On November 14th 2006, Penn Running Club pioneers Jeremy Estey and Andreea Dumitrescu crossed the line at the first ever NIRCA XC National Championships in Lock Haven, PA, setting defacto PRC 8K and 6K records of 28:06 and 25:19 respectively. Yesterday, a new PRC crew now ten years wiser returned to the scene of the crime not to end our season but to begin it. As a demonstration of how far we’ve come, PRC was able to put two men in Chris Hendry (27:10.60) and Kyle Heubner (27:25.40), and three women in Ruby Pan (23:15.60), Diana Kafkes (24:10.20), and JaHyun Yang (24:41.20) under the old records en route to 10th/15 and 11th/18 place team finishes against NCAA D2 and D3 competition.
The men’s race proved to be a nice rust-buster for the top few as Chris and Kyle worked together for the first mile to split 5:17 / 5:20 before Chris started his breakaway and finished in 27:10, a nice time so early in the season that will surely improve once the midseason workouts begin to sharpen up. Meanwhile, Kyle validated his new level of fitness with a blazing 27:25, just two seconds off his PR and notably the closest he has ever finished to Chris in an XC race – that close 1-2 spread could score PRC valuable points in the late season. Next across was PRC sophomore Harry Prevor, who began his race with a hard but evenly-split first 5K in 17:25 (just 3 seconds off his time at the PRC Track 5K time trial two weeks ago). On pace for a 27:53, the wheels began to fall off in miles 4 and 5 but his final time of 28:40 was still a 17-second PR and nothing to be ashamed of. Behind him, Yosef Robele achieved his goal of breaking 30 minutes at this meet with a 29:41, and PRCer Carlos Benavides ran the race as a workout, hitting a time of 30:51. But don’t sleep on Carlos – his first 5K split was just north of 17:30, indicating a huge breakthrough is possible if he can maintain pace and possibly surpass his fitness from his years running at Johns Hopkins. Jonas Peschel made his PRC debut by running his first ever 8K in 34:04, and he looks forward to improving with PRC over the rest of the season!
On the women’s side, true freshman Ruby Pan made her PRC debut in tremendous style as she ran an incredible 23:15.60 for 20th overall, reguarly being very competitive with the top pack. Her time yesterday was faster than any PRC undergraduate ran at any race in 2015. Ruby, of course never being satisfied, said at the end of the race that she wanted to break 23 minutes. The PRC 6K Record of 22:34 was set at this very course in 2014 – will it be in Ruby’s sights this season? Ruby wasn’t the only frosh to impress as Diana Kafkes took a break from her duties as Men’s Crew Coxswain to blitz a 24:10.20 for 44th place. Less than a minute behind was PRC sophomore JaHyun Yang, who couldn’t compete last XC season due to injury but showed she is fully healthy this year with a 24:41. Eden Harris tried to follow in JaHyun’s footsteps for a 25:39, a huge 3-minute PR for her over her last year’s times. Andrea Nam and Will’s sister Alissa Johnson also did well with their 28:29 and 29:24 performances, helped along by the roar of the crowd at the very spectator-friendly Lock Haven course.