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The Pacific Association’s XC Grand Prix is comprised of an annual series of cross country events that culminate with the Pacific Association Cross Country Championships. The Cross Country Grand Prix season typically runs from late August/early September through late November. The Golden Gate Open is the third race in the … MORE
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    Angela FIRST-TIMER '18

    If you're familiar with USATF (USA Track & Field), the governing body of most running events in the US, then the Pacific Association (or PAUSATF) is the regional branch of … MORE

    If you’re familiar with USATF (USA Track & Field), the governing body of most running events in the US, then the Pacific Association (or PAUSATF) is the regional branch of USATF that functions in Northern California & Northern Nevada. They oversee all kinds of events including road races, cross country, track & field races, elite/pro competitions, and even school track & field/xc. In the fall, they run a series of open cross country races that anyone can show up and run in, though most people run for a local team. Some of the teams are more serious or have particular membership standards, while others are open to anyone. There are team competitions where each team scores a certain amount of points for how its top five runners place, and also individual competition for places.

    San Francisco, CA (Golden Gate Park)

    Early September (Sunday, Sept 9, 2018 this year)

    $20 if you sign up ahead of time, $25 race day

    I don’t think these races have a particular field limit so they can’t really “sell out.” At least, I don’t believe there is any kind of risk.

    ***FIELD SIZE**
    Women – 132 finishers
    Masters Men – 129 finishers
    Open Men – 96 finishers

    At first I thought it was weird that there are separate masters (40+) and open (under 40) races for the men but all women race together; it makes sense, though, when you see the field sizes. While there were only 132 women in all, there were 96 men under 40 & 129 in the masters field, so you can see why they hold two different men’s races. In any case, it’s only 6K, so none of the races take very long. Women raced at 9:00, masters men raced at 9:45, and open men raced at 10:30.

    Apparently this is only the second year this race has been held on this course. Staging was at the Golden Gate Polo Fields (across from Spreckels Lake), so super easy to get to with plenty of easy parking & even fancy flush park toilets. It was nice to have the bleachers as a spot to leave your stuff, & pretty easy to find everything (by which I mean the registration/sign in table, as that is the only thing you really need to find).

    ***THE COURSE***
    If you’re used to running XC in California, I think this was pretty typical, a mix of flat & hilly, dirt, mud, sand, grass, some brief sidewalk, & single track. It would have been nice if I’d had a chance to run it beforehand, but it wasn’t a big deal that I hadn’t (since it’s not like I was trying to win this thing). I actually enjoyed the challenge of the different terrain, and the “Oooh, what’s next!” kind of broke up some of the monotony of racing a 5K or 10K on the roads. If you’ve done some trail running, just think of it as sprint-trails, with elbows!

    Lololol it’s a XC race. There is no swag of any kind.

    – If you have a chance, jog the course (or better yet, do a tempo run on it) to get a feel for what comes up when & the best ways to take the different spots. I think that would have helped me a bit.
    – Wear stiff shoes, preferably with a bit of tread. I don’t think I would go trail shoes because of the weight, but you definitely want something with some stiffness. I didn’t wear my racing flats because they have almost no tread; instead I wore Saucony Fastwitches, which I think were good enough, but if I were going to make a habit of this, I might pony up for some spikeless XC shoes. (I don’t think you can wear spikes in CA? But maybe that’s just high school.)
    – Don’t be intimidated! I totally was but I showed up anyway. Yes, there were some STUPID fast people there (14 women ran under 23:00, which is 6:10 pace over hills & terrain, if you want to know), but there are also plenty of not-quite-so-fast people. 17 women ran over 33:00 minutes, or 8:51 pace, and people cheered just as loudly for them.

    So, my job at this race was to decide whether I wanted to train specifically for these PA XC races this year or just use them as fun workouts, and I think it’s going to be the latter. I had fun, but I think I want to get some low-pressure practice in on terrain before I throw myself into training for XC as my “A” racing goal. That said, I definitely want to run a few more of these if I can fit them into my schedule. It was really fun and I enjoyed the variety and the crowd.

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  1. Races
  2. PA Cross Country Golden Gate Park Open 6K