This isn’t another John Wayne classic, but it’s an opportunity to “holster your guns” and compete.
The origin of this 24-year tradition has not been uncovered, but the Rocky Mountain Shootout will take place again this year Saturday at the Boulder Ranch Cross Country Course on the South Campus.
The cross country meet will begin at 9:15 a.m. for the women and 10 a.m. for the men. The format is a 5.8 km race for women and an 8 km race for men.
This is the second meet of the season for the Buffs and it serves multiple purposes, coaches said.
“It is the first competition that the varsity team will be released to perform as hard as they want,” CU head coach Mark Wetmore said. “We look at it as an opportunity to initially evaluate the strength of our team.”
Assistant coach Heather Burroughs provides a different perspective.
“This meet is important because it is our first serious competition,” Burroughs said. “It is where we are determining our varsity travel roster because of travel limitations and the number of runners that can compete in each race.”
The coaches say they hope this race will help prepare the team to compete in the Big 12 and NCAA championships.
“Our goals remain the same from year to year, to contend for the Big 12 and NCAA Championships,” Wetmore said.
The men’s team has won this event 18 years in a row while the women are riding a 10-year unbeaten streak. It is understandable why Wetmore has such high expectations. The numbers say it all.
The cross country team has been training hard for the past seven weeks to prepare for this meet.
“They do a lot of running and take a few days off after the outdoor season,” Wetmore said. “It’s a 100-mile week and up to 20 miles a day. Our preparation isn’t complicated, we log a lot of minutes and miles.”
Injuries can affect many teams, but Burroughs said she is happy to report that “all varsity contributors are healthy.”
Senior Kenyon Neuman battled a calf injury but says he is ready to win.
“Last year I actually didn’t run the Shootout due to a calf injury,” Neuman said. “This year is mostly a team goal and our team is looking pretty good. My goal is to win, but we have three other guys on our team that are looking good.”
Training is a significant factor in one’s ability to compete, but that hasn’t stopped Neuman.
“My volume isn’t as high as it would have been,” Neuman said. “But it’s anywhere from 85-115 miles.”
Neuman’s goals reflect his desire to make the varsity team.
“I want to win the 8k race,” Neuman said. “And I would definitely be disappointed if I didn’t make the varsity team.”
The goal of being able to contend at the Big 12 and NCAA championships is questionable considering the young women’s team.
The only two seniors on the women’s team are Jenny Barringer and Emily Hanenburg. Both have reputable records. Barringer won the individual title at the 2006 Rocky Mountain Shootout and has three varsity letters. Hanenburg has two varsity letters to boast of her own.
This will be Barringer’s last season at CU, but Burroughs said Hanenburg has a couple more to go.
“This will be Jenny’s last season but luckily, Emily still has two seasons of indoor and outdoor track,” Burroughs said. “Jenny will be sorely missed; she is the best runner CU has ever had.”
Burroughs commented on this possible disadvantage.
“Our women are going to have more young runners, several freshman and sophomores,” Burroughs said. “On Nov. 23 (at the NCAA Championships), the women will be running for the first time. Luckily, we have Barringer and Hanenburg.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Michelle Davenport at Davenpmn@colorado.edu.