Mother and Daughter Battle at Collegiate Cross-Country Race

Photo Credit: Tavana Mercado, ERAU Sports Marketing
Photo Credit: Tavana Mercado, ERAU Sports Marketing

By: Andrew Dawson
Sept 28, 2018

Dinner-table bragging rights were at stake at the Embry-Riddle Classic in Daytona, Florida on September 15.

For the first time in collegiate history, a mother raced her daughter in collegiate cross country competition. We often see sibling rivalries, but the battle between Embry-Riddle University junior Josie Gray and Daytona State College freshman Kris Gray (Josie's mother), has to be one of the most hotly contested of the collegiate season.

"There hadn't been a mom and daughter competing in college cross country before," Kris told Runner's World over the phone. "I guess a lot of kids don't go to school near their kids and there are age limits for Division I, so someone had to do it."

Kris has competed as a runner since high school, when she clocked a 5:06 mile in Wisconsin. A stint in the Army and 20 years as a firefighter in Daytona kept Kris in shape, and while running this summer with some friends, the idea percolated about joining the inaugural Daytona State team.

Photo Credit: Kris Gray

Initially, they laughed about it. When Kris brought it up with her daughters, Josie and Lea, a sophomore runner at Christian Brothers University in Tennessee, they thought she was just teasing them. Their mom had cheered the two of them on as they competed at Seabreeze High School in Daytona—surely she would never race against her own daughters?

But Daytona State coach Judy Wilson was persistent looking for runners, and she seriously considered Kris and few other older-than-the-average-college-student runners with good times. When the idea started to become a reality, the family perspective changed.

"At first we thought it was a joke," Josie told Runner's World over the phone. "When she really started to get into the idea, we told her it would be cool for her to pursue it. It's crazy but cool at the same time."

That's what brought Kris and Josie to the same starting line on September 15.

"We both agreed that we don't like trash talking," Josie said. "It's bad karma."

Still, the two battled it out. Josie would come out on top with a 21:37, while Kris finished 17 seconds behind. The two shared a brief hug at the end. The brevity of the hug was not because of animosity, but because Kris was feeling a little under the weather.

"I got to like the last 800, and I heard people yelling for her, and I was like, 'Oh man, she's behind me.' I think my mom had a really great race. She did well. I wasn't so happy with my time. I still beat her, but I didn't beat her as much as I wanted to," Josie said, semi-jokingly with a laugh.

This isn't the end for the mother-daughter rivalry. Kris and Josie will meet again on October 12 at Florida State. That won't be the only family competition left this year, though, as Josie will race her sister Lea in November.

"I've been cheering my girls on since high school and trained with them all summer, and it's thanks to them that I was physically ready to jump in and compete with them," Kris said. "My husband was talking with me the other day, saying he thinks my side of the family has a competitive side. I didn't notice it, but he thinks it's a natural way of life."

 

Runner's World article and video: https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a23494852/mother-and-daughter-compete-college-cross-country/?utm_campaign=socialflowFBRW&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media