© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

Canada has an unusually talented crop of junior athletes located in the city of Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island — the island is on the western edge. If you keep travelling left, your next stop is Japan. These athletes need to get to the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario some 4000-plus kilometres in the other direction.

Alexa Dow winning the 2022 BC High School Cross Country Championships. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

The shortest distance between Victoria and Ottawa is approximately 4000 kilometres if you fly. Driving, the shortest route is 4400 kilometres, that is, if you drive stateside most of the way. Driving across Canada, with wintery conditions would be longer. Flying is the only appropriate option for this crop of talented athletes.

Coach and manager Bruce Deacon, who spent plenty of time on provincial and national teams during his athletics career sees an opportunity for the Prairie Inn Harriers junior development team. They can win gold, perhaps double gold at the Canadian Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 25, in Ottawa. The meet takes place in Mooney’s Bay and Terry Fox Athletic Facility.

“We have two amazing teams that could both medal at the boys and girls U18 National XC Champs in Ottawa,” wrote Deacon in an email message to alumni. “It is rare that we have such strong teams from a smaller community like Victoria. We are up against clubs from centers with much bigger populations, and so this is a bit of a David vs. Goliath story. Both our teams are led by athletes who are ranked 1st in Canada (Alexa Dow and Charli Mlotshwa). We have a real shot at medalling, and maybe even taking home gold.”

The junior Harriers are self-funded and supported by traditional fundraising efforts as well as support from time to time by the parent Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club.

Charlie Mlotshwa after winning 2022 BC Club Cross Country Championships in Surrey. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

Deacon is a two-time Olympian and three-time World Athletics Championships competitor. He both manages team travel and coaches the athletes. Deacon’s program is designed to get the most out of the athletes matching their personal aspirations, often assisting athletes to gain entry onto varsity teams in Canada and the US. Sometimes with partial or full scholarship opportunities.

Deacon started a GOFUNDME page where you may contribute at any level.