results were quick but calculating the Grand Prix series results took a little longer. Most clubs left, and we went to a nearby restaurant for brunch with Team Mosqueda and Grace Padilla from The Janes. We checked in with the race director periodically to see if he had finished scoring (he said it was close between The Janes, NBB, and ARC). When he finished, he drove to the restaurant where we were and announced the final scores, presenting NBB with the third-place trophy and The Janes with the 2nd place trophy.