Club Cross Country Hosts Not-Hoosier Half Marathon After Nationals Cancellation
The Penn State men’s and women’s club cross country program spent the winter months logging miles in tough Pennsylvania conditions. The runners were doing this to prepare for the annual spring National Intercollegiate Running Club Association (NIRCA) Half Marathon Nationals, which were scheduled to be hosted last weekend at the Hoosier Half Marathon in Bloomington, IN.
NIRCA organizes this event as a spring competition for club cross country teams. The main season for these teams occurs in the fall, when they spend several months competing in a build up to fall national championships. In 2017, Penn State’s men’s and women’s teams took second place at the fall tournament.
Penn State looked to carry this momentum into the spring half-marathon national event. But as the weekend got closer, runners around the country checked the Indiana weather forecast and saw nothing but thunderstorms and rain.
A group of 37 runners left Penn State last Friday, April 14, and stayed in Indiana that night, remaining optimistic that they would race the next day.
They awoke Saturday morning to the news that race directors had cancelled the event due to fears of lightning during the race. The runners were disheartened by the news.
“We have been training for this race for a long time and it would have been many of our members’ first half marathon,” club president Raymond Friend said. “Lots of NIRECA teams were quite upset to have traveled all this way to have no race.”
The team was also looking to defend its titles from last year’s competition, where it won team championships on both the men’s and women’s sides.
But the runners didn’t let the news dishearten them for long. After a quick breakfast Saturday morning, they decided they would not let their story end there.
“We decided as a team to hold an impromptu half marathon/5K on Sunday morning for all interested,” Friend said. They called it the NOT Hoosier Half Marathon and 5k. About 25 runners showed up to compete and compensate for their missed race opportunity.
The impromptu race directors started and ended the competition outside Rec Hall, and combined several of their usual running loops around State College to make the 3.1 mile and 13.1 mile courses.
The runners wore the bibs they were scheduled to compete with at the Hoosier Half Marathon during the race. They were even able to pickup the medals they were supposed to receive at the official competition before they left Indiana, and received them in front of Rec Hall instead.