Cunha Intermediate School eighth-graders Lucy Collins and Tatum Mullins will be competing in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championship to be held on Dec. 11 in Paris, Ky.
“I am really looking forward to the Kentucky race, but I am definitely nervous because I’ve never raced with this many girls,” said Collins in an email to the Review. “I think it will be really fun with Tatum (Mullins), my teammate.”
The Coastside Youth Running Club athletes are heading to the race after a successful cross-country season. On Nov. 7 they both competed in Castro Valley, where Mullins took fifth place and Collins took 11th place in the 13- to 14-year-old girls division for the 4,000-meter race. On Nov. 13 in Golden Gate Park, Mullins took second place and Collins took fourth place.
“It's great to be back in it this season since the competitive races had to be put on hold last season due to COVID-19,” said Mullins in an email to the Review. “I kept training with my coach during quarantine, but I wasn't racing and it feels good to be back racing.”
Collins has been running competitively for almost two years and Mullins has been running for three years.
“I have always just really liked running,” said Mullins. “I decided in third grade that I wanted to be the fastest in the school.”
In 2019 Mullins competed in the National Junior Olympic Cross Country championships in Madison, Wis., and came in 69th place out of more than 300 finalists.
“Tatum (Mullins) has a great natural running ability,” said coach Fernando Ramos in an email to the Review. “She has a competitiveness that drives her to want to be the best and to win. Tatum has a great desire to do well, and as much as she complains about practicing, she does every set, every interval and hits every target time. She works hard and puts in the effort needed.”
Collins tried a couple of other sports but didn’t love them and decided to join some friends who were running. She also ran with her mom on Montara Mountain.
“There’s a lot I enjoy about running,” said Collins. “When I improve my times it makes me feel good seeing myself get faster. I also use running to relieve any stress I have.”
Mullins and Collins are in the fifth group of local athletes to represent the Coastside Youth Running Club at the national championship.
“Lucy’s (Collins) biggest strength in regards to running is that she really loves running,” said Ramos. “This, along with her great desire to get better, has contributed to her huge improvement. Lucy is new to racing and a strong competitiveness in her has emerged as the season has unfolded. Her athleticism has materialized. She is physically and mentally strong and she has an amazing work ethic.”
“I am pretty nervous,” said Mullins. “There will be hundreds of runners at the race and it will be pretty cold. While I am nervous, I am also really excited because racing is my passion.”