The sport of long distance running, an activity that’s been around since the dawn of man, has evolved to become highly competitive. For most people, it is seen as a way to relax and decompress after a long day, or others see it as a way to stay healthy.

For Coach Phil Lundin’s runners, it is seen as something entirely different. As Lundin describes, the supportive environment and the challenge runners face is what keeps his team going. It’s what drives his team to run 14 miles for hours on end. It’s what pushes a runner to go sub five minute mile for five miles. It’s what inspires his athletes to achieve excellence.

“It is a challenge, a testing of one’s ability.” Lundin said. “We don’t use the term pain, maybe discomfort.”

The men’s cross country team competed in the seven team, four-mile Twin Cities Twilight, finishing fourth out of seven teams. They also recently placed second at the Augsburg Invitational, with Thomas Lerdall ’19 finishing sixth overall. The men’s team – ranked fifth in the Central Region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, – have lofty goals for the season.

This season, the team hopes to win the MIAC-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on the eight kilometer course. In previous years, the boys have been known to run that in under 24 minutes.

Junior Alec Getzloff  ’21 feels good about this upcoming season.

“We have a tight spread between our top seven runners, who performed really well at our first race,” Getzloff said.

Getzloff believes that last season was a bit of a hiccup. It was the first time in the last five years that the team did not win the conference title. 

Last year, Carleton narrowly beat St. Olaf in the MIAC, so this season’s goal is fairly obvious. The St. Olaf runners find this challenge in their rivals across the river, on a grassy field that shows which team really wants to win the most.

“We have the goals of winning conference, getting to nationals and performing well there, too,” Getzloff said.

The St. Olaf men’s cross country team will return to action at home on Saturday, Sept. 22 for the St. Olaf Invitational.