Canadian Cross Country Championships: Defending Champions to Face Growing Competition

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© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

Updated: Nov. 29, 5:00 pm:

Out are Nathan Wadhwani (apparent hamstring) and Matti Erickson (apparent anemia).

Course preview Nov. 29, 4:00 pm:

The surface is very firm due to cold dry conditions. Four hay bales are located at approximately 1.8K in. Some of the surface is rutted, with a mix of cedar chip, firm gravel, soft grass, and hard-surface grassy stretches including start and finish area. 

Genevieve Lalonde is the prerace favourite for the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships. The 2016 Rio Olympian and national record holder (9:29.82 3,000msc) has proven to be very tough in cross-country. She is the defending champion and training is currently going well.

“This fall has been great so far,” said Lalonde. “Very different than past years just because worlds (Doha) were a few months ago. But I took some downtime and am starting my build again. So cross country will work nicely in there to build some strength on the longer end.”

Lalonde happens to be visiting with family in BC, so the meet is conveniently placed for her fall training program. 

“I look forward to lining up against all the talented distance ladies. Canada has shown a tremendous amount of strength on the distance events the past few years and it has just been so fun to be a part of it.” 

“I’ll be there! I am not super fit or anywhere close, but I love cross country, so I’ll definitely be racing!” Are the words from last year’s second-place finisher Natasha Wodak, a former champion.

She is also a 2016 Rio Olympian and World Athletics (IAAF) world cross country competitor. Wodak continues to own the national 10,000-metre record at 31:41.59 from 2015.

So far, 718 athletes have registered for the 2019 Canadian championships that will be taking place in Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford, BC on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Canada is in a good place with its current level of distance running talent. As Wodak may not be as fit as she was last year, the women’s senior race will likely have an exciting finish.

Sarah Inglis, who is training with the Langley Mustangs Endurance Group in nearby Langley with Mark Bomba may be the pre-race favourite. However, being Scottish, she is not eligible for the national championship title.

Regardless, she has set eight new personal bests in 2019 from 1500m to the half-marathon distance. In June, she dropped her 10,000m best to 32:11.42 and on Nov. 10, she ran the half-marathon in Monterey, CA finishing in fourth position while clocking a 1:12:23. Her road best from April 2019 at the TC10K in Victoria, BC is 32:24.

She should be fully recovered from Monterey by race day.

Inglis at 2016 provincial cross country championships

“I am fairly happy with Monterey as a rolling course and there was a headwind over the final six miles. I am hoping to go quicker in Houston in January,” said Inglis.

Inglis will be interesting to watch, as she can be prone to blasting off the front in cross-country and even on the track. This tactic could spread the field early or test out the fitness of her competition – she has nothing to lose.

“I’m looking forward to nationals and am hoping for not much mud but I see there could be snow next week which should make it fun!“

The Mustangs performed very well at the provincial club championships in Victoria, BC a month ago, taking all podium positions, 1-2-3 in the senior women’s race.

“Our women’s Mustangs Endurance Group team is strong with Lindsay (Carson), Regan (Yee) and Ally (Ginther) all racing, so we have a team goal which I am more excited about than individual.”

The 2017 USport cross country champion Sasha Gollish is in the race and could prove to be tough in the late going. The Toronto athlete always seems to be competitive. Her half-marathon best is slightly faster than Inglis’s at 1:11:52, from Valencia 2018. Her 10K road best is a hair slower at 33:05 from Toronto 2018.

Not to be counted out is Regan Yee with the Langley Mustangs who hasn’t raced much over the longer distances, however, her 1500m – 3,000m speed is solid (4:09.29 – 9:35.49).

Ally Ginther, Maria Bernard-Galea, Chantelle Groenewoud, Lisa Brooking, Lindsay Carson, and Victoria Coates will likely make for an exciting final lap.

Senior men

Bruchet at 2017 provincial cross country championships

Two-time defending men’s champion, Lucas Bruchet, was reticent in his comments about whether he is fit enough to defend his title – but he will go for it – and likely win anyway.

“My fitness is definitely coming around; however, it’s hard to say if I’m in as strong of form as the last two cross-country seasons,” shared the 2016 Rio Olympian. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and trying my best to defend my title.”

One of his main competitors, Justin Kent, is on the injured list. The BC Endurance Project teammates both train under coach Richard Lee. Kent sustained a quad area injury after breaking the three-decades-old GoodLife Fitness Victoria 8K event record in October.

The three-time winner broke the 33-year-old benchmark of Gary Barber’s with his 23:14 performance – a new personal best. He likely would have made the nationals finish very exciting.

Connor Black, the 2018 USport champion will chase hard for the podium. He is a gutsy runner.

There are about a dozen other runners that if in good form, can battle well into the fifth and final 2K lap including Ben Preisner, Thomas Nobbs, Mike Tate, Nick Colyn, John Gay, Tyler Dozzi and Nathan Wadhwani among others.

An interesting battle could take place between Preisner and Tate. They own nearly the same 10,000m personal best time of 29:08.17 and 29:09.26, respectively. Impressively Preisner has also run the half-marathon in the time of 63:08. 

“I’m feeling pretty good going into nationals,” shared Tate. “Workouts having been going pretty well.”

However, he confesses to not really knowing the course well. 

“I’ll have to wait until next Friday to get a feel for it when I do a little preview.”

Kenyan Leonard Chesoo, like Inglis, is not eligible for the national team but is racing and owns a 10K road best of 29:28. Miles2Marathon coach and former national team member Rob Watson has run 29:47 on the roads as a retired athlete. He was a very strong cross-country competitor during his collegiate career.

The pre-race favourite remains Bruchet.

He added, “I will be racing the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot a few days prior, so the quick turnaround could make things tricky.”

Bruchet may be pushed hard for the win. Running fans will just have to wait to find out on the 30th.

All race details are available here>>

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