Each week, The Washington Post will chronicle the race experience of an area cross-country runner. This week, we are featuring two athletes -- Ballou junior Ricardo Iracks and Dunbar senior Ryan De'Camp. The pair were in a thrilling duel on Thursday, with De'Camp controlling the early part of the race before Iracks rallied to win the DCIAA individual title, completing the hilly 3.1-mile course at Fort Dupont Park in 18 minutes 38 seconds; De'Camp finished second in 19:02 and led Dunbar to its first-ever DCIAA team title.
Iracks: "The night before the race I was studying for my finals. I went to sleep around 10 p.m., but then got up around 4 in the morning and began thinking about the race. I was thinking, `Eight hours from now, I could be the happiest man in the world or the saddest man in the world.'
My strategy was if I take out the pace, I wouldn't have to worry about anything.
I was talking to some of my guys before the race, telling our fifth man (senior Iboro Apkan) that this was the last race he probably would ever run. I was telling him he would never have to run anouher thre miles in his life, except for warming up for a sprint race. So I told him he should go for it."
Ryan De'Camp: "I was thinking about running a good pace and helping my team out to win because we had never won a championship -- ever. My teammates knew this was the biggest race, and they knew they had to run hard if they wanted to win."
Iracks: "I did not want to get out very hard at the begining. I wanted to make a hard surge through the one-mile loop. We worked on running hard through the one-mile loop all week at practice.
"I was aiming at 5:25 for the first mile. I wanted to keep a good pace in case it came down to the last 800 [meters]. I knew it was going to hurt."
De'Camp: "My first mile strategy was to pace off Ricardo. But I wanted to have something left for the second half of the course and maintain a good speed."
Iracks: "Right after the one-mile loop, I was thinking Ryan was wearing spikes and he could only go so fast on the concrete. So I wanted to get ahead before we got back on the grass. After the loop, I was thinking phase one was done, now it was time to hang on becasue I was hurting.
De'Camp: "There's a hill called the baby monster, there I wanted to stay after him so I could make my move. But that's when I caught my cramp. It was in my upper body, close to my ribs. After I caught that cramp, I wanted to make sure I could at least see his back and make him my goal to the finish.
"I don't really eat that much before I run, that's my problem."
Iracks: "I figured I had the race won when I got to the bridge [about 800 meters remaining]. I was thinking I did it, all the pressure was now off me. I did it."
De'Camp: "When I went around the vegetable garden (toward the end of the race), I tried to work my hardest but I kept having the cramp, so I decided to ease my pain and slow down. I knew there was nobody behind me and only Ricardo in front."
Iracks: "Before the race I knew Dunbar had a strong top five. So I knew there was nothing we could do beat them. I just told my guys not to let Dunbar finish 3 to 8, let's shuffle it up a little bit.
"I feel that Ryan got the better victory. But I was proud to win."
De'Camp: "My feeling was to stay with him and wait until we get top the final kick.
My concern was with my team. I'm in the race to make my teammates and school proud instead of just winning for myself."