Cole Dinsdale is happy to be able to contribute to the UBC track and field team after a couple years of bad luck. Submitted photo

Quesnel long distance runner back on track and making strides at UBC

Cole Dinsdale is having a strong start to the track season in his third year of university

When Cole Dinsdale started attending the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2016, he had high hopes for making his mark on the track team.

The former Correlieu student had plenty of success in high school, including a record-setting 1,500m steeplechase time at the zone championships in Prince George in 2014.

The 800m and the 1,500m races were also favourites of his, where he would often blow by the competition.

Unfortunately, some hurdles were placed in front of him.

“I’ve had a rough first and second year,” he says. “I had a fractured patella in first year, and then that put me out for the whole cross country and track season, then last year, I was able to do cross country, but at the start of track season, I got a stress fracture in my leg, and that kind of put me out for the rest of the summer.”

Through hard work and a commitment to not get down in the dumps, Dinsdale has resurrected his collegiate track career.

The long distance runner has two first-place finishes in the first two meets of the young season, cracking the 15-minute mark (14:58:55) for the first time in his career at the UBC Open on March 30 and then following that up with a stellar 3,000m steeplechase performance, where he bettered his closest competitor by 80 seconds, at the Western Washington Team Invitational in Bellingham, Washington, on Friday (April 5).

UBC endurance coach Norm Tinkham says the team is pleased with his turn around.

“It’s good to see him return after two years of injury,” he says. “If you looked at him last year, you’d say this is not looking like he’s going to build a good collegiate career, but he really came on last fall just by not getting down on himself and not dwelling on his injuries.”

Tinkham adds Dinsdale would consistently keep up with team cross training on the bike, in the pool or at the gym while also maintaining a commitment to academics.

This season, he has precision focus on the two events in which he has won so far.

The steeplechase comes naturally to him.

“I’m around 6’4”, so that helps a bit with the steeplechase,” he says. “It’s a bit more technical with the steeples and the water pits, so it’s a matter of how you can be efficient over those obstacles through the race.

“There’s a bit more to it than just locking in a pace for the 3K.”

He had never thought of himself as a 5,000m runner, but the team saw something in his cross country performances they thought he could capitalize on.

“Just speaking with the coaches, we decided that maybe I’ve transitioned into more of a long distance runner as opposed to a middle distance.

“So I thought maybe I’ll test out the 5K this year and see how that goes. It was a lot tougher than I expected, but it went well, so I’m looking forward to competing in it a few more times throughout the season.”

The third-year civil engineering student still looks back fondly on his time running through Quesnel.

“I’ve done the Riverwalk a bunch,” says Dinsdale. “But most of my runs were done up in the Red Bluff area. I’d do some loops around Hydraulic Road and Good Road up there, and there’s a trail that leads out to Rich Bar nursery on the side of the highway that I’d run too.

“Also, through high school, if we had practices and we were going out for a run, sometimes we’d go on the Riverwalk and end up going to Sugar Loaf, then a trail that follows the river a bit and links back to the Riverwalk.”

His coach says his recent runs have earned him a coveted place on the travelling team.

“We have a group heading down to California for some large invitational meets in middle of April with a lot of Div One schools, and we’re going to bring him there after his performance on the weekend.

“Prior to this last weekend, he was one of the athletes that was not quite there but we decided that he’s kind of jumped up a step.”

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