Alumni race kicks off cross country season

On Sept. 11, runners from St. Olaf past and present participated in the annual co-ed 5K Alumni Race. This race, according to Jens “Woody” Lange ’22, is the oldest of its kind in the country. This long-honored tradition helps current Oles feel connected to the long legacy of Ole runners. 

Zoe Plechaty ’23, a runner on the women’s team, said, “it’s great to have a bunch of strong women in sport coming together in community.” Additionally, the race helps bring the two teams together at the beginning of the season. This race is the only time the men and women will compete together, as they run different distances during their official season. 

Among the alumni running was a past coach pushing one of his children in a stroller and a man lovingly nicknamed Sparky, who, according to Lange was “the oldest known runner [in the race]. he graduated in the 70s, and He’s run every single alumni race since he’s graduated.” According to Anders “Jeb” Narum ’22, there were over 40 alumni in attendance, a high turnout compared to past years. 

The current women’s team beat the women’s alumni 23-38, whereas the men’s alumni beat the current men’s team 27-30.  Narum, one of the men’s team captains, said that this race shows that “We have a team and a culture that goes past people’s four years and that they’re still excited about running and want to do well.” The current team’s performance in this race does not worry captain Jeb as he noted that “we aren’t in our best shape which is exactly where we want to be. We want to be in our best shape come Champion season.”

Woody added that according to team lore, “The last time we lost to the alumni was the first time the team went to Nationals and won Conference. People were saying it’s a good sign.” 

The women’s team noted similar hopes for their season, with Sophie Gossard ’23 saying, “We are hoping to make it to Nationals, but more importantly winning our region.” These teams will be exciting to watch as the rest of their seasons unfold. Be sure to keep an eye out for their upcoming races and go support your fellow Oles! and

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