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February 25, 2017

Why I love Heps: Former Ivy League athletes share stories

The 2017 indoor Heps is underway and we put out a call for some Heps memories since Ivy League runners tend to look forward to their conference championship more than some others.

Here are a few of the responses that we received. If you want to feature your Heps memories, feel free to send an email to [email protected] and we will update the article as we receive more submissions.

Paige Kouba, Harvard

Above is a photo from the mile finals at Indoor Heps 2015. That’s me on the left, looking like I just found a three-month-old beef stroganoff at the back of the fridge; and that’s my teammate Molly Renfer on the right, doing her best brontosaurus impression. We took fourth and third, respectively, and it was the first time I’d scored in an individual event at Heps. The feeling I had in that moment, knowing I would finally put those points on the board—it was as beautiful as this photo is ugly. Here’s to lots of race faces this weekend. The only thing better than the grimace you wear as you cross the line is the uncontrollable grin you get when you’re lifting the trophy.
Go Crimson.

Meg Looney, Harvard

A Heps Haiku:

Nerves and spray-paint signs

Leave your heart on the oval
For your team, not you
heps why i love it
I love insisting to non-track plebeians that track and field is a team sport. In some ways, I explain, it is the ultimate team sport because you can’t win a track meet with just one or two all-star athletes. Instead, everyone on the team has to show up and not only race well, but also commit to cheering until their voices are completely gone. After competing in eight Heps Championship meets while at Harvard, and attending many more since I graduated in 2012, I am still astounded and thrilled by the palpable energy that radiates the track stadium each time Heps rolls around. Without fail, by Day 2 of Heps the stadium is legitimately buzzing. As an athlete, I could tune out individual voices prior to and during my race, but it was impossible to ignore the buzzing. As a spectator, I feel as though my cheers directly affect the outcome of the races. Cheers become screams, and clapping turns to jumping and hugging. This competition is clearly about more than just the individual. Heps is just different. Anything can happen.

Brian Paison, Harvard

I loved competing at Heps because I felt like a participant in a full-on, Lord of the Rings, Helm’s Deep-style battle. Banding together with my team, converging on one arena to forge a new chapter in an eight-team rivalry, the history of which has unfolded over decades with a Tolkienesque intricacy.

Plus, each Ivy lines up surprisingly well with a respective Middle Earth people. Harvard is Man (normal), Brown is Hobbits (all tiny for some reason), Columbia is the Elves (hairless, love Christmas), Cornell is the Dwarves (no one talks to them), Princeton is Lord Sauron (dicks), and Barry Harwick is Radagast.
And don’t forget the Smaugs (UPenn). Is there just one Smaug? How many Smaugs are there?
Look, I’ve pushed this analogy further than I intended. I’ve only seen the movies and read The Hobbit once.
Yale is Hufflepuff.

Kyle Merber, Columbia

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