Although Western sophomore Pete Bradshaw was unable to compete in a 5k held annually in Indianapolis, that didn’t stop him from completing his own race earlier this month.
With the cancelation of the races due to COVID-19, Bradshaw ran the usual 5k course in Russiaville used for the Panther Prowl in the summers by the Western cross country team. Although he normally would be nearing the end of track season at this time, Bradshaw felt it was important to continue looking ahead to cross country season in the fall.
“I think training in the off season is necessary so that we have something to look forward to this fall, and we don’t give up hope of having a season yet. We know as a team that when the season does start, other teams will have taken this as a huge opportunity to get ahead, so we have to match them or do even better,” Bradshaw said.
He said now was a great time for him and his teammates to set good habits and be consistent, as they never have begun their cross country training so early in the year before.
Bradshaw completed his own race with a time of 18:17, a time that left him a little disappointed. Although he originally planned to submit his time to the Indianapolis 500 festival’s online 5k, Bradshaw decided against it.
“It was a good start to the year, but I know that I have much more in store for this season,” he said.
According to Gary Jewell, Western’s head cross country and track coach, virtual runs are popular around the country currently as people practice social distancing and compete with others by submitting their times through an app.
“They’re pretty popular around the country right now. Everybody’s wanting to get in some quality racing,” Jewell said.
Additionally, Jewell said the boys on the Panthers’ cross country team were anxious for some physical competition to gauge their times with other teams’ runners.
“We don’t know when [the] competition is going to be. At least we can compete virtually where we’re competing against people, but they’re not all at the same place at the same time. You’re not racing head-to-head with them … Right now we’re tracking mileage, and it seems to be a pretty good competition even though the guys aren’t necessarily running together every day.”
Recently, Jewell said four of the cross country runners on the team met, running a one-mile time trial. All four boys ran the mile in under five minutes, he said, which hasn’t happened for the Panthers since 2014. The physical race was a good way to keep the runners focused, Jewell said, and with times like that, he anticipated a good upcoming school year of cross country and track.
Although every sport will be affected with the lack of seasons and leagues, Jewell said individual sports, especially cross country, likely will be the least affected by the cancelations. That’s because training for cross country consists of runs and workouts that can happen anywhere at any time, according to Jewell, whereas team sports will be hurting without access to facilities, equipment, and other players.
“They’re having the come up with alternative ways to get in the work,” Jewell said. “Distance guys and girls can get in every workout they would ever do. They don’t need a track to do that on. They can just go do it … We can do a workout anywhere we want.”