Strong Start at Irvine for Women’s Cross Country

Music plays and women are dancing. A male freshman, visibly perspiring and wide-eyed, is off in a corner, oblivious to his surroundings. The women ignore him and dance with one another, synchronized, like goddesses. It is Saturday night. This may appear unspectacular for a group of quite attractive females, approaching the sunset of teenage life at a non-denominational college, but consider, kind reader, that perhaps all is not as it seems on one of dwindling summer’s final nights.

Just hours earlier, our heroines dreamt of Saturdays to come and rivals to frighten. Alarms wheezed as the clock struck 5 a.m., prompting our shivering companions to force groggy eyes open. They quietly pulled back crisp comforters, while their still-snoozing companions dreamt of sugarplums and Thursday Night Club, stirring only to ask “Who are you? Why the smile, the bounce in the step?” The reasons are, perhaps, why the women wake up in Claremont in the first place.

The women stared back at their friends’ puffy-eyed expressions, our heroines betrayed pre-dawn excitement.

“It is Saturday. Saturday. Saturday! And on Saturdays we run, yell like Amazons, and seize the first strands of daylight! Jar ourselves to life and race for another Dub, race until there are no more steps to take!” It’s no one’s fault that their companions could not understand. In honesty, it is unlikely that they ever will. The truth inspires but does not awaken, and soon their eyes were shut once more, back to sweet dreams. For our heroines, it already felt warmer (Claremont is frosty before daybreak, but usually just the rabbits notice). At 5:15 a.m., the women were dressed in uniform, ready to depart for Rains.

The destination was Irvine, with a trip to Newport Beach promised upon satisfactory completion of a three-mile warm-up, five-kilometer race, and two-mile cool-down. Ten dollars for parking. Thunderstorms brewed in the hazy gray of the sky, then fell, then kept falling, harder and faster as race time approached.

A friendly male observer of the women, unaccustomed to Californian thunderstorms, selfishly thinking of his own race later in the day, interpreted Fortuna’s change of weather as a dark omen. He would not manage to finish the slightly longer race distance forced upon the men. The women, however, finished. Every single one of them, no cowardice present in these expensively parked vans.

Annie Lydens PO ’13 was the first Hen across the finish line. She cruised in a strong fifth out of 134 starters. Lydens, already two-time All American, and an early favorite for November’s National Championship tiara, is visibly displeased with her race effort, despite orders that the day be taken lightly. The race to be more of workout than a charge for blood. The real races will happen later on, when leaves turn interesting colors. Still, her arch rival, sworn enemy (and rumored Jacobin revolutionary), Jennifer Tave SC ’12, finished almost a minute ahead, albeit in a different heat.

“Bide your time,” Lydens thinks to herself. Images of Waterloo clogged her imagination.

“Lydens was pretty fast, but she wouldn’t like me saying that, so don’t quote me. But I thought she was fast,” says Kayla Eland PZ ’12 when asked to describe the race in four words. Although beautiful, Eland struggles to take directions. She would go on to finish 55th, an encouraging fifth lady for the team.

But what do results stand for anyways? The women run to test the steel reserves of uncommon hearts, uniting together to sacrifice bottled will power to the goddess Fortuna, that just once they might float above ground toward sunsets, sucking dry every last drop of CMS Athena blood, if that is what a finishing kick requires.

So yes, the women wake up with blood in their eyes, but so do vampires, gargoyles, and all other sorts of beasts, and savages. What impresses this observer most is the transformation after the race – from a fanged demon hunting Orestes into a dancing, loving, selfless, princess. The women dance together, Saturday’s goal accomplished, still ignoring the male freshmen. Life is good and sweet for the Lady Sagehens, at least until next Saturday.

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