On Dec. 10, high school’s fastest forty boys and forty girls took to the course in the battle royale of cross country races. Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals, held each yeah in Balboa Park in San Diego, California, is a display of true grit and toughness, and the competitors who step onto the line as one of the forty are the best the sport has to offer. These athletes are the future of American distance running, and all eyes were on them on Saturday, eagerly waiting to see who would prevail.

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The top finishers were senior Reed Brown (15:01.8) from Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas and sophomore Claudia Lane (17:04.8) from Malibu High School in Malibu, California. Out of the 257,691 high school boys and 222,516 high school girls who began this cross country season, Brown and Lane are champions.

2016 Foot Locker CC Nationals Champions

That feeling of victory is something Matt Withrow knows all too well. The winner of the 2003 Foot Locker Nationals dropped by Eastbay to tell us a little bit about what makes this race so special.

“The great thing about Foot Locker CCC is that it’s one of the last true national championships,” Matt said. “In no other race are you on the line with just 40 guys. It’s an intimate race where you can really showcase your talent. It’s almost like the All Star Game of cross country in that way.”