MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- To a runner, there is something sacred about the mountains. There is no greater challenge, and no better training than into thin air.
For the Stanford cross country teams, the annual two-week retreat into the Sierra Nevada is a time for bonding as much as anything. School has not yet begun, there are no competitions, no homework. All they have to concern themselves with is running. On trails. In the mountains. At 9,000 feet.
Photographer Spencer Allen (SportsImageWire.com) spent a couple of days at the team's training camp to record the mood and the sweat that goes into preparing for the 2013 season. It's a glimpse, rather than a report, but it provides a look at the work that goes into creating world-class athletes.
When the teams emerg back on The Farm, and perhaps when they are waiting for the starting gun at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., they will have this behind them. It will prove to be a foundation for all that comes after.
As for now, they can ask themselves a question:
Is this heaven? No, it's Mammoth Mountain.