1st Marine Corps Holiday Classic
Dec 28, 2004 at the New York Armory, New York NY

Mike Carpenter tells how it feels to run at the Armory:

"There is no feeling in the world that could compare with the feeling I got standing on the starting line for each race I ran at the Armory. People screaming and cheering, lights flashing, people running out of their minds . . .
the feeling I got was indescribable, but I'll try. "

by Mike Carpenter as told to Don Rich, publisher of PennTrackXC.com

[Editor's Note: Mike Carpenter is a senior at Perkiomen Valley High School in Collegeville, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. In the fall of 2004, he answered PennTrackXC's call for volunteer writers, as a way of expanding the voice and the coverage of PennTrackXC.com. While he has contributed meet summaries along with flash results before meet results are available, he has now added the narrative piece to his repertoire. We thank Mike for his contributions to the site, and to the sport he obviously loves.]

The feeling started with my first trip to the Armory in New York City,
and it just got better each time I went. Each trip that we made, I told
each athlete on my team how lucky they were to be competing on the
fastest track in the world. I'ím not quite sure it means the same to
them as it does to me. From the first time I stepped out on that track,
and every single time after it, the feeling I got was indescribable.
But I'll try.

Although every race for me is extremely important, races at the Armory require a little something extra. I always tell my guys to do 'Whatever It Takes.' My coach, Dean Wright, even had that phrase put on the backs of our team shirts during my junior year. Perkiomen Valley runners are seen in their bright orange shirts displaying those words which mean so much to me. The Armory track offers runners a chance to compete with some of the best competition in the country and prove what they are truly capable of. I always tell the runners on my team that it is disrespectful to give anything less than their best when competing at the Armory.

Perk Valley'ís best Armory showing was at the 2003 Holiday Classic when our girls won the 4x800 and took 2nd in the Championship DMR. On that day, I was especially proud to be a member of Perkiomen Valley High School's Indoor Track team. The girls showed the rest of the team that PV is good enough to compete with the best of the best.

The 2004 Marine Corps Holiday Classic was another huge day for Perk Valley, and all Pennsylvania runners who have ever competed at the Armory. As my boy's 4x200 warmed up in the paddock area, we watched as Simon Gratz showed New York what Pennsylvania was really made of. Their
1:29.3 in their 4x200 prelim race was amazing to watch, but nothing
compared to their US#13 all-time 1:28.25 that they ran in the finals.

While warming up for the SMR, I walked over to the Gratz boys to
congratulate them, but they got it out first, congratulating my team on
a decent 4x200 earlier in the day. I shook their hands and we wished
each other good luck in the up and coming Sprint Medley. How did Simon
Gratz know Perkiomen Valley? I felt like a little kid meeting a famous
person for the first time. But like Coach Wright always says to us when
we talk about Simon Gratz boys or West Catholic girls like they are
gods, ì"Theyí're people too, there is no reason to be afraid of them,
or anyone else for that matter." However, the Gratz boy's put that
statement up for questioning after posting a 3:38.36 SMR and a 3:20.14
4x400. Simon Gratz now has the US #1 times in the 4x200, 4x400 and the
SMR. But they are just people, and awesome people on top of that. I
look forward to competing against them later in the year.

Call me crazy, but I think it might be the greatest honor of my life
to say that I have competed in the NYC Armory. It is the fastest track
in the world and the home of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
There is no feeling in the world that could compare with the feeling I
got standing on the starting line for each race I ran at the Armory.
People screaming and cheering, lights flashing, people running out of
their minds, and I am there to experience it all. What more could a
runner ask for?

I think running at the Armory is perhaps the best experience of my
running career, and I will share all my memories wherever I go. I will
tell people about sitting in the paddock, or standing in a line waiting
to go out on the track, or looking through the glass at that fastest
track in the world, or just what it felt like to run with all my might
at the site of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

For all runners in the future who have the privilege to run at the NYC
Armory, I can only offer you one tip: No matter how many times you step
out onto that track, always remember to give Whatever It Takes.

Marine Corps Holiday Classic index page


is published by
John Dye

Baltimore MD