Women’s cross country to run an extra kilometer at Saturday’s MAC Championships

Brad Frank and Brad Frank

For the first time in the 30-year history of the women’s Mid-American Conference Championships, the championship race will be a 6K event.

In 2000, all regional meets were switched from 5K events, and conferences around the country were given the option to switch to the new format. A majority of MAC coaches voted to keep the conference meet as a 5K event.

BG coach Cami Wells voted then to switch the conference meet to a 6K race.

The issue surfaced at the conference coaches’ meeting prior to the 2008 season.

The coaches concluded that it was a disservice to the runners to have them run only a 5K at the conference race and then run a 6K at the regional meet, keeping in mind that the conference aims to advance as many teams and individuals into the national championship competition.

The coaches decided to implement the change this season instead of last season in order to have an entire year to prepare for it.

Aside from wanting the length of the conference and regional meets to be the same, Wells believed the change wouldn’t hurt her team in any way.

‘I thought we performed well at that distance,’ she said. ‘It certainly wasn’t a disadvantage to switch to the 6K, but I don’t know if it was an advantage necessarily.’

Wells mentioned she had grown up used to the nature of 5K races and that most coaches are still getting used to the specifics of 6K races after being in coaching for at long time.

‘It’s still an adjustment to get used to the 6K,’ she said. ‘Workouts have changed a little bit but not substantially.’

Nonetheless, the women’s team has run numerous 6K meets throughout Wells’ time as coach for BG, running at least one every year since 2000.

BG has now run two this season, including the Falcon Invite which was converted to a 6K race just last season.

Wells said there’s not a particular adjustment runners have to make in a 6K compared a 5K race. She noted that it’s important for runners to pace themselves, whether the meet is a 5K or a 6K race.

The women’s team has competed well in both 6K meets this season.

The Falcons placed eighth last month in a tough field at the Iona Meet of Champions. And earlier this month, they won the Falcon Invite in their final home meet of the season.

BG will compete Saturday at noon in the MAC Championships, hosted by Ohio University.

The race on Saturday will be the first championship event for any MAC varsity sport so far in the 2009-10 academic year.