It has become tradition that the Human Race 8K not only kicks off the spring road racing season, but also marks the beginning of the USATF Minnesota Team Circuit. On Sunday afternoon, the results from last year are meaningless. But by 2:00, you're either leading the 2007 Circuit, or you're playing catch up.
The Human Race is again the USATF MN 8K Championship, which means double points in Circuit scoring. But Sunday is important for many other reasons. It's your first opportunity to see who you're running against. Which team picked up a recent college graduate or a ringer that moved from out of state? Who has changed teams from last year? But the biggest question of all: Who's in shape? Training hard through the Minnesota winter requires a level of dedication that few possess. But if you plan to run well at the Human Race, that's exactly what's necessary.
The Run N Fun women will be hoping to defend their Team Circuit titles in the Open and Masters divisions, but should be challenged by GEAR Running Store in each category. GEAR took both titles in 2004 and 2005. The Prairie Striders are a prohibitive favorite to repeat as champions in the Women's Grand Masters division.
Due to the closing of Runners' Edge, the Men's Open category will crown a new champion in 2007. Run N Fun – which has alternated titles with the Edge in recent years – is expected to again show up with a loaded roster. But, word on the street is that many of the Edge boys will be competing for GEAR, in something of a merger of last year's first and fifth place teams.
The Men's Masters division promises to be a dog fight between Run N Fun, the Molar Milers and Lundgren Ford of Eveleth. While Run N Fun has come out on top in recent years, the standings are always close. The Molar Milers will also be looking to spoil the Run N Fun party in the Grand Masters category.
Of course there is always the possibility of a new team arriving to shake things up a bit. It's happened before, and probably will happen again.
The slate is clean. As of Sunday, we're keeping score.