The Bruins cross country team took a trip to Tahoe National Forest last week, July 14-20, where they spent six days preparing for their upcoming season at roughly 7,000 feet elevation in the California mountains.

The 18-athlete team attended the 48th annual CTM High Altitude Running Camp & Clinic for the eighth year in a row.

According to Bruins coach Terry Axel, taking the cross country team to the high altitude camp has been a longstanding annual tradition since he himself attended high school at Brookings-Harbor and ran for the Bruins cross country team.

“I was the first athlete in my group who had to do hill charges for being late. My old coach loves to tell everyone about that whenever we come here.” Axel said. “It’s always a lot of fun and we get to tell stories from years ago.”

The team stayed at Glucose Ridge Campground, located around 20 miles off the highway between Grass Valley and Tahoe, California. Camp activities consisted mainly of morning and afternoon runs and eventually progressed to team relays and other varied workouts likes swimming.

The Bruins athletes intermittently attended presentations and meetings with professional runners and athletes to talk about good workouts and nutrition. This included presentations by Jim Hunt, a renowned former coach at Humboldt State who has also coached at U.C. Davis and the U.S. Olympics team

Axel said the coaches gave the team a few days to adjust before getting into the harder workouts, with most team members avoiding hangups like elevation sickness.

“The first day, you could feel it just walking around doing things,” Axel said. “So we gave the kids time to get used to it and the heat of the valley.”

Axel says that training at high altitude doesn’t offer many advantages at the high school level, but the experience is great for team bonding and helping athletes decide how committed they are to cross country running.

“This is where most of our kids end up locked in to the sport or end up rethinking it,” Axel said.

Other nearby cross country camps often charge $700 per athlete, but for the CTM camp comes out being far more affordable at roughly $150 a kid.

Axel said he came out of the camp feeling good about this year’s team and confident they’ll find a solid spot in the new league now that the Bruins will be changing divisions.

“I’m excited because we’ve got a young team and you can just see the light go on in their heads during camp,” Axel said. “They go ‘Oh, we really have a chance to be something special this year.’”

The Bruins cross country season starts Aug. 13, with most of the runners getting back into their regular workouts in the weeks after the camp.