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Ithaca running clubs start adult cross-country season

by Aidan Quigley and Kyle Stewart

After running as part of the High Noon Athletic Club during his time at Cornell University, Adam Engst returned to the Ithaca area after 10 years living in Seattle. He wandered into Cornell’s Teagle Hall, wondering if the running club was still meeting.

“I walk in, and people say, ‘We haven’t seen you in awhile,’” Adam Engst said. “‘You haven’t seen me in 10 years!’ But they still remembered. It’s a longstanding group.”    

High Noon has been meeting since 1982, and every weekday, members meet at Teagle Hall at noon. Most have connections to Cornell University, and many have been running with the group for years.

“The beauty of High Noon is that it is completely informal,” Adam Engst said. “You show up at noon, and you run. It’s as simple as that.”

One runner who recently started going to High Noon is Jean-Luc Jannik, who said he enjoys the explorative nature of running.

“There’s all these spaces between the roads, you never discover,” Jannik said. “You start running, and all of a sudden, the world is two dimensional. You go by all these places you never knew existed in some pocket of the world.”

Some members of High Noon also participate in the Pete Glavin XC series, a series of five crosscountry races throughout upstate New York. The series was founded 27 years ago, and teams come from throughout the region. Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo, are the three biggest groups.

“We do okay, but Ithaca is distinctly smaller than all of those cities, so we don’t quite have the pool to draw from,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve had a bunch of winning teams in age groups. And individual winners, so we acquit ourselves well.”

Many of the runners on the team are former high school crosscountry runners, who miss both the competition and camaraderie of being part of a crosscountry team, Adam Engst said.

“There’s so many things that you spend a lot of time doing in school, and then you never get to do them again,” he said. “If you ran crosscountry in high school, it’s an experience.”

The runners miss the days of going to races, running on beautiful fall days, and spending time with friends on their teams. The friendships made at High Noon are part of the reasons people keep coming back, Adam Engst said, and part of the reason they want to join the crosscountry team.    

“There will always be people here, you can always find someone to run with,” he said. “And over the years, after you’ve run with someone for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, they get to be your friends.”

The Pete Glavin XC series is also more competitive than local 5ks. For example, Adam said he usually finishes in the top three of local 5ks, but finished 32nd at the opening race of the Pete Glavin series.   

“There’s a lot more good runners, too, so it’s good to have that competition level.,” he said.

For Adam Engst, crosscountry is a passion he shares with his wife, Tonya. They both enjoyed crosscountry in high school and love that they now get to compete on a team once again. Tonya’s experience with crosscountry, though, started much earlier than high school.

“I’ve been involved with the Finger Lakes Running Club since I was six years old, maybe three years old,” Tonya Engst said. “I used to go to Barton Hall with my parents and ride around in one of those little kid scooter things … so my whole life basically.”

Her time with the Finger Lakes Running Club as an adult goes back five years. And this year, Tonya Engst became the captain of the women’s team. She said this is a teambuilding year to gather people interested in running and train for a 5k race. Tonya Engst wants to show runners, experienced and inexperienced, that it can be fun to run as part of a team.

“I find that racing, and really trying to race as fast as you can in a team really brings out the best in you,” Tonya Engst said. “It comes over into other parts of your life. It’s so fun.”

Tonya Engst said she doesn’t know what made her run in high school, but that she is glad she found cross-country back then. Her passion for the sport continues today.

“I love it, I absolutely love it,” she said. “I can think of few things better to do than to get out on some of the prettier runs in Ithaca with a group of people. You’re together with people, together with nature.”

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