Cross Country Diaries Logo 200px The UC Davis women's cross country team is up and running in 2015 -- looking to defend its Big West Conference title. Follow the women all season long on their quest for a repeat and a berth to nationals.
BLOG ENTRY #1: Junior Hanna Kirkegaard, Sept. 25, 2015
Runners speak the language of distance and time. We know a kilometer from a mile with only our two feet as a reference; we can hit our paces down to the second; we keep track of our mileage with fastidious care; we judge our successes and failures by the numbers on a clock. But while it is true that only time and place are recorded at the end of a race, there is more to racing and more to running than numbers reveal.

This Saturday, my teammates and I will race at the Stanford Invitational. As we loop the Stanford Golf Course, friends and family of our former teammate Sarah Sumpter will gather at the church where her funeral will be held. The objective hasn't changed -- we are still racing to achieve our time and place goals -- but the meaning has. Having had the privilege of being Stump's teammate, travel roommate, and friend during her sixth year, I can think of no better way to honor her than to do what she loved. While it will be an emotionally charged day for us all, there will be no dramatic attempts to win the race fueled by grief alone. The significance of racing this weekend transcends the raw hurt of this moment. It is an acknowledgement that every race, every mile run from here on out, for those fortunate enough to have known her, is its own quiet tribute to 'Stump.' In 'Stump's' own words, it is about "doing what you can, as often as you can, with the best effort you can in the given moment."

Stanford will be my season opener and the first time I put on a UC Davis singlet in almost six months. While I have toed countless start lines, I have never been more determined to race, for goals are meant to be pursued relentlessly and with all the grit and passion that 'Stump' brought to every training session and race. I would give anything for this message to be packaged another way. Tragedy shouldn't be necessary to remind us how to live. But with no power to change the past, I can only strive to carry on the example 'Stump' set as best I can into the future. Since I have neither the eloquence nor the wisdom 'Stump' possessed, I will leave you with her own words: "Please believe me when I say no small thing you do is insignificant, and it certainly is not wasted. Soldier on, and be unafraid."

BLOG ENTRY #2: Freshman Muna Alhamad, Oct. 2, 2015
Four years ago, I lined up at the start of my first cross country race. It was a warm and dusty August afternoon at Woodland High School, not too far from Davis. Little did I know that day would be the start of something so remarkably important in my life. I continued my Folsom High School running career for the years to come, completing four seasons of cross country and four seasons of track and field.

It was always a dream of mine to compete at a Division I university. Had anyone told me that I would run for the UC Davis cross country team, I would have laughed. Track was always where I shined the most; I didn't think I could be fast enough in cross country. As a result of my work ethic and perseverance, however, the impossible turned into a reality. A couple of months ago, I was notified by Assistant Coach Samantha Kearney that I was officially a part of the UC Davis women's cross country team. I just could not believe how far I had come; I was ecstatic, grateful and a little bit (very) frightened!

I had the privilege of being able to travel and compete at the UC Riverside Invitational a few weeks ago. I felt immensely honored and knew that my performance was a reflection of not only myself, but of my teammates (whose incredible work ethic, passion and heart is evident in each day's workout) and university as well. I finished in 51st place with a 22:29 for the 6K; I was very satisfied with not only the execution of my race strategy, but of my overall performance as well.

This Saturday, I'll be racing at the Capital Cross Challenge at Haggin Oaks in Sacramento. After a few weeks off from racing, I cannot contain my excitement to race this weekend. I am ready to get out quick, put myself out there and see some results. I am racing near my roots as a collegiate competitor; I think that some of my old teammates and coaches may even come to support. Once again, the dream has turned into a reality.

I am blessed with the opportunity each day to train amongst these incredible women who push me to succeed and be the best I can be (not only in running). Words just cannot express how honored I feel today to represent UC Davis across my chest.