“Planning the 2010 MBAT was some kind of feat. As a former university long distance runner, when I learned of the many ways we HEC students could contribute to the event’s success, I knew right away that I wanted to lead the cross country team.
All winter, my co-captain Eric Murugneux and I held fairly regular Tuesday afternoon practices, though at times were a little dismayed that our runners were not always game to brave the less than stellar weather conditions – like rain and snow – that graced Jouy en Josas. Yet, many of the HEC runners always assured me that they were in fact training on their own. That’s one of the beauties of cross country - it’s a team event, yet each individual can practice on his or her own time without jeopardizing the team’s ultimate success.
Of course, studies and exams had a nasty little habit of getting in the way of all ambitions we may have had for the cross country event. Meaning that a week before the MBAT cross country race, Eric and I still had yet to fully chart and document the 7km course our runners would run.
Luckily Rob Johnson and Will Arbuckle, the tireless MBAT sports coordinators were able to connect Eric and me to Patrick and Jean Jules, two veterans of the HEC athletic department. Together with Patrick, Jean Jules, Eric, Will and Daniela, who is an exchange student from Chile who was kind enough to lend a hand, we spent four hours on a chilly and windy Thursday morning nailing signs to trees and sectioning off areas to chart the 7km course that runners would run just two days later.
Eric took the responsibility for creating the bib numbers, while I set out to convince members of the already over-committed HEC MBA community to volunteer to stake out key areas of the cross country course to ensure that no runner was lost en route. A task a bit more difficult than I originally envisioned, I managed to secure 14 volunteers in the two days before the race. Once I committed them, I tried my absolute hardest to snag portions of their time to show them exactly where they would stand, as a 7 km course covers a large area and sections the wooded areas that surround HEC are not always easy to show on a google map.
On race day, which was Saturday the third and final day of the MBAT competition, runners gathered near the starting line to collect bibs and check in. Late in the game some frantic runners from LBS informed us that they had not received the cross country information emails - apparently we just hadn’t received their emails in time. We quickly mobilized to tell their captains and members of their teams all the specifics, so they would not be stressed prior to the race. We intended to start the race around 2:30 pm, though received radio call ins from the basket ball courts that the championship game was not yet finished and several players were to run. As more and more runners began to gather anxiously around the starting line, we tried to spread the word that we would delay the race by 20 minutes so that the
basketball players soon to be cross country runners could join. No luck. Another radio from the basketball stadium informed us that the game had only just started. With that news, we made the call to start the race.
The gun went off for the guys around 2:30 pm and for the girls around 2:45 pm. Unfortunately, despite my frantic directions, one of the course guides sent the male runners in the wrong direction. Apparently and thankfully, they all stayed together and ran the same course, so their results could be tallied. When the females started, I was in the group so ensured that we all ran the previously charted 7km course - perhaps to our dismay, as it was quite difficult!
When all was said and done, a little over an hour later, I think that most of the runners felt accomplished and of course, fatigued. It was quite an event with several moving parts, and despite some hiccups we managed to pull it off. Some female runners even had the opportunity to test a new line of running shoes from Nike, one of the MBAT sponsors.
Even though I ran in college, I never had to take responsibility for the success of a race – including course charting and all. I found it to be quite challenging, as there were many stakeholders involved. As I pushed through my post race fatigue and shook off some of the worry and stress as a result of some of my fruitless but not unfounded worry that some of the runners would get lost (some did!) or hurt (none that I know of!) and tallied the result, I found that all those runners from HEC who assured me that they were in fact training over those cold winter months were not lying. HEC won.”
Christine Shepherd, MBA 2011