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Sophomore Madison Granger recently attended  preseason cross country camp at Blowing Rock, N.C. with Blue Devil teammates and shared her experience. Below is the first of two installments from the Duke women's cross country preseason blog.

The team’s preseason camp was a cross country runner’s dream getaway. Our three-night trip to ZAP Fitness in Blowing Rock, North Carolina provided the perfect start to what we anticipate will be a very special season.

For a group of people that love running through the woods, the setting couldn’t have been more alluring; its breathtaking views of Appalachia showcased endless seas of lush greenery. These dense forests housed scenic running trails, cold streams great for ice bathing, and a quaint lodge isolated from the outside world. It was the ideal set up for training and coming together as a team.

One of our first initiatives was to spend time reflecting on our group goals. In the summer, the team received positive publicity regarding how well we can do this season. Certainly, this has encouraged us to aim high and has been a source of confidence and excitement. However, we all know that predictions don’t hold any material value. For us, our publicity simply affirms that we have great potential. In terms of acting on this potential, our first step was to toss predictions out the window and focus on coming together as a highly competitive and cohesive team, like we strive to do every year.

At camp, our captains led group discussions on what we can do to make that happen. Together, we developed goals that focused not on where we want to finish, but how we want to get there. Being disciplined in our actions both in and out of practice, embracing challenges, and demonstrating mental toughness were all established as key factors to having a successful season. We also committed to bringing positivity to practices and building each other up. By acting out these objectives, we will each add value to the team, whether we are injured, in racing shape, or somewhere in between.

The goals that we set at camp were established by us and for us. We committed to put forth our best and did so not for ourselves, not for Coach Kevin, but for the sake of pursuing excellence as a team.

Luckily, it doesn’t feel like work to commit yourself to a group’s goals when you have as much fun together as we do. Our trip to ZAP included plenty of time for having fun and building memories together. We spent our afternoons laughing at each other, whether from getting covered in egg during our partner toss game or struggling to get a cookie from our foreheads to our mouths without using our hands. Between bonfires and charades, spontaneous dance parties and spirited color wars ensembles, there was never a dull moment.

Our team chemistry was present in our training sessions as well. As we warmed up for our first workout, the joy of being back together was evident in our eyes. For months we had run tough workouts on our own, envisioning our teammates beside us. Finally, we were together again, encouraging and pushing each other as we bolted through mud, up hills, and past pain.

Duke Women’s Cross Country has started off strong: coming together as a team, working hard with and for each other, and establishing a clear vision for the season. Heading into the start of our semester, we’re more confident than ever that great things lie ahead.

-Madison Granger


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