As runners, you’ve probably heard and/or seen inspirations for racing drawn from cheetahs or lions, drawing on the speed and strength of these well known charismatic mega fauna.
This is not going to be one of those inspirations. As cross country runners, you hardly want to arouse the speed of a cheetah…we all know that insane sprints at the beginning of a race does not bode well for the other 5-7km. You also don’t really want to evoke the lion because…well…you can do better. Lions and cheetahs are what are called ambush hunters…they lie and wait, and wait, and then burst, pounce, and kill with a mighty bite to the neck. Coach would never approve of waiting, and the pounce/kill bite just might get you disqualified.
Who you want to channel for Conferences tomorrow is...can you guess where I’m going ; )…the SPOTTED HYENA! Since Walt Disney didn’t do this magnificent creature any favors, please let me share why racing like a hyena is your best animal strategy.
Hyenas are what are called endurance hunters – they chase. A spotted hyena can lope tirelessly for miles upon miles, can hit top speeds of 60kph, and can pursue prey for several kilometers at close to that top speed (50kph). Most animals are unsuspecting of the hyena’s speed and especially their endurance, falling prey to the hyena’s prowess through sheer exhaustion. Hyenas can hunt alone, even taking down a bull wildebeest, but also can hunt cooperatively in packs and will do so to ‘circumvent the determined defense of herds/families’.
Are you seeing why channeling the spotted hyena will be your greatest advantage tomorrow? Not wasting time with waiting, not putting full energy into one burst, (not using a kill bite…) but rather calling forth endurance, bursts of high speed, determination, the element of surprise, and strength when alone but far greater when as a group.
Coach has told us all to “Be an eagle!” and to “Fear the Gopher”. Tomorrow, be that eagle, strike fear in the other teams as the Gophers you are….and channel your Spotted hyena spirit for the calculated, passionate, grueling and rewarding race you’ve all worked so hard for.
Whooping (the infamous Spotted hyena vocalization) for you from Kenya,