Two veteran cross country runners posted victories in the senior men and women’s divisions of the BC Athletics Cross Country Championships held Saturday at Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Park.
The men’s senior 10k race was won by University of Oregon graduate Chris Winter, who ran in a group that included a half-dozen other runners during most of the distance. But over the last two kilometres the North Vancouver native, who has been living and training in Ontario for the past several years, put on a burst that powered him to victory.
Winter covered the five loops of the 2k course in a time of 32:25 to place in front of Olympian Geoff Martinson (Prince George) who was second in 32:43, with the ever-improving Blair Johnston, representing Trinity Western University, third (32:49).
“Running at Clearbrook Park brought back fond memories for me of the time I won the B.C. high school meet at this same site,” stated Winter after his win. “It’s an excellent place for cross country running and with just a little more work on areas that have a few too many rocks, it would compare favorably with sites I have run on at such meets as the World Championships.”
The senior women’s 6k run was won by Natasha Fraser, who last May was the first Canadian finisher at the Vancouver Sun Run. Fraser, in similar fashion to Winter, ran comfortably through the first 4k but then put on a spurt that opened up a 180-metre lead. Fraser won the race in the time of 21:30, with Rachel Cliff of Vancouver Thunderbirds, another B.C. runner who spent her university days in Eastern Canada (Guelph University), second (22:03). Fiona Benson (Trinity Western), who two years ago took part in the junior division of the World CC championships, captured the bronze medal (22:51).
Kayla Stone of Kamloops, the odds-on favorite to win the girl’s race this coming Saturday at the B.C. high school meet in Prince George, bounced back from a rare defeat at the Okanagan high school meet, to win the junior women’s 5k race. Stone ran most of the distance in a group of four that included Valley Royal Alex Siemens, but over the last 1k she took control and won the competition with a time of 18:25. Emma Balazs, a talented runner from Prince George, came second (18:40) with Siemens third (18:47).
Fifteen-year-old Callum Pilgrim, who Wednesday won the senior girl’s division of the Fraser Valley High School Championship, produced a winning effort for the host Valley Royals. Pilgrim stayed close to the leaders through the first part of the 3k distance but over the last 400m she put on a spurt to win the race in 10:28.05. Second place went to Hershey Harriers’ Nicole Hutchinson (10:35) with White Rock’s Chelsea Ribeiro third (10:43).
Other races saw Levi Neufeld (Trinity Western) place first in the 18-19 boy’s 6k race (22:45), Jesse Hooton (Hershey Harriers) was first in the youth boy’s 5k (16:08) and Miryam Bassett (Oceanside), who is also a serious contender for honors at next week’s provincial high school meet, won the youth women’s 4k run (16:20).
550 athletes registered for the various races in a competition that will be held at the same venue again in 2013.
In the junior development division of the meet, the Royals’ Olivia McAuley placed second in the nine-year-old girls’ race as she covered the 1.5k distance in 7:17, just one second behind winner Alicia Bremer of New Westminster.
Full results can be found at valleyroyals.org.