Cross country team to run in Rockies
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury High School coach Jim Smith plans to take the cross country team to new heights this summer, literally and figuratively.
After a trip to Colorado to visit people and sights he knew from his doctoral studies earlier this year, Smith thought a week of pre-season training in the Rocky Mountains might be beneficial for the three-time league leader.
"In all honesty, my ulterior motive, and there is one here, is that I wanted the team to be the best it could be. There are a lot of runners who could be good or very good, but they could be better," he said. "We have a very strong program. We've won the league title for three years in a row. We have some great kids coming back. This'll be a way of ratcheting up our program so we can do better at the state level."
The team will spend the week at a YMCA camp in Rocky Mountain National Park in the northwest corner of Colorado for the last week of summer vacation. In addition to running in altitudes of 5,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level, they'll have opportunities to canoe, raft in white water, rock climb and ride horses, Smith said.
"One of the reasons we're doing this is because we wanted to energize the program. We wanted to get the kids excited about running," Smith said. "We want them to say when the week's over, 'We want to do this again.'"
About 13 of the returning cross country runners, grades 10 through 12, will make the trip, Smith said. Some decided not to go, and 13 team members graduated. He said he expects another 13 to join the team from other sports or to come in with the freshman class.
In order to make the trip, the team members must each run 300 miles over 10 weeks, Smith said. The more a person runs, the better their circulation of oxygen, and the better endurance he or she has, Smith explained. The training is important for running in higher elevations.
"Because there's less oxygen up at that altitude, the body has to work a little harder and that presents another challenge to the runners," he said. "That's the reason they have to be in pretty good shape before they go out there."
The cost of the week in the Rockies is approximately what the runners would pay for a week of running camp in New England, plus airfare, Smith said. The team has already had the one fundraiser they are allowed, and many of the students have jobs to help pay their way.
For more information or to support the team, call Jim Smith at 508-845-9597.
Joining the team as chaperones will be parent Ernie Favulli, Smith's wife, Marcia, and his son, Christopher. A 1991 Shrewsbury High School graduate, Christopher is a teacher and has coached high school and college runners.
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