Pictured: running through the trails behind Stowe HS.
Hump Day at Stowe Running Camp began with a pleasant run in the trails behind Stowe High School. Though trail running— with its hills and roots and potential pitfalls—can be frustrating for some because of the relatively pedestrian pace compared to a road or track, when it is done well it is a joy that hurdling down a sidewalk cannot match. On this misty morning with the dew still settling on the grass and the harmonious sounds of nature waking up to take on the day, the runners seemed to be a part of this scene, no different than a caterpillar weaving a web or a sparrow flittering through the trees. At the conclusion of the run, the groups did some hill strides on a nice dirt hill at the entrance of the trails. Hill strides are a great way to add some variety to training and they help work on running efficiency as when running up a hill you are forced into having better form.
Though there was some fatigue given the prior day’s tempo run, the campers returned from the trails energized and ready to take on the day. After a hearty breakfast, Director Fran Cusick went over long run essentials in preparation for the Thursday long run (I know it doesn’t have the same ring to it as “the church of the Sunday long run but campers would probably be unhappy if they began their week at Stowe with a long run!). Coach Cusick also discussed some ways to boost performance, such as keeping race-day decisions to a minimum and avoiding multitasking.
That afternoon, the camp headed to the Watering Hole for an aqua jogging and strength session. The veterans (juniors and seniors) and the young guns (sophomores, freshman, 8th graders) split into two groups for this portion of the camp, with the young guns starting in the pool. Aqua jogging is an activity where the runner supports him or herself with a flotation device and then mimics the motion of running in the pool. It is a great cross training activity because you get to actually run without the pounding that running on the hard ground creates. Counselors Emily Sessa and Peyton McGovern, who have both done a great deal of aqua jogging while injured, led the campers through a rather intense session of Aqua jogging. One favorite were the “drowners/dunkers” where campers hold themselves under water, pop to the surface, and “sprint” for 10 seconds.
While one group participated in Aqua jogging, another group led by Coach Kevin Greene and counselors Palmer and Spencer and Joe, did a medicine ball strength routine and then played a rousing game of “core capture the flag.” In this format, a player who is tagged has to do core until one of their teammates can rescue them. There were a few heated games and some tricky team tactics, but a good time was had by all.
That night was our Mr. and Mrs Stowe Pageant. This year’s competition was one of the better efforts that this writer has ever seen in this contest. The level of talent was high, the wit and intellect of the contestants was top-notch, and the crowd was completely engaged throughout most of the show, despite the rather long run time. Some of the highlights (which we are hoping to upload to this blog as soon as we can!) included a medley of impressive musical numbers. Amalia M broke out the ukelele for a heart wrenching cover of Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” (a performance that was so good her own brother hugged her after), Rachel S did an impromptu spoken word rap (?) about Stowe Running Camp itself which will likely go viral if we can ever get it uploaded, Ben P. did a uproariously funny version of a song that I can no longer remember but gets big points for involving the crowd, and Lucas M. also brought the house down with a rap version that incorporated many of the counselors at Stowe and the week’s single most hysterical/annoying catchphrase (the Family Feud inspired “Good answer!”).
Eventually, after a hard fought contest, Amalia M. and Ben P were named as the Mr. and Mrs. Stowe winners for 2017, though the real winners were the audience that got to watch all this creativity on display.