Nome Nanook XC runners do long miles, raise money
The Nanook cross-country running team put in a long day Saturday raising funds for the upcoming season. For the pledge run the young athletes get family and friends to pledge a certain amount of money for each mile they tally. Then they do their best to pile up the miles during the six-hour window of the run.The day began overcast with a light rain but soon dried up a little and became ideal conditions for long-distance running.
Those who backed ninth-grader David Miller will have to dig deep into their pockets to fulfill their pledges. Miller, who also competes in basketball, wrestling and NYO, ran 35 miles, an impressive total. In the beginning he ran four miles and then head into the cross-country room for a short rest. But after 18 miles he ran a straight 17-miler without a break. “My secret was to motivate myself, and I always thought that I could push myself harder,” said Miller at the end of the day. “And that was probably the only motivation I had. I was told that you can imagine yourself hearing steps behind you and I always made sure that those steps don’t pass me. When I was at 18 miles I just didn’t stop.” Surprisingly, at the end of the day he didn’t look like a guy who’d just run 35 miles.
Aaron Motis ran 20 miles despite having broken his neck earlier this summer when he rolled his car with no seatbelt on. During recovery he put in 100 miles on a treadmill then began to run outside. “I’d go on six mile runs and do those three or four times a week,” he said. Motis, who is a senior, was asked about running being conditioning for other sports. “It does help to get in shape for hoops. It helps also to build your mental capability,” he replied. “So in basketball you can push yourself pretty hard that way too.”
Junior Caitlin Tocktoo ran 14 miles even though she didn’t run much over the summer. “It was pretty good,” she said. “I’m hurting now but it was good.” She also skis cross-country and this is her second year doing both.
Audrey Bahnke also ran 14 miles. “It was really hard but I kept going,” she said.
Meanwhile Reese Bahnke was loading up on energy food, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sugar, protein, and carbs! Coach Devin Tatro’s social studies room was pledge run headquarters and well stocked with good food. Some of the runners had brought in video games and were absorbed with that while resting in between two or four mile runs. Numbering around 28, they were divided up into teams whose total points were tallied at the end of the day.
“We have a big number of students for whom this is their first sport ever,” said coach Tatro. “And that’s really cool. We have team members who run other sports but cross country is their favorite. I’d say our team has diverse reasons for running the sport, whether it be training for another sport or just because they love running.”
Taking a break was Mallory Conger, also a runner and skier, who was having shin splints. The painful condition is common with runners but fortunately skiers don’t get it.
Hoping to get past ten miles was Owen Hebel. “This is only my fourth practice because I went on a trip and missed most of the practices. So it feels really horrible for me,” he said. “I pushed it a little bit.”
The runners’ first competition takes place August 25 in Kotzebue. “We will run strong in Kotzebue,” predicted coach Tatro. “Our runners are strong on hills, they’re strong on uneven terrain, so I’m confident on sending them up there.” Kotzebue has several cross country courses and all of them feature tough hills and uneven terrain.