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The Fresno State cross country team practices in the early dawn to avoid the heat from the blistering afternoon sun.

Rain or shine

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Photo Courtesy of Fresno State Athetics / Keith Kountz

Fresno State’s cross country athletes battle heat, cold, rain or anything nature can throw at them

The Fresno State cross country team practices in the early dawn to avoid the heat from the blistering afternoon sun. But not even triple-digit heat, intense cold or rain prevents the dedicated runners from practicing or competing.

Although it is safer for the runners to avoid high afternoon sun, there isn’t a true ideal temperature for running. The best temperature for a cross country runner depends on preference.

Coach Sean McManus thinks the perfect running conditions to run are between 50 and 60 degree Fahrenheit, without much wind and no rainfall.
The thought is that the cooler weather brings better focus to the team.

“The cooler the weather people are more motivated to run,” said senior Roxanne Sellick.

The cooler weather can also help runners with warm-ups. Sellick said that for a distance runner, cooler weather is better to warm-up in because they don’t take as long.

And according to junior Erik Garcia, running in cooler weather can improve the quality of workouts.

The cool temperatures do offer advantages to the runners and offers a break from the dangers of overheating and dehydration. But when the temperature drops too low, it can be worse than the heat.

McManus, who went to college in the Midwest, said, “At a meet in 2001, I ran in 17 degree below zero temperature with 30 mile per hour winds.”

The morning chill can bring motivation and quality runs, but the warmth from the sun, however, is preferred by both Sellick and Garcia.

Sellick, who grew up in Fresno, said the best time to run for her is around 80 degrees and that she is used to the weather in Fresno. Garcia, also a California native, agreed with his female teammate.

Not only do runners have to deal with temperature variations when practicing or competing, they also face the uphill battle of altitude change. Fresno is at sea level, but other places where the team competes are at higher elevation.

The cross country team competes in other states such as Nevada, Oregon and Indiana and the higher elevation can be hard for runners to acclimate to, McManus said.

Sellick said that the team just has to run through the difficulties of elevation change because it takes too long for them to become accustomed.

Rain can also be a factor for runners. Sellick recalled a downpour at a practice, and the team continued to run, but made the most of the situation.

“We ran around in puddles,” Sellick said.

The rain doesn’t stop Garcia either. He said it was just something that he and other have to get through.

“When there’s wind and rain hitting your face it’s tough to see and breath,” Garcia said.

The only type of weather that the cross country runners cannot practice or compete in are thunder storm, because of the dangers of lightning strikes.

When the storm clouds or the cold front roll in, runners have two choices: give in and quit or trek on even the most inclement conditions.