Training for life
RMXCC in year nine of turning out more than top running talent
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2013-07-11
Rachel Sadoff lives in Rome. Not Rome, N.Y., and not Rome, Ga. We’re talking Rome, Italy, which is about 14 hours from Gunnison in commercial flying time.
But for the past 12 days, Sadoff has been living on the Western State Colorado University (WSCU) campus. As an attendee of Trent Sanderson’s Rocky Mountain Cross Country Camp (RMXCC), she travelled all that way just to be among the elite.
“The kind of kids that come here are incredible at what they do and their passion is inspirational in every way,” said Sadoff, a high school junior. “I know that I’m getting psychologically and physically stronger just because of the lectures and tips, and way we can apply them in the afternoon runs.”
In its ninth year operating in the Gunnison Valley, the Rocky Mountain Cross Country camp is a major component of Sanderson’s Team Prep USA program. Across the span of about six weeks this summer, the top prep distance runners from across the country, and world, will travel into and out of the Gunnison Valley just to train under Sanderson.
This year’s roster of athletes includes runners from 37 different states in the U.S., plus China, Guam and Egypt, just to name a few more countries.
What takes place over the course of those six weeks — most of the campers stay for a 10 or 20 day duration — is preparation for a meeting with success.
“We always talk about this program being a life program,” said Sanderson. “We talk about successful habits and networking. What we’re doing is holding each other accountable.”
While Sanderson believes the program is still in its infancy, there’s been measurable results to suggest that success is indeed what is being bred at the RMXCC.
The rap sheet on past campers includes accolades such as numerous NCAA Div. I All-American honors, top finishes at the U.S. Track and Field Championships and even trips to the Olympic Games. Crested Butte’s Emma Coburn, who placed ninth at the London Olympic Games in 2012, is a product of Sanderson’s coaching methods.
According to Sanderson, it’s success stories such as Coburn’s that are driving more and more elite athletes into the RMXCC’s doors.
“What’s really neat is that we’re finding more and more that when people turn to a camp in the U.S., they’re seeking us out from the attention that came from Emma going to London,” said Sanderson, a former Div. I coach at Maryland.
While at the camp, it’s not just about putting paws on the pavement and loading up on miles. The athletes sit in on lectures from some of the foremost minds in the running business, including a nutritionist, a former admissions councilor from Yale University and numerous high school and collegiate coaches.
They even manage to fit in a little SAT preparation class in between logging long days on one trail or another throughout the area.
For Noah Gade, who has attended the RMXCC for the past four years, whatever he’s been learning here has paid off. This fall, the National Merit Scholarship winner and defending Oklahoma state champion will get to run for his hometown Cowboys at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.
“The camp has helped me a lot, not only in athletic preparation, but mental preparation and preparation to succeed in all aspects of life,” said Gade. “It teaches you how to be a successful person and that’s what a lot of us take to heart.”
Sanderson credits a lot of the camp’s success to the staff that surrounds him and the location that it is in. While Team Prep USA has year-round offices in Mt. Crested Butte, campers live on the WSCU campus, eat at the dining hall for most of their meals and spend the majority of their time in Gunnison.
Rates for attending the RMXCC range from $675 to $2,500, depending the length of each athlete’s stay. So far for Sadoff, who had travel expenses to tack on to that bill, the experience has been worth it.
“The kids here just love what they do,” she said. “Coming into this camp, running was starting to feel like a chore and now it’s become a passion again.”
For more information about the RMXCC and Team Prep USA, visit teamprepusarunning.com.
(Matt Smith can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)