Quesnel’s cross country runners are looking to build upon a strong start to the season when they head to Vanderhoof for the second race of the season this Saturday (Sept. 28).
The team was braving a soggy afternoon and practising hard at West Fraser Timber Park on Wednesday (Sept. 25).
Head coach Scott Trueman was giving them tips on pacing while getting the athletes to push themselves to their limits.
For many of the young runners, cross country is not the only sport the participate in, but they are still very dedicated to putting on the best performance for their team.
Christopher Henderson, 17, has been training in the sport since he was in Grade 5.
“I heard about these giant mud puddles at one of the races,” he says, “and little Grade 5 me thought it would be fun to run through those, and I ended up enjoying the running part more than I thought.”
In his eighth season, the gymnastics and track and field athlete is eager to make his mark in the district standings.
“I really want to give it my all because I was feeling off last year,” says Henderson.
“I had a new distance because I was bumped up to the senior category, so this year, I just want to get back into a good head space and really push myself to go as hard as I can.”
To get himself in proper condition, the Correlieu Secondary School student was cross country skiing in the winter and running and biking in the summer.
He makes sure not to lose the enjoyment of the sport, however.
“It’s a lot of fun because the competition lasts so much longer than anything else I do.
“In gymnastics or track and field, you go up, perform a quick set of skills and you’re done, where this is a like 20 minutes of competition.”
Wyatte Kowaski, who turns 13 in October, is in her first year at Quesnel Junior School.
The young runner is no stranger to cross country, but this is her first year competing against middle school and high school aged athletes.
“It’s a little scary because it’s a mass start and you’re standing in line with Grade 12 boys beside you, so it can be overwhelming.”
She still enjoyed her first race in Prince George last weekend.
“It was short and it was scenic and there were cool little faces [carved into] the trees,” she says. “I think it was a good first race.”
Kowaski has been aiming to place within the top eight in as many of this year’s races as she is able to, so has been training at home as often as possible.
“Assuming it’s nice out, some days after school, I run laps around the big acre field on our property.”
The local race will take place Oct. 5 at West Fraser Timber Park. Come cheer on the athletes to give them an extra boost.