One of the many blessings of being able to work with the Appalachian State University Cross Country and Track and Field programs is that I was able to attend my 3rd USTFCCCA Convention, which was hosted at the JW Marriott in San Antonio this year. In its 10th edition, it’s a huge week-long event full of executive meetings, information sessions, technical symposiums, and of course lots of delicious meals and the awesome Hall of Fame and Bowerman Award Ceremonies.
This year’s convention also provided me with two new opportunities. Because I would be paying for a flight out West anyway, I figured what’s the harm in tacking on a little trip to LA for a course preview prior to convention. And since I was out there already, I finished off the week with a 2-day intensive course in Strength and Conditioning expertly instructed by Boo Schexnayder and Carrie Lane.
I’ll save my takeaways from Convention and my Strength and Conditioning Course and just focus on the LA course preview here.
Although it was about a 24-hour trip, I had a great time in LA and remembered what a fun adventure it can be to travel alone sometimes. I ran the course on Sunday afternoon (2.2mi loop), picked up some delicious super traditional Bimbim Bap at Gam Ja Gol on my way back to my awesome AirBnB, fell asleep at 7pm (gotta love travel to the West Coast), and got up 11 hours later to check out the 6mi loop.
Here are my top 3 takeaways from the course:
LA Olympic Trials Course Preview:
- The start/finish straightaway is shockingly short. For reference, the straight away we had in Houston was about 280 meters – about 200m before the first turn and the last turn was 200m before the finish. LA’s start/finish straightaway is 140 meters total, which means at best we’ll have 120m before we have to take a hard left onto Pico.
Honestly, I don’t think this will be too much of an issue, but it is good to know just for visualization purposes.
- There are a lot of turns. With 11 turns in the 2.2mi loop plus 18-20 turns in the big loop (depending on how you count turns), there are at least 83 turns on the course, and that includes a 2-mile section that has 14-16 turns in it (again, depending on what you consider a turn) including the one pictured below – we will be coming in from the left and going through the barricades or bollards on the right.
This section will certainly slow things down a lot, and force a lot of pace changing, partially depending on how the turns are coned off. The USC campus section of the course will be really neat, especially since we’ll get to run by the Coliseum on each loop.It should also be an interesting place to watch, especially since we loop around so much and if it pours on race day, it could become even more exciting, kinda like watching Nascar.
- The good news is that the long sections on Figueroa do allow for really opening up and getting into a good rhythm. Plus, there are some beautiful views, and in my opinion, the incline/decline is barely noticeable.
Summary: This will be a great course for the crowds, so that part is really exciting. I’m sure there were tons of factors to consider when planning the course, many more than I can even imagine. All in all, I think it’ll be an awesome day. The fact is, at the end of the day, we’re all going to be covering the same 26.2 miles and the top 3 will become Olympians.