For a moment there was confusion.
Girls from various teams were scattered across the finish line area, searching for teammates to huddle with for warmth while waiting for the team results to roll in.
A steamy cloud rose over the area as they began to be shuttled out of the gated finish, and onwards into the chaos of family and friends with cameras for photos, and jackets and umbrellas for the cold and consistent downpour that just seemed so iconic Pacific Northwest that you almost had to appreciate the irony.
And there was mud too.
So much mud in fact that it's unlikely that my Adidas Marathon 10s with the orange laces and teal stripes will find their way into my luggage for my flight back to Colorado, because they are very, very muddy.
Editor's Note: They're also about nine years old...
The seven Niwot girls quietly followed the herd out, though knew to some degree that they'd be shuttled back in, once the results were official.
Mud caked up and down their legs and soaked their spikes in brown hues, like their once-creamy white singlets.
And then the moment came.
Not a "you finished X," it was a "you're in the top three."
The invite back into the area solidified Niwot's place among the best squads in the country, as it was the second time they've tallied a top-10 finish at NXN, out-doing last year's big fifth-place finish.
This time they got to step up onto the podium.
The seven popped on their toes and jumped up and down, even though the race was more than over. This time it was out of sheer excitement - because they knew that regardless of where they finished, it was better than last year.
And, for the second consecutive year, the Niwot girls nabbed an At-Large berth after finishing third at NXR-Southwest, only to go on to Nationals and prove they belong there by finishing even better.
When the results for the Top-three squads rolled out Niwot officially had their third place finish. They tallied 171 points, just 11 behind runner-up Summit (OR), while Saratoga Springs (NY) dominated the team race with 78 points.
And Niwot wasn't the only Colorado squad to crack the top 10.
The Dark Horse of NXN - Valor Christian - capped their season by proving NXR-Southwest was no fluke, they're legit. Valor finished eighth among a field of 22, tallying 242 points.
It was another banner day in Portland for Colorado, as three squads cracked the top-10, and five individuals claimed All-American honors.