Credit: Armando Tura, http://www.neatpicture.com/

© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

The University of Victoria athletics teams are perennial top-level Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) competitors, especially in middle-distances and cross-country. They are also known to be a tight-knit group and one of the key team members is fifth-year student-athlete Kendra Pomfret.

At the beginning of the 2014 CIS cross country season, Pomfret was named the women’s CIS cross-country student-athlete community service winner. She was also named the 2013 UVic Chancellor’s Cup recipient for athletic excellence and community service. She was named 2013 CIS First Team All-Canadian for track, as a member of the record-breaking 4x800m team.

She is a very active person in the community for example she was part of CBC Television’s Fifth Estate Missing Women’s case, which aired a one-hour special on November 7, 2014 about Emma Fillipoff, who went missing in 2012 without a trace. On the case, Pomfret worked with criminology students, assisting with ethnographic research.

Among other forms of volunteerism as well as holding down a job, Pomfret works with a 10-year-old boy who has severe autism and motor skills. She also volunteers with Recreation Integration Victoria, which is a service that works to provide opportunities in sport for people with disabilities. RIV is funded primarily by area municipalities.

Pomfret is from Roberts Creek, BC, which is situated on the Sunshine Coast half-way between Sechelt and Gibsons. The Sunshine Coast is a 40-minute ferry sailing from Vancouver, BC.

Personal bests:

800m  – 2:07.46 (2013)
1000m – 2:48.76 (2013)
1500m – 4:27.18 (2012)

Christopher Kelsall: Did you play a variety of sports growing up in Roberts Creek?

Kendra Pomfret: Yes, many! My main sport before university was actually soccer. Until grade 12, I had always thought I would end up playing varsity soccer somewhere in the States. I played metro in Vancouver and also at an academy school called TSS (Total Soccer Systems). It actually wasn’t until third year university that I stopped playing competitive intramural soccer; I knew I shouldn’t have been but I couldn’t get away from it! I also played softball (my favourite), volleyball, and basketball for my high school team.

CK: Metro soccer is very competitive! What position(s) did you play?

KP: I mainly played centre midfield, but I had a strong left foot as well, so often I was put on the wing. My head coach, Dave Hargreaves seemed to have a knack for letting me run around as productively as possible. He used to call me “happy feet” because I had a hard time standing still.

CK: When you say that you know you shouldn’t have played soccer as long as you did, was soccer a contributor to your injury?

KP: No ha-ha, but Brent (Fougner, head coach) wasn’t too pleased when he found out I was adding an extra 3-4 hours of running in a week on top of training. I really think that sports like soccer or basketball at a younger age are good for runners because they develop better coordination and improve the musculoskeletal system. Soccer helped me build a lot better ankle support and allowed for different types of speed training – from start and stop, side to side, etc., that I may not have gained from a strict running program at that age.

CK: When did you discover that running was your thing?

KP: I guess towards the end of grade 12 is when I started taking it seriously. I medalled at BC Provincials that year in the 800m, and was offered a few scholarships within Canada and some smaller schools in the States. As much as I loved soccer, I knew that I had a better career ahead in running, talent-wise. I had never been part of a real club, and prior to UVic didn’t train more than three days a week for track. I have always loved running, and began when I was seven or eight, but like I said, I played a variety of sports growing up and I am really glad now that I didn’t specialize in one too early.

CK: Being from the Sunshine Coast, you must have known Kimberley Doerksen; did you compete against each other in high school?

KP: Kimmy! Yes of course. Our friendship goes back at least ten years now. I actually met Kim playing soccer as well. We played together for the Sunshine Coast Scorpions, and both my Mom and her Dad were assistant coaches. We also ran together at Elphinstone Secondary, but believe it or not she was more of the sprinter back then, and I was into “distance!” Kim whooped my butt in the 200m and her focus was 400s, if I remember correctly.

CK: So were you surprised to see her take on the marathon and finish her first serious one in 2:36?

KP: No, I wasn’t surprised to see a 2:36, though I was certainly grinning ear to ear watching the live feed and refreshing my Twitter page constantly. Kim has a sense of stubbornness to her that I have always admired. When she wants something, she does whatever she needs to do in order to achieve it, regardless of how long the process takes. Even living in different cities, whenever we meet up, I always get the sense from her that she’s enjoying the process and the progression of her training. I believe that’s extremely important, and often more valuable than the result itself. I know it will only be a matter of time before we see Kim repping the Red and White across her chest, hopefully at Pan American Games this summer!

CK: It must have been a big relief to come back from injury and run so well in the spring then follow that up with a productive cross country season.

KP: It has been for sure. I’m not the most patient person, so it definitely took a toll on me, but I am happy with how my body responded to the mileage this summer and carrying over into the fall. Unfortunately I had another set-back at CIS, so I didn’t feel I was able to prove quite where my fitness had been, knowing I still had my best race in me. But overall, I think I have gained a lot out of this cross country season and I am hoping it will translate well to the track in 2015.

