My Experience at the Crib
My name is Alexi Pappas, and I’m a Track and Field 2016 Olympic hopeful in the 10,000 meters. I live in Eugene, Oregon, but Mammoth Lakes has become a place I also consider my home. My training trip to Mammoth Lakes this fall was made possible by the Mammoth Lakes Crib, and I hope to come back again soon as I continue to pursue my Olympic goals.
While I had been to Mammoth Lakes before, this fall’s altitude training experience was totally different because of my experience with the Crib. The Crib opened its doors to me, not only providing me an amazing place to live in the Snowcreek Resort, but also giving me the opportunity to live with other elite athletes in the Crib program. My housemates were runners and also athletes from other sports – by the end of my visit, my housemates had all become my good friends.
For an athlete trying to compete at the highest level and make an Olympic team, the place where we rest and recover is just as important as our training environment. The Crib was a welcoming and comfortable space where I could sleep, eat, and also get to know other athletes training with as much dedication as me.
One memory I will cherish from my stay at the Crib was when a group of cyclists came through for the Mammoth Gran Fondo race. Not only was the race champion one of my housemates for the weekend, but also a large group of cyclists hosted a group dinner at the Crib following the race. They invited me to the meal and I was the only long distance runner there. It was an incredible experience sitting and enjoying a meal with athletes who compete at the same level as me, but in a completely different sport. Our conversations ranged from athletic to completely random, and I was able to learn about the cycling world in a way that is unique to dinner conversation. I found myself really appreciating getting to hang out with my counterparts from a different sport, sharing insights with each other over a together-cooked meal.
I also got to know a fellow runner, Koen Naert, who trains countries away from me in Belgium, but whose goals are not unlike mine. We both want to make it to the Olympics – although he runs a few more miles than me, being a marathon specialist. We are both chasing the same dream, and it was so special to share breakfast-table-conversations and rides to practice together. During our overlapping stay at the Crib, we spent our time training hard. Koen became like a teammate to me in our month living in the Crib together, and I know we will be “satellite teammates” forever. One night we hosted the Mammoth Track Club at the Crib for a potluck dinner – Koen and I were both training with Coach Andrew Kastor and his team during our stay – and it was so cool to be able to use the Crib as our gathering place for team bonding.
This is why the Crib is the most unique athletic living space I have experienced, because it gives athletes the ability to train at the highest level together. While living there, I was able to learn more about myself as an athlete through other athletes. Of course, living in an incredible house with cool roommates, an awesome kitchen, laundry downstairs, and huge bedrooms made some parts of training feel easy. But all of that help enabled me to train harder than ever.