As the fastest Stanford woman in a pack of more than 200 collegiate runners, All-American Arianna Lambie, ’07, led the cross-country team to its third NCAA championship on November 21. It was the second title in three years for the women’s squad.
The co-captain crossed the finish line eighth in the 6,000-meter race with a time of 19:59.1, just slightly off her personal best of 19:29.3, which she set when she clinched the West Regional title earlier in the month. The Cardinal women compiled a team score of 146 points, outpacing runner-up Colorado, which had 181 points (the lowest score wins). Also contributing to the effort were Katy Trotter, ’07 (20:18.4), Lindsay Flacks, ’08 (20:24.6), Lauren Centrowitz, ’08 (20:39.4), and co-captain Teresa McWalters, ’07 (21:03.2). The sixth-ranked Stanford men finished in sixth place.
“Getting the team victory was the most emotional event I’ve ever been through,” Lambie said. “We all had to go our separate ways for Thanksgiving [after the race], but we just embraced and cried.”
First-year head coach Peter Tegen, who came to Stanford with 30 years’ experience at the University of Wisconsin, saw the Cardinal women win all seven races they competed in this season, taking home the West Regional title and the Pac-10 title. “This is a tight-knit team, and we have a good front runner in Arianna,” he said after the NCAAs. “It’s thrilling knowing that everybody will be back next year.”
Lambie’s father, Fred, introduced her to running when she was in middle school, and she’s been racing over hills and down trails ever since. (She and her dad “very occasionally still run,” she says, “for old times’ sake.”) Both Fred, ’81, and mom Trudy made the trip to the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind., to see the NCAA race, and Lambie said watching spectators follow the action was pretty comical: “Fans try to run from one point to another on the course.”
A middle-distance runner who enjoys 800- and 1500-meter races during track season, Lambie was stretched by the 6,000-meter event. “I was thinking about how I could be on the brink of ‘as fast as I can‚ without redlining’—going over the threshold, where you run out of fuel too fast, like a car overheating,” she recalls. She trained over the summer by running 50 miles per week, taking a day off every week or two. “During the fall I focused on [the 6,000 meters] because it was the only event,” she says. “Over the last three years I’ve gotten a lot stronger and more focused about how to approach races and how to stay determined in training.”
As the front runner, it’s up to Lambie to keep her teammates on pace. “Sometimes, when we’re next to each other, we shout words of encouragement, like, ‘We’ve got this, Stanford,’ or, ‘I’m gonna try to catch that girl.’ ” So, is there a lot of chatting that goes on? “Very brief words.”