During my high school years I attended a small private school in the high desert of LA county where I was a part of the cross country team. Why did I run? Two reasons. 1) It got me out having to take a PE class every day for the duration of the school year. 2) I tried out for all the other sports teams and never made the final cut. So I ran each season during my Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years and developed a love/hate relationship with running. There is nothing more formidable than running 14 miles after school, at a steady pace, on the outskirts of town, and in 100 degree heat. You find yourself questioning whether you have what it takes to make it to the end of the run, how easy it would be to give up, and if you got lost and stranded how long it would take for anyone to find you in the vast desert that was the Antelope Valley. You know – “meaning of life” type stuff.
Of course all of these long training runs where meant to prepare you for the weekly 3-mile races. We were considered a small school so we were grouped with similar schools within our region during our regular season. At several points throughout our season we would have the opportunity to race against schools outside of our region in CIF invitationals, with the most notable race being the Annual Bellarmine Griffith Park Cross Country Invitational (here is a taste for those of you who have never been to a cross country race). Every year there were certain schools that were the teams to beat and the team from McFarland, CA consistently proved to be a powerhouse team. Every year I would cheer for them, even if I was running against them, because they were 1) hard-core, amazingly talented runners, 2) we shared a Mexican heritage, and 3) they trained in worst conditions than I did. So when I saw that Disney Pictures had produced a movie about the original McFarland cross country team I had to share my story with you and give my respects. Although I never ran against the team portrayed in the movie, I did race against the legacy that this team founded, and hopefully I’ll one day have a son or daughter that gets a chance to compete against the future running greats from McFarland, CA.