PLEASANTVILLE – It wasn’t unusual for members of the Pleasantville boys cross country team to run together five days a week this summer. But one of the captains of Pleasantville, which last year won its first sectional title since 1967 before finishing third at states, missed some of those Rockwood Park runs.
Instead, Eli Waxler was more than 7,000 miles away, running at 8,000 feet above sea level.
The senior spent three weeks in Kenya as part of a service/running program. Through it, he taught English and math to fifth- through eighth-graders in a rudimentary, concrete-block schoolhouse.
After some struggle with altitude acclimation, Waxler and others in his group ran 60 miles per week their last two weeks there.
“It was just great, a better view of the world as a whole,” he said Monday of the experience, which he’s thinking of repeating next year.
The training has made his low-altitude runs back home much easier. That’s good for the Panthers, because coach Tom Patterson is counting on Waxler, Eamon Coburn and Aidan McDermott to help lead them to another Class C title.
“I’m working hard on the guys to not get too confident,” Patterson said, citing Briarcliff, Bronxville and Dobbs Ferry as three tough opponents.
“Our goal is to improve on last year,” Patterson said. “I know there will be a lot of competition and obstacles in the way. The hard part will be keeping everyone healthy.”
For Waxler, anyway, lung capacity should not be an issue.