(ISN) – For the first time since 2010, the BC High School Cross Country Championships will be contested on Vancouver Island. With the addition of a junior championship this year, the race will feature approximately 900 high school aged athletes competing in both individual and team events. The race will take place on Saturday November 1st, 2014 at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre (1767 Island Highway, Victoria BC) and will feature four races: Junior Girls (10:00am); Junior Boys (10:45am); Senior Girls (11:30am); Senior Boys (12:15pm).
“Often people think that fastest runner will win a cross country race,” suggests race director and Mount Douglas coach Al Niezen, “but the great thing about cross country, and this BC Championships course in particular, is the technical nature of the course. The champions will be those with the best combination of speed, cornering skills, and tactical savvy. The Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre has supported this race and this course design and we are excited to have the best high school runners in the province challenge themselves on it.”
For the past two years, the top three senior boys teams in the province—Dover Bay SS, Oak Bay HS, Reynolds SS—have come from Vancouver Island and this year the island looks to continue its strong showing after Claremont SS has added their name to the mix. Individually, Vancouver Island champion Brendan Hoff (Reynolds SS) and Pre-BCs Fall Invitational runner-up Nic Ascui (Dover Bay SS) continue to lead the Vancouver Island racers, with Nathan Tadesse (North Surrey SS), Isaac Wadhwani (Terry Fox SS), Reid Muller (Pit Meadows SS), and Nick Colyn (Langley Christian SS) being the top-ranked mainland runners. Dover Bay SS is fielding what some consider one of the all-time best senior boys’ teams, having placed their five team runners in the top-8 positions at the recent Vancouver Island Championships. Claremont Secondary also had an incredibly strong second-place result at the Island Championships, placing all five of their runners in the top-21. From the mainland, West Vancouver SS have shown they should also be contenders.
The senior girls competition promises some great performances from the likes of Island champion Desirae Ridenour (Cowichan SS) and Madison Heisterman (Queen Margaret’s School), who placed second at last week’s Vancouver Island Championships. From the mainland, Hannah Bennison (Vernon SS), Nicole Hutchinson (Sentinel SS), Addy Townsend (Dr. Charles Best SS), Grace Thompson (Collingwood SS), and Calli Charlton (Lord Byng SS) are the top runners. Last year’s BC silver medallists in the team category, Oak Bay HS won this year’s senior girls’ Island Championship, and will be facing reigning BC champions West Point Grey and Semiahmoo, last year’s BC junior girls’ champions.
The junior races will be exciting to watch as many of last year’s best juniors have moved up to the senior ranks, paving the way for a new group of athletes to take centre stage. Jack Stanley of Oak Bay HS is a dominant force on the provincial scene and many are picking his Oak Bay HS junior boys team as the one to beat. On the junior girls side, grade eight athlete Maia Watson (St. Michael’s University School)—daughter of five-time national cross country champion Lucy Smith and renowned triathlon coach Lance Watson—took her first cross country title, edging out Bridget Cameron (L’ecole Victor Brodeur) by one second. However, it was Francis Kesley who ran a tight team race to take the junior girls team title and look to be contenders for the provincial championship.
Around 900 athletes are expected to compete over the undulating and challenging cross country course at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre. The BC High School Cross Country Championship occurs Saturday, November 1st, 2014. The junior and senior girls race over a 4.3km course, while the junior boys race over 5.3k and the senior boys will compete over 6.4km. Races begin 10:00am with the junior girls who are followed by the junior boys at 10:45am, the senior girls at 11:30am and the senior boys at 12:15pm. Awards will begin promptly at 1:30pm at Spectrum Community School (957 Burnside Rd W, Victoria BC).
Cross country backgrounder
Cross country is a sport in which athletes run over diverse landscapes with no standardization of courses
and is considered by many as a “pure” sport in which an athlete’s struggle occurs amongst tough
competition, variable weather conditions, arduous terrain and with high levels of pain, all within a
natural setting of the environment. It is therefore best defined as a race on trails or any open space
where the athletes compete against each other and the elements.
The origin of cross country competitions can be traced back to the early to mid 1800’s in England where
a game of “hare and hounds” was played, showing that the first ideas centered on the theme of hunting.
