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As the throng of more than 200 runners in the NCAA Division III men's national cross-country championship entered the critical funnel where the course narrows from the wide mass start to a normal-width running path, traffic got congested. It was November 18 in Spokane, Wash. Colby freshman Nat Brown, the only member of Colby's men's team to qualify for the national meet, was in the middle of the pack, running well, his sights set on finishing among the top 100 runners. He remembers getting jostled at about the half-mile mark. He planted his left shoe, pushed forward, and when his foot came down again his shoe was goneneatly stripped off by the half-inch spike on an opponent's shoe.
Racers were wearing spikes because snow covered the course. Stunned both by his ill fortune and the snow that saturated his thin sock, Brown knew he had four and a half miles to go. "I didn't really know what to do," he said. Forget finishing in the top 100, it would take determination to finish at all.
Having traveled literally across the country to run, he said to himself, "I'm not going to quit just because I lost a shoe." The course required three laps around a loop. "I saw it twice," he said of his shoe. By the first pass his foot was wet, cold and sore. By the second, "It hurt a hell of a lot," Brown said.
But finish he did, and far from last. At 27:21.1 over the 8,000-meter course he finished 184th. His time was 2:33 off the winning pace, 2:43 better than the 215th and last runner, and just 1:40 slower than he ran at the New England regional meet, where he had qualified for the national race. At that meet in Massachusetts, men's cross-country placed 16th among 32 New England Division III teams.
Brown, from Wellesley, Mass., said, "In New England you get used to running in adverse weather conditions."
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Nuclear Fiction: Daniel Traister '63 Delves Into the Fiction of World War II
The Hot Zone and the Cold War: Frank Malinoski '76 Investigates Biological Warfare
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College Colby Magazine 4181
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