In his first week on the Andover Boys Cross Country team, Post-Graduate Chris Ratcliffe ’20 finished the five-kilometer course with a time of 16:50 during his first time trial, placing thirtieth overall of the all-time top 100 times for the Andover course. Hailing from Carlisle, Mass., Ratcliffe has been running since his freshman year of high school, and is continuing his cross country career during his Post-Graduate year at Andover. In addition to his running ability, Ratcliffe brings a great deal of knowledge to the team, according to Captain Alex Fleury ’20.
Fleury said, “Chris is an unbelievable runner…he’s a very knowledgeable runner, both in the Massachusetts area but also on the national level as a whole… I can tell right away that a lot of the younger runners look up to him because he is an experienced runner, and I think that’s really important, especially as they age and progress in their careers. He’s driven to work harder and I think that attitude speaks very well for not only the people in the varsity group but for the JV group and training group as well. His work ethic is infectious among the team.”
For his speed and will to win, Ratcliffe has received the accolade of The Phillipian’s Athlete of the Week.
When and how did you start running?
I started running freshman year of high school. It was something that both my older siblings had started doing, so it was something that I was always interested in. My dad is an athlete agent, and so he represents distance runners, so it was sort of a community that I had always been around.
What made you want to come to Andover for a Post-Graduate year?
I think another year of academic and athletic development. I heard such amazing things about Andover, and I know that it wasn’t a route that was commonly taken, but I knew that I wanted to help better prepare myself for college. Andover offered so many great opportunities, so doing a [Post-Graduate] year was something that I was very excited about.
How has Andover differentiated from your past high school experience?
I think Andover is one of the nicest schools I’ve ever been to. On the athletic side, the team is a little bit different. Everything has an academic focus, which is different from my public high school.
What was preseason like?
I met with the team last Saturday, and we’ve been running almost every day. Last Monday, we went out to Concord, to the battle road, which is a place where I’ve run a couple hundred times, which was really cool. We’ve also been lifting and doing strength things, and we just had a meeting with the full team.
What are your pre-race rituals?
Obviously the night before and a couple nights before, I just try to get a lot of sleep. The night before, I eat pasta or spaghetti with meatballs, but that could change now that I’m living away from home. On the day of the race, I try to get in the zone by listening to music while I’m hanging out on the bus, and then when I get there I start to warm up and get mentally prepared for the competition.
How do you motivate yourself during races?
Cross country is an individual sport but there are definitely some team aspects to it. I think the idea of trying to help the team and support the team definitely gives me motivation. Yes, it’s hard, but I like to compete and try my best, and I know that I would be really disappointed if I didn’t try my best. A few of my tricks are just to focus on the person in front of me, and not think “Wow, this is really hard,” but just to focus on the task at hand. I think a big thing is just knowing that it’ll all be worth it in the end. That feeling and excitement when you cross the finish line is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, so that’s what really motivates me even when it’s hard.