Run, Buffs, Run

To see CU's next national champs, you'll have to go cross-country.

"You all ready?" Wetmore asks the young women. "Need to rest? Stretch? Meditate? Pray?"

After everyone is set, the coach points to the far end of the grassy field. "Run around the rusty buffalo down there; follow the edge of the field until you get to the big tree in front of the yellow roof over here. That's about 300 yards. If you're going to make a mistake, make it going too slow."

The group starts off. More gangs of men and women filter in. Last in are Jorge and Edwardo. Typically, they arrive together. Wetmore points out the course and cautions Jorge to take it slow. "You could run [an eight-kilometer course] in 23 minutes right now," he admits. "But you'd have a broken leg next week."

The twins take a warmup sprint, and then stop. Jorge jogs over to the trainer; "I have a blister."

"Oh, c'mon," Edwardo says. "You wuss." After Jorge's taping, the two take off toward the rusty buffalo at a brisk pace.

The twins start out together, but Jorge soon surges ahead. Though top runners generally are difficult to tell apart, his stride is genuinely artful, a study in motion economy. Where other runners lean and flail and twist, his upper body stays virtually stone-still and upright, his arms and legs pumping in small, precisely repetitious movements. From a distance, he moves so lightly he seems to be gliding across the ground. After the 300-yard interval, he slows down and lets his brother catch up.

Wetmore says this could be Jorge's year: "Only three collegians beat him all of last year. He could run an excellent race and still come in fourth. But those guys will have to run the best race of their lives to beat him. He's trained harder and trained more. And he's angrier."

The coach admits the team's title hunt probably won't happen in front of screaming fans. "We're not football, and we're not basketball, and we're not women's basketball," he says.

Jorge shrugs; he's not in it for the crowds. "I'm doing this because I love it," he says. "If nobody comes out and watches, that's fine."

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