CK: What happened at CIS?

KP: Plain old bad luck. Leading into CIS, I was feeling almost 100%. Workouts were going great, and I really felt like I still had my best race PomfretNationalCrossahead. When race day hit, the winds were over 100km per hour, and people were falling all over the place. Everyone was in the same boat, facing the same conditions.

I got out well off the gun, but was too tentative to run with the front group and drifted into the chase pack a little further back than I had planned. I tried to make a move before starting the second lap at basically the one point in the course where the wind was on my back, and in the process got legitimately tossed over, along with another few girls, and took a few bad steps into a large hole. When I tried to pick myself up again I felt shooting pain through my right hip joint and into my pelvis that I had injured the previous year. The pain was one thing, but what was more uncomfortable at the time was the deep popping that occurred every time I put weight on my right side. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish.

It was heartbreaking to say the least to not be able to contribute for my team, especially because I had relatively high expectations going in. Thankfully though, the injury was not nearly as bad as I had initially thought after being assessed in Newfoundland. After seeing my sports med and physio back home, we figured out the snapping was surprisingly the less significant issue. This was hard to take in because I couldn’t put weight on my right leg without feeling like it was going to give out, so I didn’t understand how that was not the “significant” issue. But the “snapping hip syndrome” (I wish this was a joke, but it’s actually the diagnosis) turned out to be my IT band moving over the bony prominence (greater trochanter). When I bared weight, it tightened the glute muscles and put extreme tension on my IT band causing the horrendous popping sound. Wynn (Gmitroski) thinks that the initial shooting pain I got when I stepped in the hole (and continued ache through my pelvis) was actually the more significant issue, because the jolt put force on previously thickened fascia in the pelvic region which responded back.

As a result, he said that all the tissue in the region became reactive leading to compression of my right hip joint, which had been over-reactive for a long time, after my appendix ruptured in 2010. Basically really long story short, I got unlucky, and then I got lucky that I wasn’t dealing with another bone/tendon issue, and that I could work on decompressing my hip through manual treatment and rest.

CK: You are demonstrating some range, with your competing in the 4 x 400m sprints, 1000m, 1500m and then doing very well in cross-country. Where would you like to focus for your final CIS indoor and outdoor seasons?

KP: Thank you! My main focus for indoors will be the 1000m. It’s by far my favourite event, and I am constantly wishing it was run outdoors as well. I think, given my increased mileage, and the fact that I haven’t been able to do much intensity over the last year though, I will be looking at running some miles indoors and having a bigger focus on the 1500m outdoors. Two big goals of mine are to help contribute to breaking the CIS 4 x 800m record, and to break the UVic 1000m record. I won bronze in 2013, so ideally would like to move up on the podium as well.

CK: How much mileage volume were you running this summer?

KP: I was running about 50-60 miles per week (80 – 96K) this summer, with my biggest week at 72 (116K). Through the fall I averaged around 60-65.

CK: What did it mean to you to win the 2013 Canada West Student-Athlete of the Year and then the 2014 CIS Student-Athlete of the Year?

KP: I was really flattered to win both awards, especially because I knew how deep the competition was across Canada. Having a balance on and off the track has always been really important to me. You can have all the success in the world, but if you don’t have anyone to share it with, I don’t think it is nearly as meaningful. I have been very fortunate to have a great community of support behind me both in Victoria and on the Sunshine Coast, so I am happy to have been able to give back in whatever way I could. I think a lot of varsity athletes, including myself, struggle with time constraints between training and school work, and often part time jobs. But the old adage of “if you want something done, give it to a busy person,” definitely applies, and it’s neat to be a part of such a hard-working and driven community at UVic.

CK: Why did you end up choosing the University of Victoria?

KP: I was attracted to Victoria as a city for sure. Coming from a hometown with one general store, and a post office, the thought of moving to a huge city never really appealed to me. Victoria was a perfect transition city. Running-wise, I had heard good things about both Brent and Keith Butler as coaches, and was impressed with how tightly knit the team appeared on my recruiting visit. Academically, UVic had a great reputation as well and I was pretty confident that I could succeed in the classroom and on the track.

CK: The Vikes always seem to be a close-knit group. Would you suggest that your teammates and friendships held-together your motivation through your injury last year?

KP: Definitely. Unfortunately running is a sport where injuries are inevitable, and it seems like everyone more or less takes their turn on the bench. I gained a lot more respect for my teammates who had suffered numerous injuries before me once I was injured myself. I am biased of course, but the Vikes are definitely the closest knit team I have seen within the CIS. The emphasis on recovery is just as strong as it is towards intensity, which definitely allowed me to get the treatment and support I needed.

Kendra Pomfret interview:

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