The Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) is an invitational cross country meet that serves as the unofficial national championship of United States high school cross country. It is comprised of a series of regional competitions, culminating in a National Championship held at the Nike Headquarters in Portland, Oregon. The 5K race course is a multiple loop race with man-made obstacles. Randolph High School Junior Liz Lansing qualified for this prestigious competition, where she finished in third place among girls from the Northeast region.

The following is a personal narrative of Lansing’s experience at the event:

The NXN experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget.  It was truly inspiring to get to know and compete with runners from all across the nation and share in our love and burning passion for the run. Nike does not hold such an event for any other sport, which shows just how much they value this sport.

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The Nike Headquarters were unbelievable. We were allowed to look inside the inner workings of the company to see where their creative, innovative ideas originate. We explored the Headquarters as well during the campus run, where we just so happened to be able to watch Nike Pro athletes working out and run on the famous Oregon track in the woods. Another special opportunity was to spend time with Nike Pro athletes who offered advice and training tips.

Chris Derrick (A record setting distance runner) sat with the Northeast individuals during dinner and told us all about his travels and life as a professional runner. I loved his desire to learn and his advice about how I am in control of the race to come. Upon our return to Embassy Suites, we found letters of inspiration from Chris Derrick in our rooms!!  We loved spending time in the hospitality room at Nike, interacting with the other individuals from across the country, crushing the boys in ping pong, and the crazy fun opening and closing ceremonies.

Race day was exhilarating.  The course could not have been more perfect.  The snow that had blanketed the ground and the ice that had laced the course the previous day had disappeared due to the diligence and dedication of the workers. This was a complete turn-around from last year when the runners had to traipse through lakes of mud and water.

As a result, the times were fast. Both the girls and boys champions broke the 5K course records. I was very excited to place 30th out of 198 runners in a Personal Record of 18:10.8! 

That night we all celebrated with the closing ceremony and the annual dance in the hotel.  I am in complete awe of the perseverance of all of these runners and was proud to represent the Northeast region and my Randolph team at NXN this year.  It was such an honor and an unforgettable experience.  I have never felt more inspired to continue the pursuit of the run and taking my abilities to another level.  I really hope to qualify again next year because Portland was such a blast, and such an outstanding window to share in this great love of the running lifestyle.