Conditions were hot, the course was consistently hilly and the medical tent was swamped as runners dealt with heat stroke — but every team struggled with these factors.
For most of the men competing, it was their first race of the season, which VanAlstyne said likely hurt them.
“In hindsight, we probably could’ve used a competitive effort for those guys before now,” he said.
John Raneri crossed the line first for the Tar Heels, finishing 11th place overall. Raneri made a move and took the lead about halfway through the race but could not sustain the position to the finish line.
“Well, when I made the move, it was too early; it was purely natural instinct. I definitely should have been a little more conservative, but I saw a little bit of weakness, and I took advantage of it,” he said. “Unfortunately, I paid for that at the end.”
Ultimately, Raneri said he was pleased with his performance and viewed the race as a learning experience.
“It’s a race that brings a lot of confidence knowing I can run with the big fellows,” he said.
On the women’s side, senior Lianne Farber said she wasn’t unhappy with her performance but not entirely satisfied, a sentiment she said she thought most of her teammates shared.
“We were pleasantly surprised because we all thought the same way because we all did well but thought we could’ve done better,” she said. “I thought third place was pretty good because a lot of teams were ranked, and we were only ranked 30th coming into the week.”
Farber led the Tar Heels with a 10th place individual finish, followed closely by senior Annie LeHardy, who finished 13th.
“I was impressed that everyone fought as hard as they did,” Farber said. “It was a really tough course, and I’m sure everyone was doubting how well they would be able to do toward the end.”
The women beat four ranked teams but still feel they could have done better.
“I think we can be happy with today’s performance on the women’s side, but I certainly don’t think the ladies are satisfied,” VanAlstyne said. “I think they know there’s more in the tank.”