Sept. 16, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For the Vanderbilt cross country team and their Coach Steven Keith, this will be a Commodore Classic to remember; kind of ironic considering some 50-60 former alumni will be here to run with the Dore’s – or spectate on Saturday when the ‘Dores take on 15 opposing cross country teams at the invitational.
Clay Herron ’81, a classmate and former runner with Vandy-grad Keith, helped organize the weekend’s festivities that surround the last home meet of the season. The weekend will signal a poignant event for the two who have conspired for nearly a year to make it happen.
“Cross country and track shaped who I am,” said Herron, who earned his MBA at Owen and is now the CFO of an Atlanta software firm. “It defined my entire college experience.” Herron is one of the alumni who won’t be running but will instead pull for Vandy from the coffee and donut perspective. For Senior Adrienne DiRaddo, it’ll be another experience altogether. It will be the last home meet of her four-year career, which nostalgically began when she was recruited into Coach Keith’s first class.
Along with DiRaddo, the women’s team includes five other seniors that will attempt to hold onto their third place position in the South region, where they were ranked by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) this past Monday. The men’s team will honor Bram Chisholm, the lone senior on this year’s squad.
The alumni weekend festivities begin Friday night with an Alumni Social and continue Saturday after the meet with a team/alumni barbeque. The men’s 8k will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday followed by the women’s 5k at 10 a.m. Complete results will be posted to VUCommodores.com.
DiRaddo, (sometimes called Di Rod), talked to VUCommodores.com about race preparation, goals, and hopes for the future.
Are you ready for this weekend’s run? Anything special about the next 72 hours you’ll do to prepare?
“Some people like to ruminate and visualize the race over these next couple of hours but I prefer to make sure I am taking it easy the few days before the meet, getting enough sleep and food in order to feel rested and ready for that nasty 400m hill halfway through the course.”
Think you can beat your personal best (18:37)? What’s your goal for this race?
“Our team is looking at this race this weekend as an opportunity to get more fine tuned for the season ahead, focusing more on closing the gap in the top ten and improving our fitness. I would love to cut down that time but for this meet I'd say my goal is to work on keeping up with the youngins and getting our pack a lot closer together.”
How’s the course looking the last time you ran it?
“Looking pretty much the same as it has the last 7 times I've ran there... and the other 76 we've been there to do workouts and long runs. Coach Keith does a stellar job in the upkeep and making sure all the trolls stay under their respective bridges.”
Any particular opponent you hope to overtake?
“We want to get a little taste of OrangeCrush and take down those Lady Volunteers...”
This’ll be your last home meet, athough you still have two runs prior to NCAA regionals.
“Are you trying to make me sad? Haha no, it's a little bittersweet to run this course for the last time... we've put so much effort into those couple acres over the years and it serves as a reminder of what we've built here at Vandy and have witnessed as this program has grown and continued to grow. It's hard to think the next time we'll run on this course will be as alumni... which will also be running this weekend.”
Feelings about this weekend? Nostalgic? Are you close to the other seniors on the team?
“I guess I covered most of the nostalgia part in the other section but I don't even want to begin to imagine what it's going to be like without my other senior teammates... we've been together for four years, practically living together and hearing about everyone's lives on runs, so it's not going to be easy going our separate ways.”
Plans for the future after this season? Do you imagine running will continue to be a part of your life?
“Well, we still have indoor and outdoor track after this season so running for this year is far from over, but after Vandy there is no doubt running and I will continue to be highly involved (haha). Long distance runners are always a little bit different than other people, we're slightly demented for doing the things we do but it develops a sense of discipline, dedication, and a deadly addiction.”