But Jimma James' proclivity for competition made it more than just another 8-kilometer jog.
James responded to another runner's challenge on sheer instinct, finding himself fighting off Brian Minear of Iowa Lakes to take victory at the Marshalltown Community College Invitational cross country meet Saturday at MCC.
The Tiger sophomore James, who a day earlier ran unattached and placed 11th out of 82 men at Grand View University's Viking Invitational in Des Moines, clocked in at 27 minutes, 49 seconds to move up from second place to first in the second-ever MCC home meet.
"Today I was just trying to go out and run comfortably but I kind of got competitive in the middle of it and just wanted to win," said James, a Marshalltown High School graduate. "It was important to win at home, you've got to give it all you got, you've got fans out here."
On Friday, James finished in 27:03 at Ewing Park, just missing his personal best time and school record (26:57). A day later, he took 14 seconds off his runner-up time from a year ago while climbing to the top of the 15-participant heap.
"Today was about where he's normally running which is good coming in back-to-back meets," MCC head coach Jarret Heil said of James. "Today was a good workout for him. Our meet's a little smaller so he had more competition to run with last night and then get a good tempo run in today.
"To be able to have the meet champion in our one home meet is a good thing."
"He puts in the time, he runs the extra miles, his long runs he goes longer, and he's willing to do what it takes," Heil added. "What more can you ask for out of a guy when you've got that?"
Marshalltown CC only had four men's and two women's runners in competition, therefore the Tigers did not register in the team standings.
For the MCC men, Nick Huisman came in third in 29:42 with teammate Austin Watts chasing him in fourth (29:54). Allen Davis came in eighth in 31:51.
"I think talent-wise we're better this year having Jimma back leading the way, he's doing a great job like he always does," Heil said. "Nick Huisman's steadily improving ... and Austin is plugging along right there with him. They've gone back and forth this year and that's good competition for them. It's good to have them battle it out.
"And Allen Davis is a great runner but he has a heart condition that doesn't allow him to do what he fully can do. He runs right there with those other guys in workouts but sometimes struggles in races.
"We're steadily getting better and all we need is a fifth guy to cross the finish line at conference and we think we can get the third or fourth spot."
East Marshall graduates Samantha Haunsperger and Chelsea O'Connor represented the MCC women again on Saturday. The two mainstays for the Tigers placed 13th and 15th, respectively, with Haunsperger finishing their 5k course in 26:52 and O'Connor in 29:17.
"They've stuck it out," Heil said. "They were both sprinters at East Marshall. ... Sam has really improved a lot, she ran a lot over the summer and you can just see her efficiency in running is definitely improved because she's put in the time.
"Chelsea's been battling a shin injury, it's been a tough go for her but she's got a great attitude and she always gives it her all."
James seems to go that extra mile, too, and will do so again this weekend. The Tigers are slated for an off week but James plans to run unattached at the Dan Huston Meet next Saturday at Wartburg College in Waverly. Next up for Marshalltown CC is the Waldorf Collegiate Invite on Oct. 15 at Bear Creek Golf Course in Forest City.
James was just one of a handful of former area preps to compete in the Viking Invitational on Friday in Des Moines. BCLUW graduate Jay Welp, a freshman at Morningside College, placed ninth in 26:50, while GMG grad Brandon Clough, a Central College junior, was 20th in 27:28.