On November 24, 2018, the Canadian Cross Country Championships were held in Kingston Ontario. The day included 8 races: a community race, Masters race, U18 Women, U18 Men, U20 Women, U20 Men, Senior Women, and Senior Men. Once again, for the fourth year running (like my pun?) the Fort Henry course made for drama and real XC racing.
I ran in the Community Race in the morning. I had a terrible race and my legs, two days later, are still exhausted. Conditions were windy and icy and I wish I had the mud later in the day. You can look me up on Strava for more.
My predictions for the Senior Races also went poorly. Although I did have Lalonde and Bruchet on my podium, Gollish and Flanagan (my first place picks) either fell or just didn’t have it on the race. I apologize that my picks may have brought bad luck to Sasha and Ben. Still, they showed up! A plus for Canadian distance running.
After my race, I stayed for the elite races and had a blast, see results and takeaways below.
Here are the top 10 for the Senior Women:
Place Bib No Name Time 1 1767 Genevieve Lalonde 33:47.3 2 1634 Natasha Wodak 34:06.4 3 1624 Claire Sumner 34:16.8 4 1751 Katelyn Ayers 34:29.3 5 2082 Natalia Hawthorn 34:41.9 6 1167 Victoria Coates 34:44.4 7 2027 Tamara Jewett 34:47.8 8 1897 Lindsay Carson 34:56.0 9 1900 Sarah *inglis 35:01.4 10 1896 Lisa Brooking 35:02.1
Other Senior women notables:
12 1609 Branna MacDougall 35:09.9 14 1621 Julie-Anne Staehli 35:25.5 28 1762 Rachel Hannah 36:57.9 40 1348 Leslie Sexton 38:22.7 DNF Sasha Gollish
Top 10 Senior Men:
Place Bib No Name Time 1 2081 Lucas Bruchet 29:54.9 2 1777 Mike Tate 30:07.6 3 1927 Evan Esselink 30:13.9 4 1822 Ehab El-Sandali 30:19.0 5 1893 Rory Linkletter 30:27.2 6 1959 Benjamin Preisner 30:30.7 7 1070 Yves Sikubwabo 30:37.8 8 1883 John Gay 30:38.2 9 1930 Ben Flanagan 30:41.1 10 1066 William Paulson 30:44.3
Other notable Senior men:
14 1083 Angus Rawling 30:54.0 16 1976 Tristan Woodfine 30:56.7 20 1873 Russell Pennock 31:09.0 21 1139 Justin Kent 31:12.8 23 1408 Dylan Wykes 31:22.0 32 1485 Sami Jibril 31:47.5 36 1769 John Mason 31:54.4
*Results courtesy of Speed River timing.
Here are my takeaways:
1. Bruchet is Canada’s Cross Country King
Lucas Bruchet is the best Canadian cross country runner in his generation. Now with three Canadian titles to boot, Bruchet won three golds in the 2018 edition: individual, team and provincial. This race was a convincing victory for Bruchet, as like last year he went hard from the gun and quickly, the pack was whittled down to a group of seven or eight. The only man that went with Bruchet for the long haul was Mike Tate, who kept him honest until about a lap to go. Although it does not make for particularly exciting racing, Bruchet definitely showed he was the class of the field. I would be interested to see what he could do in the Marathon…
2. Brogan MacDougall has a big future
Brogan MacDougall won the U20 Women’s Race. And what a win it was. It was almost as impressive as her undefeated season. Like Bruchet, MacDougall went out hard. Very hard. She stretched the race out so that only a handful could follow. She then continued to ramp it up, and with over a lap and a half to go, she was alone. No one could follow. With her victory in USports and now this one, MacDougall proves that the NCAA is not required to be successful. She is Canada’s talent for the future. I will be interested to see what she can do in Denmark.
3. Canadian XC is more about who isn’t running than who is
Unfortunately, this is true. Here is the list of the missing names in the women’s senior race: Krista Duchene, Lanni Marchant (injured), Rachel Cliff, Kate Van Buskirk, Jessica O’Connell, Gabriella Stafford and Andrea Seccafien. On the Senior Men’s side, those absent were discussed more than those actually in the race: Justyn Knight, Mo Ahmed, Cam Levins, Matt Hughes, Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, and CPT (injured).
Major kudos to Genevieve Lalonde and Natasha Wodak as the only two pre-qualifiers to show up for Nationals. Thanks showing your running talent to Canadians!
4. Teams are almost set for World XC Champs
We now know that Sumner, Wodak, Lalonde, and Ayers have locked their spots (should they want them) for the 2019 World XC Champs in Denmark. Of the automatic qualifiers, Cliff, Seccafien, Van Buskirk (who has said she will decline), and O’Connell will first be offered Canada’s final two spots. Although I hope 6 of those 7 make up the team, both Natalia Hawthorn and Victoria Coates could still make up the team.
On the men’s side, Bruchet (who will accept), Tate, Esselink and El-Sandali have locked up their spots should they want them. Automatic qualifiers Ahmed, Levins, Hughes and Knight will hopefully make up the final spots in order to field the best team possible. I am in firm belief that Ahmed could find himself in the top 10 should he choose to attend. Otherwise gutsy performances from NCAA standouts Rory Linkletter and Ben Preisner will fill out the team. A potentially strong team for Canada here.
5. Kingston and the Fort Henry course deserve a future World XC Championship
After four years of Kingston hosting this great championship, ACXC now moves to Abbotsford for 2019 and 2020. Although Ontario will miss these great races, the Kingston course was seldom able to bring out all of the best competition (as stated earlier). Although I do not think the course is to blame it is time to give the course it’s due process. I believe Athletics Canada should place a bid for a future World Cross Country Championship and, with some modifications and financial support, hold it on this very course. Not only will it bring the top Canadians to the fore, but it will also remind the IAAF of real XC instead of the courses we have seen in the past championships. Time to bring great athletics competition to Canada.