DURHAM, N.C. – For the first weekend of the season, the Duke women’s cross country team got away from campus to build some team camaraderie. The Blue Devils spent the weekend in Blowing Rock, N.C. at Zap Fitness.
With a young team that includes six newcomers and does not have any seniors, a weekend together gave the team a chance to get to know each other better before the start of the school year.
“This is my favorite time of the year, when the team gets back together,” said head coach Rhonda Riley. “Going away to the mountains gives the team the chance to connect, set goals, and form a bond with each other that is so important in our sport, all while putting in some quality training on the trails.”
Zap Fitness proved to be a great spot for the weekend experience. Zap is a non-profit training center for post-collegiate Olympic hopeful distance runners. The Duke team was able to travel to Bass Lake and Trout Lake to train on the trails there. When the Blue Devils were not training, they spent time eating meals together as well as taking part in fun activities like a team yoga session.
“Zap Fitness has always been a team bonding trip that we all look forward to heading into preseason,” said junior captains Liz Lansing and Olivia Gwynn. “Not only is the camp an ideal training environment away from the whirlwind of Duke’s campus, but it allows us to connect with our fellow teammates on a deeper level. It provides the perfect opportunity for us to spend quality time getting to know each other, outlining our goals for the season, training at a high level, and of course, having fun!”
The team loses just one runner from the 2016 team, bringing back all six runners that ran in the ACC Cross Country Championships last year. That includes Sophia Parvizi-Wayne who earned All-ACC Honors in her freshman year. Parvizi-Wayne, Lindsay Billings, and Sarah Armstrong all ran new personal best times at the ACC Championships while Gabrielle Richichi did the same at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships.
Along with the ten returning runners, Duke adds six talented freshmen to its roster. The weekend trip away for the weekend allowed the team to get better acquainted with both the freshmen as well as new volunteer assistant coach Daniel Goetz.
“It was enjoyable for me to watch the upperclassmen interact with the freshmen,” Riley commented. “It is going to be a great year with this squad!”
Duke will open the year by hosting the Bull City Classic on Friday, Sept. 1. The Blue Devils will compete in five more meets throughout the regular season, all leading up to the ACC Cross Country Championships on Friday, Oct. 27 in Louisville, Ky.