Carleton’s cross country runners were in action again last week, facing the rival Oles in the Great Karhu Shoe Race.
Both the men and the women took off at 4:15 in the upper arb, leaving just enough time to run a race before sundown.
The Karhu race is a true test of depth, as both team’s rest their top seven runners in preparation for next weekend’s NCAA Central Region meet. The Knight women dominated the race, racing several individual who finished in the top 50 at the conference meet.
Because it typically falls near Halloween, Carleton’s squads race in costumes composed of mostly spandex material rather than their traditional gear. While the Ole women have adopted the dress-up game, the no-fun Ole men still run in their lame black singlets.
In the entire history of the Great Karhu Shoe Race, the Carleton women have only beat St. Olaf’s unbelievably enormous cross country team three times. Last Thursday was one of them. The women scored just 16 points to St. Olaf’s whopping 46.
Senior Hannah Specth’s strong lead from the beginning of the race challenged her teammates to focus their energies on closing the gap, which Clare Frano ’12 did impressively, as these two gutsy women won the race together, in 15:30.9.
Juniors Nikki Reich and Irene Koplinka-Loehr helped each other to finish third and fourth in 15:47.5 and 15:47.9, respectively. Only one Olie was able to penetrate the intimidating Carleton pack before Kaitlin Randolph ’12 and Kate Meyer ’09 dashed across the line. Specth’s win capped off an incredible season after a year’s sabbatical from running, and Franco’s confidence in her ability to work up to her teammate so that each could benefit from the other’s energy represents the determination and spunk of the freshman class.
Colin “CC Slabathia” Sinclair ’11 led the charge for Carleton in the men’s race, taking second place overall in a time of 27:41. An early pack emerged a mile into the 8-kilometer race, and Sinclair stuck to a gaggle of Oles like industrial-strength superglue.
One by one, Oles fell off of the pace, leaving Sinclair dueling eventual champion Anders Nienstaedt for the last 2,000 meters. The last mile was blisteringly fast, with Sinclair covering the final fifth of the race in just 5:20.
Eric Hofmann ’09 closed out his cross country career with a 7th-place finish in 28:33, dressed United States Olympic disappointment Tyson Gay. Joe Marren ’11 was close behind for 8th in 28:42, dressed as Hofmann.
In full tie-dye apparel, Nick “Big Texas” Smith ’09 ran a course-PR and season-best 29:07, the fourth Carleton harrier across the line in 12th place. Michael Knudson also ran a season-best time of 28:25 to round out the scoring for the Knights.
The Fellahs totaled 40 points, good enough for second place. St. Olaf won the meet with 19 team points.The Oles will keep the Great Karhu Shoes, a prize which has been held by the victorious squad since the 1970’s. Next year, however, the Fellahs will reclaim the shoes, leaving the Oles to cry themselves to sleep.
This weekend, cross country teams will be losing their voices in Grinnell, IA, where they will be cheering on their teammates in the Regional race, vying for a bid to the NCAA National Championships.