ALBURQUERQUE, NM - Three Berkeley Heights PAL Runners competed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the prestigious USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships on December 12, 2015.

The city is 5,000 feet above sea level, and this is a significant adjustment for athletes coming from lower elevations. Even for athletes with high levels of fitness, effects of altitude can be significant. Nick Yarad (9-10 age group), Liam Curran (11-12 age group) and Alex Aranas (13-14 age group) were up to the challenge.

Coach Steve SanAntonio said, “Although the children knew there was going to be major breathing challenges in high latitude, they wanted to take in the whole experience. To see a new state, culture, runners from all over the country and run in thin air is an experience of a lifetime. In the end, they gave it their all and enjoyed their time with their families and teammates.”  

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The day of the meet, the weather conditions were not ideal as the runners had to run in sub 40 degree rainy weather with gusty winds.

Nick Yarad said, “I had a good time in New Mexico seeing new places like Santa Fe and going to the aquarium in Albuquerque.  On race day, I had good competition and it was a super hard race but I felt satisfied with my run.  I want to say thank you to my coaches for training me well!"

Liam Curran said, “The opportunity to go to Albuquerque for nationals was amazing. I have been training for 6 plus months and the feeling to qualify was fantastic. This trip was nerve racking at first, but the amount of support from my friends and family was overwhelming. Getting time to spend with my Dad, Alex and Nick took away from the stresses of school was unbeatable. My first day in Albuquerque was filled with historic sights and museums and getting to know the great culture of the Albuquerque. The second day was more serious, but still filled with a lot of fun with Alex just arriving on late Thursday. The dinner was the most memorable. We went to an amazing pasta dinner with Alex, Nick, and I talking and goofing off. Race day was the most stressful of them all, and the build up to the race was insane. Running in the mile high elevation was not fun, in fact it was extremely painful. There is a person who collapsed within the first 1000M, but my time was better than the time that I ran at most of my meets. Albuquerque was an amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait for Track season to try and make the nationals.”

 Alex Aranas said, “The race was a great experience, running at that high elevation was one of the most difficult things I have done. Being there with my friends and visiting Albuquerque was really exciting. I had the chance to run against the fastest runners in the country which made the whole experience very memorable and fun.”

The following are the results of the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, including Place, Time:

Boys 3000 meters 9-10 age group
Nick Yarad, 196 out of 306, 13:59.3

Boys 3000 meters 11-12 age group
Liam Curran, 145 out of 312, 12:13.6

Boys 4000 meters 13-14 age group
Alex Aranas, 253 out of 345, 16:23.5

The WolfPack Track Club sponsored by the BH PAL and is a USATF certified club that serves children from the neighboring area throughout the year. The club has spring and fall running programs. For more information, contact the club at www.wolfpacktc.org or contact Steve SanAntonio at wolfpacktrackclub@gmail.com