Catching Up

The last time we chatted I was in Guelph, Ontario preparing for the Speed River Inferno with hopes of hitting a last chance, at the buzzer shot, standard to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. It was the absolute last day anyone could hit a qualifying standard and I needed to run under 8:32 to put myself in the pool of athletes eligible for the Commonwealth Games. Until that day my season’s best was 8:36. I had some work to do. Chris Dalhunty stepped up big time and offered to pace us at 8:25 pace. This was exactly what we needed if we were to have any hope of getting under the standard that night in Guelph.

The steeplechase was the last event of the evening and all night others had been hitting fast times. I knew this was as good an opportunity as any. We had a rabbit, the weather was perfect and the crowd was big and loud. From the gun it was fast and Taylor Milne and I hung onto Chris Dalhunty. Pretty quickly I realized It was not going to be one of those races where is would come easy. It was going to be a grind. I hung onto the back of Taylor for as long as possible and even when the gap opened up I tried to stay positive. The night before the race I visualized what I would need to see on the clock with 2 laps to go to have a chance at the standard. The number I came up with was 6:18 (or faster). I hit 6:18 bang on! I knew I had a hope but I had to get moving. Unfortunately the next lap was slow and I hit the bell at 7:27. I needed a 65 sec lap or faster. The fastest of that race. I also knew that Alex Genest had found his legs and was closing hard on me. I put my head down and hammered. I knew it would be close, so close that I even pulled out the middle school chest lean at the line. 8:31.25! I had just squeaked it! Double Fist Pump!

Speed River Inferno

I had to sit tight for a few days before they named the official team. There was rumors circulating that Athletics Canada may take those with a “B” standard but until I saw my name on the official document I wasn’t going to breathe easy. I must have refreshed the page on Athletics Canada 100,000 times. Finally it was posted and I was named to the team.

This was surreal. Coming into the season making the team was my #1 goal. But there were times it seemed far out of sight. 9 weeks prior I had just arrived in Flagstaff and was barely running. I was getting crushed in workouts. I have to give so much credit to the team I have around me. I leaned on these people hard. Everyone including my Coach, Teammates, Physio, Massage Therapist, Psychologist, Physiologist, family and especially Rachel were all there for me providing me the assistance/confidence I needed to get me back rolling. Thanks you all!

Onwards to Glasgow

With the Games still 6+ weeks ago there is still lots of time for improvement. This is great because I feel more ready to go at this time in the season than ever before. Having missed all of indoors and only having raced a handful of times so far this year I feel fresh and excited for the opportunities ahead, starting with nationals next weekend!

The 2014 Canadian Championships take place in Moncton, New Brunswick, June 27-29. Check out www.moncton2014.ca for all the details and info for live streaming. Should be good times!

 

Cheers

 

Chris

 

 

 

 

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Taylor Milne gets his redemption at Inferno

GUELPH – Taylor Milne got his redemption on the Alumni Stadium track Saturday night.

“It felt a lot better than last year and I still think there’s a lot left in the tank,” he said after winner the New Balance men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase, the featured and final event of the Speed River Inferno Track and Field Meet Presented by New Balance.

A year after falling hard at the water jump on the final lap of the steeplechase, Milne withstood a couple of stumbles for this year’s victory.

“It wasn’t that much better,” Milne said of his jumps at the water jump. “I didn’t do a great one on the last one, but I was like I didn’t care if I stopped completely, if I landed on my feet I was going to have a good time. I kind of two-footed it, stopped my momentum, gave a little Hallelujah and then finished pretty well.”

Milne led a sweep of the top three positions by The River, the meet hosts, as he finished in eight minutes, 27.81 seconds while Chris Winter was second at 8:31.25 and Olympian Alex Genest third at 8:34.71.

If not for the stumbles, Milne might have achieved the Commonwealth Games A standard qualifying mark. He had already bettered the B mark and improved on that time by about three and a half seconds, but missed the A standard by 1.81 seconds.

Runner-up Winter threw put his name in contention for a spot on Canada’s Commonwealth Games team with his time which was three-quarters of a second faster than the B standard.

“That was harder than I expected,” he said minutes after the race. “That’s sometimes the case. Coming through with three laps to go, I could feel the line between me and Taylor and the guys breaking a little bit, but I just said ‘Keep going, keep going. You’ve got to run this thing to the end to find out.’ Even with three laps to go, I was hurting pretty bad and I knew I had a good pain face on.”

The Canadian track and field team for the Commonwealth Games is expected to be named this week.

“I’m in the pool now for Commonwealth Games which is an amazing goal for me this year,” he said. “I went through a lot in the winter and just being healthy and fit and being able to toe the line here today and give my best was amazing. To be able to get that time is awesome.”

Winter had a health scare in the winter which resulted in him being hospitalized in Vancouver. It turned out that his heart would skip a beat every now and then and he’s been learning how to deal with that and still compete at a high level.

For third-place finisher Genest, just making it to the end of the race was a bit of victory in a trying season.

“I finished, which is better than any other race this season,” he said. “Not enough, but what can I do. I’m going to have to refocus for the summer.”

Genest had been plagued with injury problems earlier in the year, forcing him to pull out of every other race he started. Finishing the Inferno was also a bit of redemption for him as he retired from last year’s steeplechase after the second lap and only one trip through the water jump.

“I have mixed feeling right now,” he said after the race. “I thought if I came away with an 8:35, I’d be happy, but now I’m not happy because it was so close.”

Genest fell too far behind during the middle stages of the race to recover. He was as low as sixth in the field of 15.

Jessica Furlan of Victoria set a national record in the women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase run immediately before the men’s steeplechase.

“To be honest, I was going more for the standard time and the national record would come with it,” Furlan said.

She lowered the Canadian record to 9:48.89, chopping 2.21 seconds off the previous mark set by Carol Henry in a meet at Baton Rouge, La., almost exactly 12 years ago. However, Furlan failed to meet the Commonwealth Games B standard by less than a second. That standard was 9:48.00.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “It’s exciting to get the national record, but I kind of knew somebody was going to hit it this year. I’m glad to be the first one to get it, but I think it’s going to be knocked down quite a bit by myself and a couple of other girls this season.”

One of those ‘other girls’ might be Genevieve Lalonde of The River, the national record holder in the women’s 2,000-metre steeplechase. She finished second at the Inferno in 9:53.96.

While Milne drew inspiration from that race, he was also motivated by the performance of his girlfriend Rachel Aubry who was less than a second off setting a personal best in winning a close women’s 800 metres.

The top three in that race were separated by just over a third of a second. Aubry won in 2:02.60 while fellow Canadian Kate Van Buskirk was second in 2:02.62 and Lauren Hagans of the U.S. was third in 2:02.97.

Other winners in the main meet were Patricia Sylvester of Grenada in women’s long jump, Winston George of Guyana in men’s 200m, Jordin Andrade of the U.S. in men’s 400-metre hurdles, Riley Northrup of the U.S. in men’s high jump, Ryan Martin of the U.S. in men’s 800m, Brendan Gregg of the U.S. in men’s 5,000 metres and Canadians Noelle Montcalm in women’s 400m hurdles, Cha Philibert-Thiboutot in men’s 1,500m, Ian Reid in masters men’s 1,500m, Nicole Sassine in women’s 200m and Rachel Hannah in women’s 5,000m.

Winners in the pre-meet were Marissa Kurtimah of Guelph in women’s 200m, Leonae Nichol in men’s 200m, Madeleine Kelly in women’s 800m, Ethan Davenport in men’s 800m, Rebecca Pieterson in women’s 1,500m and Connor Darlington in men’s 1,500m.