PTXC 6 Feature: Heat and humidity impact runners

With credit to the late Robin Williams, it was Hot! Dang Hot! Real Hot!on Saturday at Kutztown University for PTXC6.

Bright sunshine overhead turned an early morning haze into very hot and humid conditions as a seven-race schedule unfolded on The Farm Course. The late-summer heat wave was definitely on the mind of the gathered athletes, coaches and meet officials.

“I wanted to take it out hard and try to separate, get away from the pack and then settle into a pace, but it made the settling in a little bit more difficult with the humidity and the heat,” said Lake-Lehman’s Dominic Hockenbury, who finished second in the day’s first 5,000-meter race.

Coaches also were ready to make adjustments to any meet routines based on the conditions.

“They were different,” Cumberland Valley coach Skip Springmansaid of his prerace instructions to the Eagle runners. “I told the kids to go out at a more controlled tempo, work together, stay in the top 20-25 and after they got about a mile and a half in, then start attacking.”

Although pre-season workouts only recently ended, Springman noted that the wet and unseasonably cooler temperatures of the summer of 2014 did not serve as good preparation for Saturday’s conditions.

“Tuesday was our first dual, and the temperature was probably 10-15 degrees more than we just practiced all summer long in,” Springman said. “So it was a shock to our kids. That’s why we talked about strategy.

“You change the strategy up a little bit. Now they acclimated themselves a little bit more to the weather. As the season rolls on, they’ll be comfortable no matter what the temps are.”

The updated pre-race instructions worked well for Springman’s squads, as the Cumberland Valley girls won the Gold team title behind a runner-up finish by MadyClahane and the boys were third with a trio in the top 20.

Veritas Academy coach John Martin also noted that the hot weather resulted in a different game plan for his teams.

“We have very much a young developing team, both our boys and girls,” Martin said while following the action in one of the varsity Blue races. “This was our second race so I gave them advice to lay off and try to run our second half stronger. We’re running for place; times were meaningless at this point.

“I love this course. It’s a great competitive race.”

Martin did note that he always talks to his athletes about the weather conditions in which they will be competing.

According to a university official, the early afternoon temperature was 88 degrees and felt like 90 as the sun continued to shine and any breeze was light.

With the sun refusing to stay behind any clouds, meet officials modified the final race of the day – girls’ junior varsity – into a one-loop, 2,500-meter test for the benefit and safety of the competitors.