The TCU cross country team will be facing not only a physical challenge but also an emotional test at the 25th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.
This year, the length of the race changed.
The men’s squad will be running an 8K while the women’s squad will compete in a 5K race. Last year, the men’s squad ran a 10K while the women’s squad completed a 6K.
Last season, the TCU women’s squad finished ninth while the men’s squad finished 23rd.
Graduate assistant Lindsey Campbell, who handles all media relations responsibilities for TCU cross country, wrote in an email cross country personnel have not yet been made available for interviews at this point in the season.
However, former TCU distance runner Dave Emerson, who completed four years of eligibility at the end of the 2012 season, was available for comment.
Emerson said staying focused for the duration of the race was the most challenging aspect of the competition at the Chile Pepper Festival.
“It [was] a long race, so anything can happen in that amount of time and staying focused for that long is a challenge in itself,” Emerson said.
One of the best runners could ruin the race if he or she does not fight for a position from the very start, he said. Teamwork and control of the body would help carry a team across the finish line.
Emerson said it was also important to focus on moving forward during the race. Working with teammates and keeping your eyes ahead of the runner in front of you were two ways of continuing momentum throughout the race, he said.
“You got to find someone in a Horned Frog uniform and work together,” he said. “That way it would help you push each other.”
The Frogs will be running alongside conference opponents Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
The Chile Pepper Festival will be the last competition before the Big 12 Championships in November.
The outcome of the Chile Pepper Festival affects a distance runner’s ability to compete in the conference championship, Emerson said.
Emerson was sick and unable to finish the race in 2011, which held him back from competing in the Big 12 Championships. However, he was able to train and maintain his health leading up to the Championship the following season.
“One bad race says a lot to a coach,” Emerson said.
This Saturday, the men’s squad will run at 9:45 a.m. and the women’s squad will follow at 10:20 a.m. at the University of Arkansas cross country course.