World XC Champs Decision

As some of you may have seen, today Athletics Canada announced the teams headed to the Panamerican Cross Country Cup in Barranquilla, Colombia on February 21st and to the World’s in Guiyang, China on March 28. If you did you’ll see that my name is missing from the list. Let me explain why.

Ask anyone close to me and they will tell how hard this decision was for me. I take competing for Canada very seriously and I know these opportunities don’t come along very often and that they should not be taken for granted. However, I have some very big goals for this spring and with the world cross-country champs so late in the year (March 28) and with so much travel involved, it would have been challenging to try and do both.

Track season in North America starts far earlier than it does in the rest of the world. This is due to the NCAA season, where many of the best opportunities for fast races are held in early April and May. This year it is very possible that my first Steeplechase could be as soon at April 16 at the Mt SAC relays. That would have only given me less than 3 weeks to recover from a hard 12 km XC race held across the world in China.

Additionally 2015 presents a unique challenge with 2 major championships this summer. The Pan Am Games in Toronto in Mid July and then the World Track and Field Championships in Beijing in late August. To qualify for one or both of these teams will take a lot of hard work and some very specific prep. The steeplechase in Canada is by far the deepest it has ever been in Canada with 4 guys all having run equivalent to the World Champs Standard (8:28). To give myself the best chance at making either of these teams I’ll need to give 100% of my effort and focus.

Cross Country is a fantastic sport which I have always really enjoyed competing at. Some of my best experiences have been travelling to to the World XC Champs both as a junior athlete and 2 years ago to when I travelled to Poland as part of the senior team. I believe that XC is a huge asset for all middle distance runners and that it really helps to build that aerobic strength you need in the Fall which carries over to great performances come the Spring time.

I will be sad to watch the Canadian team head off to worlds in March but I wish them all the very best. We are sending a very solid team that I know will give everything they have on the day and will do Canada proud.

I truly hope that come September I won’t have any regrets about giving up my spot for the team headed to China this March and that I’ll look back and say that it was worth it.

Hope you all understand

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.

 

Let’s Light it Up!

Tomorrow is the Speed River Inferno. While only in its 2nd year for the meet in the newly renovated Alumni Stadium at the University of Guelph, the meet has already established itself as one of the best meets to take place on Canadian soil each year. Looking at the start lists for tomorrow it looks like the meet has been taken to another level this year with numerous Olympians and Olympic Medalists scheduled to compete. With the weather forecast calling for sunny skies and warm temps, tomorrow’s races should have the perfect set up.

This is good news because many Canadians are looking for one final opportunity (#lastchanceforglasgow) to hit a standard for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.  (To see who has already hit a qualifying time check out Athletics Canada’s Commonwealth Games Athlete Tracking List)

While every race features some of the best athletes in Canada (and in some cases the world!) the 4 events with athletes right on the bubble, chasing a standard are:

Men’s 800

In the men’s 800m we have Speed River’s very own Anthony Romaniw looking to punch his ticket to Glasgow. He has run 1:47 this year and needs 1:46.20 to put himself in the selection pool. Anthony is no stranger to pressure, last year he was travelling from race to race in Europe looking to hit a qualifier for the World Championships in Moscow and it wasn’t until the 11th hour, somewhere in Belgium, that he finally hit it. Let’s hope he can find some similar magic tomorrow night!

Men’s 1500

In the men’s 1500m Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, who had a breakthrough race down in LA a few weeks ago, is knocking on the door of B standard (3:37) and Luc Bruchet has been on fire all year long and I’m sure he will be looking to push Chuck all the way to the line.

Women’s Steeplechase

The women’s 3000m Steeplechase has really shaped up nicely with both Jessica Furlan and Chantelle Groenewoud capable of hitting B standards (9:48.00) which, in doing so would also take down the Canadian record! With these two ladies, among a couple of others that have dipped under the 10:00 barrier in the past, this could well be the race of the evening!

Men’s Steeplechase

My personal interests lie in the men’s steeplechase. With Chris Dalhanty unselfishly offering to pace the race at ‘A’ Standard pace (8:26.00) for 2000m and with friends, training partners, and past Olympians Alex Genest and Taylor Milne in the field, along with some other top notch “long-hurdlers” Ryan Brockerville and Mark Draper, things should be set up very nicely for a shot at a fast time. The Guelph Mercury put out a nice article this morning talking about the race.

This season has had a very different feel to it. The last couple of years have been a blur of travel and excitement with PBs seemingly coming every weekend. However, with a couple of hiccups in the Winter I came into the outdoor season well behind where I would like to have been. That said the last couple of months have gone great and I finally feel like I am back to where I was in previous years. I’m healthy and fit and tomorrow should provide the opportunity I need to take a good crack at it.

If you live in Guelph, you are likely well aware of this meet and are likely planning on attending. However, if you are from anywhere outside of Guelph and think you can make the trip, do it! If you can’t make it in person there will be a live feed for the meet here. Show up or tune-in as it’s rare to have a meet of this quality held this close to home. Tomorrow night promises to be special.

For more info about the Speed River Inferno check out the event’s website (here)

List of confirmed Athletes (Here)

Schedule of Events (Here)

 

Photo Courtesy of Rob Massey and the Guelph Mercury
Photo Courtesy of Rob Massey and the Guelph Mercury

 

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time

Where does time go?! 6 weeks ago I was in a major funk. I was struggling to get over my lingering health issues and had finally decided to take a week completely off from training and just relax. I wasn’t confident in my body and each run was a major stressor. I had another cardiologist appointment coming up and a figured I’d just hang tight until I met with him. During that meeting he had me do an Exercise Stress Test and he cleared me to keep training and to head to altitude for a planned training camp. I got back into some easy running for a few days and then headed off to Phoenix fitted with a nifty Cardiac Event Monitor. This little device was going to be my training partner and roommate for the next month. Other than a daily shower I was going to be wearing it full time to ensure than there was nothing funky going on with my heart that they couldn’t catch in short term monitoring. (I thought about wearing this thing while on the plane, but had second thoughts when I imagined what the TSA would do when they saw this “device” strapped to me! Ha!)

So there I was, In Flagstaff, Arizona at 7,000 ft and in pretty awful shape. I knew the next couple of weeks were going to be rough. And they were. Altitude has this amazing ability to make even the best athlete feel like the little fat kid in gym class. Everything is hard. So when you’re not in great shape life sucks. The first workouts were the worst! That said I just tried to keep everything in perspective. I adopted the Oregon Football motto “Win the Day”. I just took each day as it came and tried to get the most out of it as I could. With each workout I saw improvement and by the end of the 3.5 weeks at altitude I could see the light. I felt like a runner again.

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Once back down at sea level I got to say goodbye to my event monitor. That little guy I will not miss. The data from the previous month was analyzed and again I was given the all clear. This was good news. It was time to start thinking about racing!

A couple of quality workouts and there I was, standing on the start line at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Nothing like one of the best meets of the year to use as a “rust buster”! My goal was to just get in the mix and feel it out. And it felt great! I lacked some confidence and my hurdling was awful, but I managed to roll an 8:37 and I felt pretty darn good doing so!

payton jordan 2014
payton jordan 2014 (Photo Cred: Aric Van Halen)

Before this past weekend I had my trepidations about racing. It had been almost 6 months and training had gone off the rails a few times. Now with one under the belt I’m pumped for the next one down in LA in a week’s time.

"Team Canada"getting in a pre-comp workout
“Team Canada”getting in a pre-comp workout

 

Cheers

 

Chris