Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cross-Country Training, Military Style

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cross-Country Training, Military Style

Article excerpt

The Navy SEALs may have left members of the Bergen Catholic and Immaculate Heart cross-country teams bruised, definitely sore, and certainly with a new appreciation for sand.

But they didn't break them.

"At the end, the thing I was most shocked about was that they were sad they were leaving," IHA/Bergen Catholic cross-country coach John Downey said. "I was shocked. They were genuinely upset."

"We went down there kind of intimidated of what the SEALs would be like, but when we got there, they were actually very nice," IHA senior Colleen Buckley said. "For the couple of days we were down there, we became like one big team."

Always looking for a new way to motivate and train his teams, Downey had the idea of sending his runners to work with the SEALs, but not just for a day. He wanted them to get a real taste of their training and their life.

Through some friends and contacts that he had cultivated from working at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, Downey arranged for 38 runners (22 girls and 16 boys) to spend three days at a military facility in Virginia.

The teams stayed in a nearby hotel, but for three days, they woke up anytime between 4 and 5:15 a.m. and were transported to the base. For approximately 12 hours, with only a short break for lunch, they were put through a fierce training regimen.

They ran sprints in soft sand under a hot sun. They completed obstacle courses timed and untimed. They had to finish a 500-yard swim. They had to get an inflatable raft over a wall. They did push- ups. They did pull-ups. And when it was over, one trainer asked them if they were ready to do it again.

"I think the toughest part of the training was the sand-dune runs," said Buckley, a senior. "We're all in shape, so most of the regular running and general fitness stuff we could handle, but running in the soft sand in the heat was really tough. …

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