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Running under the radar, senior Alasdair McLean-Foreman had the week’s best performance for Harvard at cross country’s Heptagonal Championships last Friday. McLean-Foreman finished in second place with a time of 24:44.5 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City, the race that determined the Ivy League cross country champion. For his efforts, he earned First-Team All-Ivy honors.
Perhaps more remarkable than his speedy performance is that cross country isn’t his primary sport. McLean-Foreman, whose main focus is actually track and field, had the cross country race of his life when it counted the most.
“Cross-country has been a bit of a surprise as I’m not doing nearly as much mileage as the top college guys,” McLean-Foreman said. “I’ll build upon the aerobic base cross-country has given me, and when we start doing faster workouts for track, I hope to make some big improvements.”
Over the 8000 meter course—just under five miles—McLean-Foreman averaged 4:58.6 minutes per mile. His time was just 18 seconds behind the winner, Steve Sundell of Columbia. Sundell will likely finish in the top 25 of NCAA runners.
“A number of other runners were predicted to beat [McLean-Foreman] in the pre-race polls, but he was confident that he could run with anyone in the league,” said junior captain Reed Bienvenu. “Columbia’s Steve Sundell quickly separated himself from the rest of the pack, but Alasdair wasn’t content to remain in the chase pack.”
According to Bienvenu, McLean-Foreman is now projected to finish first in the Ivy Leagues next year. His endurance will be tested again in two weeks, when the Crimson races in the NCAA North East regional 10K meet at Franklin Park in Boston.
Besides focusing more on the indoor season this fall rather than cross country, McLean-Foreman has been occupied running his own on-line sports merchandise store. He took last year off from school to focus on training and managing HDO Sport, which will be maintained throughout the school year.
“He is always very smart about his training, which allows him to be in optimal fitness for any distance,” Bienvenu said. “I remember how distraught the team was last year when he said that he was going to take the year off, but now it has turned into a huge advantage for us because he has another year to race with us.”
Over this past summer, McLean-Foreman trained in Britain, and proved his speed by competing with some of that nation’s top runners. In two separate British Miler’s Club Nike Grand Prix meets, he placed sixth in his 1500-meter heat with a time of 3:47.53 and seventh in his 800-meter heat with a time of 1:49.79. To put his times in perspective, last spring’s 1500 meter Ivy champion had a time of 3:46.63, and the 800 meter winner had a time of 1:49.68.
Beyond this year’s track season, McLean-Foreman has an eye on competing in the British Olympic trials this summer for a chance to go to the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“Its very tough competing against full-time athletes, but I enjoy being an underdog,” McLean-Foreman said. “I’ll just do my best and see what happens.”
And the Harvard cross country team looks to do its best next year with McLean-Foreman at the helm.
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