LA JOLLA, Calif. — The University of California San Diego men’s and women’s cross country teams kick off the 2018 season on Saturday morning at the 34thAnnual Mark Covert Classic, held at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif.
“I’m really excited,” said head coach Nate Garcia. “We’ve had a great first three weeks of practice and have put in a lot of hard work all summer.
“The team really came in fit and ready to roll. We’re excited to see what that looks like in uniform and measure ourselves against some good squads, while also seeing what we need to work on as we move into the season.”
For the first time in the meet’s history, there will be four separate races on Saturday. The men’s non-division I 8K is set to begin at 8 a.m., with the women’s non-division I 5K scheduled for 9:40 a.m.
The course includes multiple loops alternating between a 1K grass inner loop in the main section of the park, as well as a dirt-trail nature loop. There is also a 150-meter section of concrete pathway on the second nature loop of the men’s course.
UC San Diego hasn’t competed in the Covert Classic since 2000, but the team is well aware of challenges the course presents.
“We do a lot of prep work for the course,” said senior Shalyn Mabritto. “We watched video on previous races, so we saw the terrain and what to look out for.
“I expect it to be challenging. A lot of the other schools are familiar with the course, but it’s going to be new to us. So that will be a little bit of a challenge too.”
Garcia added: “That’s one of the beauties of cross country. Everywhere you go it’s a little bit different. It’s not standardized like some sports.”
The Tritons are coming off training camp in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where the team worked out in 8,000-feet minimum elevation and did some hiking at 10,000 feet.
The men’s team ran about 85 total miles during the camp, while the women’s team tallied as many as 70 miles.
“It was a lot of fun,” said senior Sam Blake, “a lot of team bonding, but also a lot of running.”
For Garcia, the team camaraderie aspect of the trip was just as important as the training.
“The team-building dynamic was spectacular,” he said. “The group is much closer and the freshmen are fully integrated into what we’re doing now. It was a great time.”