Senior Nora Blodgett has finished first place for the Swarthmore Women’s Cross Country team at every meet this season. She looks to continue to improve upon her time at the Centennial Conference Championships this weekend.
Ally Scheve: What attracted you to Swarthmore’s XC program?
Nora Blodgett: As a prospective student, I was specifically searching for a school that prioritized academics while also having a strong running program. Our coaches recognize that we are all student-athletes with a heavy academic course load, and are flexible to training adjustments that need to be made due to academic obligations. In addition, unlike many other programs, Swarthmore’s XC team doesn’t “seat people on the bench” or make cuts based on times. Everyone, regardless of ability, is able to have a full racing season and reach their own athletic potential.
AS: What is your major and why?
NB: I am a major in engineering with a minor in computer science. I have always had a passion for S.T.E.M. related fields, but I enjoy engineering in particular because it’s such an interdisciplinary and practical field. There are multiple types of problems you can try to solve with engineering (environmental, medical, computer/electrical, etc), each equally exciting and important in society. Overall, I find engineering very challenging and I want to prove to myself that I really can do it!
AS: What are your personal and team goals for the rest of the season?
NB: As a team, it would be great to have a strong performance at the Centennial Conference Championships in less than two weeks (both on the men’s and women’s side). As an individual, I would like to continue to be a leader for the team and help support others to reach their personal best times. Since it is my senior year, I also have some ambitious goals for myself, such as finishing All-Conference and hitting a new personal best time in the 6000m.
AS: What is your favorite thing to do with the XC team off the field?
NB: Many of my teammates are also my classmates and close friends, and I really enjoy working with them on labs/homework or visiting Media and trying out new restaurants. I particularly enjoy some organized team activities, like movie nights and our annual sweatshirt swim relays.
AS: What are your pre and post meet rituals?
NB: Before the race, I listen to a collection of “race day” songs and make an effort to stay as relaxed as possible. In general, the hour before a race consists of a [one to two] mile warm up run, a team stretching routine, and some short, fast strides right before the start. I also have some funny “placebo” rituals like wearing the same race day socks and eating Mott’s fruit snacks right before the race.
AS: What is the most important lesson that you have learned from your time on the team?
NB: I feel like I’ve learned a great deal from my time on the team and I am still learning new things every day. One lesson, which has been highlighted by COVID and the cancelation of the season during the 2020-2021 academic year, is to appreciate every day of practice and every race that you have the opportunity to be a part of. I am already a senior and college has zipped by, and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to test my potential in so many races and run with such amazing athletes here at Swarthmore.
AS: What has been your favorite moment of the season thus far?
NB: One of my favorite memories from this season was our annual sweatshirt swim relays. This is a goofy, optional event where the men’s and women’s XC team divide into smaller teams and perform different types of swimming strokes across Ware Pool. The “baton” is a bulky sweater that must be worn while swimming. Since we are all runners and not swimmers, it is super hilarious to see the whole team clumsily flop and splash their way across the water.
AS: What is your favorite part about race day?
NB: Aside from the race itself, my second favorite part of race day is probably after my race, when I can finally relax and cheer on my teammates in the later races. Watching (and being a part of) the start of a large cross country race is a surreal experience. It’s a massive stampede of people, with (sometimes literally) hundreds of legs all pounding down on the ground at the same time. During my cool-down run, I like to run from point to point to cheer on my teammates at different locations along the cross country course.
AS: Favorite Sharples bar?
NB: Potato bar or mac ‘n’ cheese bar. Wait … does dessert count?