LA CRESCENTA — Many current and former area cross-country athletes are accustomed to taking part in the Crescenta Valley Cross-Country Series, which began in 2011.
It’s served as a barometer in preparation for the upcoming season and given runners an idea of where they stand when it comes to handling curves and hills on the courses they will compete on in the coming months.
Before embarking to MIT, Crescenta Valley High graduate Zach Johnson wanted to partake in the event one final time.
Things turned out well for Johnson, who won both races Wednesday at Crescenta Valley Park. Johnson clocked 6 minutes 58 seconds in the 2K race before turning in a mark of 16:14 in the three-mile event that attracted participants from La Crescenta, Burbank, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
“You try to get a threshold in terms of pace and get a better understanding of what the marks are you are shooting for,” said Johnson, who earned an All-Area nod last season. “It’s been my home course for a long time, so I can break it down pretty well.
“You just try to stay relaxed for that first mile because the second mile is very hilly.”
Nick Beatty, a Crescenta Valley graduate, took second in the 2K in 7:15.
In the three-mile run, Johnson topped Alex Lowe, a Crescenta Valley assistant coach who clocked 16:24. Dylan Wilbur of Crescenta Valley was third (16:41). Thirty runners competed in the event.
Junior Dayne Ellis had the top mark among the Burbank High contingent, taking sixth in 17:08. Teammate Anthony Chiaravalle was seventh in 17:12. Elizabeth Nelson, a Burbank assistant, had the top mark among female runners. She had a time of 18:51 for a 17th-place finish. The race had 93 participants.
“It’s definitely a good test in finding out more about yourself,” Ellis said. “It helps you with coordinating your workouts.
“The course has a little bit of everything and you see how you can handle it.”
Crescenta Valley coach Mark Evans, who spearheaded the event, said there are plenty of positives to taking part in the all-comers meet.
“It’s an opportunity for the runners to race without any pressure and you take a break from the regular training leading up to the season,” said Evans, who was tabbed the All-Area Cross-Country Boys’ Coach of the Year after leading the Falcons to the Pacific League championship and a fourth-place effort in state last season. “They can work on different things, like their tempo.
“The participants don’t have to go very far to get here and there aren’t many events similar to this one that are close by.”