The runners gathered at West Fraser Timber Park Saturday (Oct. 5) for the Quesnel Invitational Cross-Country race could not have asked for a better day to hit the trails.
The crisp fall weather provided ideal temperatures for the long distance run, while the yellows, green and reds of the trees contrasted well with the cornflower blue of the sky to make the surroundings that much more enjoyable to take in.
This was no walk in the park, however, and Quesnel contestants came to win.
Correlieu Secondary School’s Ruby Nicholas did just that, claiming her third straight number one in the Junior Female category. In another dominant display, Nicholas beat her closest competitor by just over three minutes.
Joshua Andres, who raced in the Senior Male category, also had another strong showing, finishing in third place among some strong contenders.
His teammate Christopher Henderson says the course was challenging.
“For the most part, the first part is up and the second part is down, so it’s hard to pace yourself, as you feel like you’re dying by the time you get to the middle of the second lap, but then you start coming down and you realize by the time you hit the flat that maybe you have a little more that you should have spent.”
The Senior Male runner was happy with his fifth-place finish.
“I beat one of the guys that beat me last race, and his legs come up to about here,” Henderson says, pointing at his ribs.
Quesnel head coach Scott Trueman is pleased with how the event went.
“I thought the race went really well,” he says. “We had a lot of racers from Bella Coola right through to Vanderhoof, so it was really well attended.
“We had great spirit from everyone and some good performances.”
Trueman says this year’s course looked a little different from past seasons.
“The past few years, we ran it in the opposite direction,” he says, “and because we had that in our minds, it was hard for those who had previously raced to get it.
“Those who ran it for the first time on Saturday seem to understand it better because they didn’t have a backdrop of something else to compare it to.”
He says the timing was right to experiment.
“Next year, we’re supposed to host the zone championships, and if that’s the case, I figured this was the year — if any — to try a new route,” Trueman says before explaining his reasoning.
“The whole intention was to reverse the course, so that athletes were spread out before they had to enter the trail section, which worked really well.
“Before, when they went across the field, they were immediately into the trails and packed in and they couldn’t pass. Whereas now, when they reversed the direction, it favoured a better spread among the athletes.”
Next up for the local runners is a trip to Dawson Creek for the zone championships. They will have a couple days to rest before training begins for the Oct. 19 contest.
“We have nine from [Quesnel Junior School] and 10 from Correlieu, so 19 in total,” Trueman says, “and then we’ll find out from there who goes to provincials in Abbotsford.”