Early courses, configured as point to point races, were often very tough and included obstacles such as
fences, walls and streams. Point to point races eventually gave way to looped courses to ease the
demands on volunteer marshals. Towards the end of the century numerous clubs sprang up and
international competition followed shortly after. The first International Cross Country Championships
was held in Scotland in 1903.
Cross country was a sport of the Olympics from 1916 to 1924 but was weakened when it was eliminated
after 1924. The last Olympic cross country race which took place in Paris, 1924 was held in the afternoon
with sweltering heat over a poorly designed course situated adjacent to an energy plant that emitted
toxic fumes. The results were disastrous with only 15 of the original 38 athletes able to finish while the
remaining 23 were rushed to hospital for treatment of heat exhaustion and other ailments.
The International Cross Country Championships was staged from 1903 until 1973 when the IAAF World
Cross Country Championships became the premier competition for elite athletes. European athletes
dominated the International Cross Country Championships but starting in 1981 African runners started
to completely dominate that IAAF world cross country Championship with the men winning every title
since then and the women winning every title since 2001.
Canada has produced some very respectable results in cross country. The most recent athlete to garner
attention is Cameron Levins of Campbell River who, besides being a highly accomplished track and field
athlete (winning a bronze medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games 10,00m event) finishing 4th in the
NCAA National X-Country Championships (2011) representing Southern Utah. In 2013 Levins finished
41st in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Cross country is often viewed as an individual sport but those more closely aligned with the sport know
of the importance of the team element. Unlike virtually all other sports, the scoring for cross country
running is based on the lowest points total and this is reflected by the finishing places of the top
athletes. For international races, the scores are determined by adding up the placings of the top 4
individuals of a six person team while in the USA most scores are determined by the placing of the top 5
individuals of a seven person team. In Canada scoring is based on either the top 4 or 5 placings of the
top runners. For a team of seven runners the first five count while runners 6 and 7 serve to “displace the
runners ‘ positions of the opposing teams. A perfect 5 runner score of a team would be 1-2-3-4-5 or 15
points while a perfect score for a 4 runner team would be 1-2-3-4 or 10 points.
Current scoring for high school cross country in BC is based on a mix. For the Senior Division a team is
comprised of seven runners with the first five scoring, while for the Junior Division a team is comprised
of 6 runners with the first four scoring.
Because of the wide variation in cross country race courses provided by twisting turns, hills, uneven
terrain and other factors, tactics play an important role. Even pacing from start to finish is rarely
employed by leading competitors. Some teams employ a group running strategy so that runners
encourage other team members while the other approach is to have each individual run his or her own
race. Success largely depends on each athlete’s form and conditioning as well as course distance.
Very little equipment is required for cross country races other than shorts, singlets and shoes. High
school athletes wear singlets of their school colors and emblems, sometimes over top of long sleeved
shirts in cold weather. The most commonly worn shoes are spikes which are lightweight racing shoes
with each shoe having six or seven spikes screwed into the rubber sole. The length of spikes is dictated
by the terrain type and conditions. Athletes would use spikes of 12 mm or more for muddy conditions
while they may use 5 to 7 mm spikes for hard packed courses.
In BC, the pinnacle of cross country is the BC High School Cross Country Championships, normally held in
late October or early November. The athletes who compete in this event form the top echelon of cross
country runners in the Province having qualified through their respective zone championships in the
week prior to Provincials. Approximately 900 athletes normally compete in the Provincial Championship
meet which is organized by a host committee in consultation with the BC Cross Country Commission.
Until 2013 there were only two race divisions in the championship meet: senior boys and senior girls.
Commencing in 2013 a junior division was added for boys and girls to provide more opportunities for
growth and achievement in the younger ages. So in Victoria 2014 the divisions are:
1. Junior girls
2. Junior Boys
3. Senior girls
4. Senior boys
The distances of high school events are typically between 4 kilometers and 7 kilometers. In BC, the girls
divisions run approximately 4 kilometers while boys divisions run approximately 5 (junior boys) or 6 km
Further information can be found on the championship website http://www.bcxc.ca/ci.html