Pain of the Willow Hill Reservoir

The Willow Hill Reservoir Course at Folsom High School is the bane of my existence as a runner. The course is comprised of a flat loop around a pond and a back section that consists of more hills than almost any other course the team runs. It is even more difficult for us Varsity runners, as we have to run the hill loop twice.

Despite the hill training we had been doing in practice, I dreaded the Bella Vista Bronco Invitational, which would be run on the Willow Hill course. In my two previous races on the course, I failed to perform well. Jesuit needed a good race after a string of poor team performances.

Before the race, the coaches instructed me to start off fast, just as they had all season. In every previous race, I failed to do this. But not today. I was seeded 30th going into the race, but when the gun went off, I sprinted hard, trying to get near the front of the pack.

Thirty seconds into the race, I realized that I had started too fast. I was in fourth place at the quarter mile mark. This error frustrated me, and my lack of mental focus led to me being passed by almost 40 runners in the next minute.

During the first big hill, the freeway hill, I pushed hard and passed five runners going up the hill and five more going down.

Immediately the next hill began. Looking ahead, Matt Strangio ‘20 was in first place, followed by a pack of McClatchy High School runners. I was in 25th place at this point, but I needed to move up during the next lap if the team was to place.

My legs were burning as I grinded up the second freeway hill and burned even more as I made the hairpin turn at the peak accelerated down the steep hill.

Upon reaching the last big hill, I knew that I had little more than a half mile to go and started moving up. I passed multiple runners over the next few minutes. The gradual uphill towards the finish was a struggle, but I managed to pass a few more runners before the finish line.

I placed 12th with a time of 16:49, a personal best for the course. I was the second runner for Jesuit. At the team tent, I learned that our team placed second overall.

The race was definitely my best performance yet. I left knowing I had broken the curse of the Willow Hill Reservoir Course.