The course begins on the lower soccer field and heads toward the track before veering off into the Farm. Once there, the women will make three large loops while the men will complete four. Finally, runners finish with half of a counterclockwise loop around the track.
Men’s head coach Tony Boston has been visibly excited about the upcoming meet.
“We’ve hosted meets here before, and it’s a challenging and exciting course. So far, we’ve run various parts of the course, but have yet to do the start and finish segments in training, which I think will be two important parts of the race on Saturday,” Boston said.
Former PPXC runner Alex Bell PO ’14 is also looking forward to this weekend.
“It’ll be an early day for some of us cheerers, as we have to start getting all riled up at 7:15 in anticipation of the 7:45 race. Nonetheless, once PPXC, always PPXC, so I can’t wait to get out there and cheer the guys on. Plus, considering all the SCIAC action that’ll be going on out there in the Wash, I think it’s crucial that as many people as possible go support our runners. This race will be crucial for regional rankings, and subsequent selection to go to Nationals, so the more Hens fans, the better,” Bell said.
Indeed, the P-P Invite is one of only a select few mid-season races for the Hens and other SCIAC teams, so a strong performance here can help the men’s and women’s teams—currently ranked second and fourth in the region, respectively—maintain their standings. Moreover, the men’s team currently finds itself ranked twenty-ninth in the country. In the event that they do not receive an automatic bid to the national championships, noteworthy mid-season performances can make the difference between a “natties” berth and staying home Nov. 17.
Competition is sure to be fierce this weekend, however. Among others, Cal Poly Pomona (NCAA Division II) and CSU San Marcos (a perennial NAIA contender) will be bringing their best squads. While UC Irvine is only bringing their “B” team, they have a history of running well at the P-P Invite, as the men’s 8k course record of 24:46 was set last year by Anteater Sam Hyams. The women’s side will be hotly contested as well, as All-American Annie Lydens PO ’13 and the Hens take on a slew of talented teams and individuals. Lydens will be particularly interested to see how the weekend plays out; in addition to defending her P-P Invite title from 2011, she also will be looking to either protect or better her own 6k course record of 21:03.
Action begins in the Wash at 7:45 a.m. for the men and 8:30 a.m. for the women.