Clubs. Although I had little to do with it, the Warren Street Masters Men’s team won the NYRR championship today. The NYRR holds races about once a month that are “club races” in which clubs get points based upon their finish, e.g., 1st = 15, 2nd = 12. (Points are doubled for the Club Championship race in August.) One race was excluded this year because of weather, and the top nine races count.

This year, led by Paul Thompson, a Brit who lives in Peekskill, WSSAC easily won, taking six of the 11 scoring races, including today. The races vary in distance, from 4 miles to the marathon.

The great part of these races is that they bring the cream of the crop to race, and they provide a good schedule for a season. I knew whenever I raced one of these, the AG competition would be intense, and it was. Unfortunately, Greg Diamond, who runs for Taconic, tended to show up as well, and he dominated the 50-54 AG.

I consider myself something of the 6th man on an XC team, i.e., generally not a scorer but insurance in case one of the top guys — these races score 3 (except for the Champs, when it’s 5) — misses the race, so that we don’t drop too far. So I ran some races although not in shape for whatever reason for the team. It’s part of my obligation.

This relatively insignificant aspect of things was a reason I decided to re-join Warren Street earlier this year. The members are as compulsive about their running as I am. We don’t have the depth of some other clubs, so we rely on a core group. And the Club and the Series makes things more interesting. It can seem silly to show up at a race in a club singlet, but I’ve long viewed it as part of the sport. I sometimes wonder during races in Central Park what the tourists think of all of us in our various outifts, Warren Street blue, CPTC orange, Urban Athletics red, Westchester blue, Harrier black.

The Club races used to be very much a hassle. In the old days, you could get near the start near the start-time and slip in. Then NYRR put up barricades, and you couldn’t get near the start (or as close to the start as I warrant getting) unless you were in place way beforehand. Forget warm-up.

Now, the starts are divided by times. I get in the sub-1000 group, which is more open for longer and allows for easy pre-race positioning. Most of us know who everyone else is, and most have a sense of where we each belong. It’s not as manic as it used to be and you don’t have as many people in the front who don’t belong there. It makes things much better.