Nanook Corner: Exploring the UAF Trails with XC Runners
The trails that run like veins through the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus are enjoyed by skiers, hikers and dog walkers all year round. It has also been the home to UAF Cross Country for decades, spending countless hours and running an unthinkable amount of miles on the trails.
Senior Alex Bergholtz is in her fifth year running for the Nanooks and the trails often flood great memories back to her.
"There are definitely some portions of the trails that just have a lot of memories with them," Bergholtz said, who was named the UAF Women's Cross Country MVP last season. "Every time I run through them, I have happy memories, like 'oh my gosh, I remember this great run with my team here, I remember a great set of intervals here.' I think that is something I will be able to carry through with me as I run on them later in life, 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road."
With the uniqueness and diversity of the course, combined with uncommon topography, the trails rarely lose its character.
"It is great to just run somewhere different and to never get sick of it, despite being out here year round," said Jack Matherly, captain of the Men's XC team. "Everyone is used to running on a lot of terrain, a lot of hills. I think for us, it is so much different than anywhere else we go run for these trips out of state and stuff."
The current runners not only share the trails with the community, but with the great runners in UAF's history, who trekked the same courses many years ago.
"I think it is really cool that past runners from our team have run on these trails and now we get to run on them, because we are such a community, and we are a community that isn't just present, we are a community from the past and a community going into the future and we are all just kind of a great, big family and a great, big team, so it is really cool to draw that energy from the trails." Bergholtz said.
"We are a part of something special and it is important to not take it for granted. We are supposed to remember who we are representing, that we are representing a whole university and a whole town, so we have that going on our backs every race." Matherly added.
The Cross Country teams have been doing laps around these trails in preparation for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships coming up October 26.
"We are all going to go out there individually and run the best race we can and we will see what happens on race day," Matherly said. "Everyone else can have good races too, but we are just going to go out there and run our race."
"The last couple of weeks we have been really focusing on speed work and recovery. All of our workouts have been really fast and really consistent and really strong," Bergholtz said of the preparation heading into the GNAC Championships. "If our workouts are like that, I am sure that our team, when we get to the races, our races are going to be like that."
Both the Men's and Women's teams head to Billings, Montana for the GNAC championships looking to qualify for the NCAA West Regionals November 9.