My one month XC season reached an end yesterday at the National Cross-Country championships in Kingston, ON. I ended up 5th in a competitive field and was happy with the result.
It’s been a lot of fun training for this race over the past month. Before it was announced that Ottawa Marathon was putting up $2000 for each of the Senior team titles we (Speed River) were planning on sending a team. Once the money was on the line we started to pay a little more attention to what it would take to win the team title.
I’ve been using these XC workouts to help my ‘speed’ whereas most of my teammates have been using the same sessions as their ‘base’ training. XC training seems to compliment both marathon and 800-5000m training from opposite ends.
It was a short build-up coming off Berlin Marathon September 27th, but it went well and I got in just enough sessions where I thought I could take a run at the individual title.
I haven’t raced national xc since 2010 but I’ve raced a handful of XC races in Europe and Kenya. The races in Europe have all been similar; Africans have taken the pace out hard. I’m usually not even in the top 10 after 2km and I claw my way through the field usually finishing 4th or 5th.
Yesterday I was slow off the line but by 600m I was right up there with the leaders. Throughout the race I pushed the pace a little here and there but I never really made a consistent fast pace. There was a big pack for most of the race until it stretched out in the final 2km. With about 1km to go Chuck P-T threw in a good surge.
Anyways, when Chuck took off with about 1km to go Ross, Lucas, Alex and Winter all responded faster than me. I started to ramp it up and went by Alex and Winter with 800 to go. Alex flew back by me and went all the way up to second, behind Ross. I lost ground to the top 4 and just made sure I wasn’t going to get caught by a pack of 4 guys right on my heels.
According to my GPS I ran my last km in 2:52. Basically, Ross ran a 2:42 and the other 3 guys in front of me were under 2:50. The guys just had too much ‘pop’ in their legs at the end of the race for me to compete with. My only chance was to push the pace to the point where they would have been more fatigued by 9km.
So, why didn’t I push the pace? Well, I wasn’t confident enough to lead it out (even though the calm conditions were conducive to front running). A couple times I pushed the pace for a few seconds and contemplated keeping it going but I never went through with it. Either way it made for a really fun race and good for the spectators too.
Ross, Alex, Chuck, Lucas, and me approaching the finish line.
Speed River ended up winning the senior men’s title, as well as both of the junior titles. It may have looked as though we easily won but Alex and Chris (who had the same singlets as Ross, myself, Taylor, Winslow and, Jeremy) didn’t count for our squad. They are registered with Quebec and BC so can’t count for Speed River (weird rules, don’t ask).
Full squad with the 3 banners.
At the after party someone mentioned this was the strongest field up-front for at least 20 years (20 years was an odd number to say). It was a really strong field yesterday (hence why I’m happy with 5th) but it hasn’t been that long since we’ve had comparable fields.
2004 Top 6 with their SB’s:
Simon Bairu 28:28:69 10,000m (2004 NCAA XC champion)
Paul Morrison 13:26.57 5000m
Reid Coolsaet 13:31:01 5000m
Kevin Sullivan 3:34:43 1500m
Ryan Hayden 3:39:78 1500m
Dylan Wykes 7:58:70 3000m
2015 Top 5 with their SB’s:
Ross Proudfoot 13:29:32 5000m
Alex Genest 8:24:84 3000mS/C
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot 3:34:23 1500m
Lucas Bruchet 13:29:79 5000m
Reid Coolsaet 2:10:28 Marathon
You can see that Ross and Lucas at 13:29 are similar to 2004 Paul and myself at 13:26 and 13:31. Chuck and 2004 Sully are eerily close at 3:34 over 1500m. Alex Genest lines up well with 2004 Hayden/Wykes, 8:24 3000m s/c and 3:39 1500m/7:58 3000m. Bairu was a XC specialist at the time (2 NCAA XC wins in a row), he ran 28:04 on the track 6 months later.
What is crazy with today’s depth is that there were notable absentees; Cam Levins, Mo Ahmed, Justyn Knight and Matt Hughes. From memory there weren’t many big names missing in 2004.
What’s also interesting is if you compare what college system the top 10 runners attended in 2004 and 2015:
Simon Bairu NCAA
Paul Morrison NCAA
Reid Coolsaet CIS
Kevin Sullivan NCAA
Ryan Hayden NCAA
Dylan Wykes NCAA
Nigel Wray NCAA
Marcel Hewamudalige NCAA
Brent Corbitt NCAA
Jeremy Deere CIS
Ross Proudfoot CIS
Alex Genest CIS
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot CIS
Lucas Bruchet NAIA (Canadian school)
Reid Coolsaet CIS
Kevin Tree CIS
Ryan Cassidy CIS
Chris Winter NCAA
Nick Falk CIS
Evan Essalink NCAA
2004 had 1 CIS athlete in the top 9
2015 had 1 NCAA athlete in the top 9
These are just one off examples so you can’t really make any conclusions but I bet there is a trend of better runners staying in Canada over the past 10 years.
We had 7 Speed River athletes in the top 24, 5 of whom counted for Speed River
|1||Ross Proudfoot||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||30:06.9|
|2||Alex Genest||Zénix de la Mauricie||30:09.8|
|3||Charles Philibert-Thiboutot||C. A. Université Laval||30:11.2|
|4||Lucas Bruchet||POINT GREY TRACK & FIELD||30:12.7|
|5||Reid Coolsaet||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||30:16.9|
|6||Kevin Tree||NEWMARKET HUSKIES TRACK C||30:17.8|
|8||Chris Winter||UNATTACHED BRITISH COLUMB||30:18.2|
|9||Nicholas Falk||University of Windsor Ath||30:18.9|
|10||Evan Esselink||DURHAM DRAGONS ATHLETICS||30:26.5|
|11||Emmanuel Boisvert||C. A. Université Laval||30:27.5|
|12||Yves Sikubwabo||C. A. Université Laval||30:41.6|
|13||Taylor Milne||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||30:43.8|
|14||Stéphan St-Martin||Coureur Nordique||30:51.3|
|15||Sami Jibril||NEWMARKET HUSKIES TRACK C||30:53.0|
|16||Jeffrey Archer||PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON||30:53.4|
|17||Pier-Olivier Laflamme||Coureur Nordique||30:54.4|
|18||Mike Tate||UNATTACHED NOVA SCOTIA||30:56.7|
|19||Keenan Viney||UNATTACHED ALBERTA||30:58.5|
|20||Blair Morgan||PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON||31:00.4|
|21||Joel Deschiffart||NANAIMO & DISTRICT TRACK||31:03.4|
|22||Shoayb Bascal||VICTORIA INTERNATIONAL RU||31:09.6|
|23||Robert Winslow||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||31:11.1|
|24||Jeremy Rae||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||31:15.8|