Going the Extra Kilometer

Girls cross country races transition from 4K to 5K


Even though girls ran 5Ks in 46 of the 50 states, girls in Kansas ran 4Ks until this season.

The change to 5Ks is something cross country coach Diana Huber said was a long time coming.

Until 10 years ago, the girls race was only two miles, Huber said.

“It [changed to] 4Ks because they didn’t think girls could go from a 2-mile to a 5K,” Huber said. “That was their meeting in the middle.”

Huber said she’s spent the last 10 years trying to finish the transition to 5Ks.

“Other states have the girls run 5Ks, [and] I don’t think girls in Kansas are any weaker,” Huber said.

Senior Erin O’Toole has run cross country for three years and agreed girls can run just as far as the boys.

“Boys run 5Ks, [and] it seemed unequal to think we couldn’t run 5Ks because of our gender,” O’Toole said.

Even though they didn’t run 5Ks in Kansas, the cross country team competed in two meets a year in Missouri, so the girls could have a chance to run 5Ks.

“Most of the varsity at least is excited that it’s a 5K and not a 4K,” Huber said.

Huber said she’s increasing the varsity team’s training so they can excel in the extra distance.

“It won’t change much for JV, but for varsity, we’re doing two-a-days [with] a cross-training workout to supplement without hurting them,” Huber said.

This year, the team is utilizing the district cross country course, which is conveniently located at Blue Valley. It was redone this summer after the original course was turned into the new practice fields.
“As long as the middle schools aren’t on [the course], we’ll practice there at least once a week,” Huber said.

There are going to be multiple meets run on the new course this year, she said.

“It’ll be a benefit because we’ll be there so much that we’ll know the nooks and crannies,” Huber said. “It won’t seem as hard or as hilly because we’ll be there so often.”

O’Toole said she’s worried about how the extra kilometer is going to affect her season.

“I probably will not do as well as I have the past few years because I’ve noticed my 5K times don’t correlate by just adding the equivalent time of [six-tenths] of a mile,” O’Toole said.

O’Toole said her 4Ks are better because it’s easier for her to keep a good pace.

“I was able to do better with the shorter distance and was able to [quicken] my pace,” O’Toole said.

She said even though she might not excel in the 5Ks, some girls definitely would.

“Others might be a lot better because they’re used to running long distances at the same pace,” O’Toole said.

O’Toole said she has to make adjustments for the extra distance.

“Is crying a possible solution for adding the extra half mile? I think I’ll cry,” O’Toole said.