Runners Brave Stormy Conditions at BC Cross Country Championships

Two veteran cross country runners posted victories in the senior men and women’s divisions of the BC Athletics Cross Country Championships held Saturday at Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Park.

The men’s senior 10-k race was won by University of Oregon graduate Chris Winter who ran in a group that included a half dozen other runners during most of the distance.  But over the last two kilometers the North Vancouver native, who has been living and training in Ontario for the past several years, put on a burst that powered him to victory.  Winter covered the five loops of the 2-k course in a time of 32:25 to place in front of World Championship 1500m runner Geoff Martinson (Prince George) who was second 32:43 with the ever-improving Blair Johnston, representing Trinity Western University, third (32:49).

“Running at Clearbrook Park brought back fond memories for me of the time I won the BC High School meet at this same site,” stated Winter after his win.  “It’s an excellent place for cross country running and with just a little more work on areas that have a few too many rocks, it would compare favorably with sites I have run on at such meets as the World Championships,” stated the winner.

Natasha Fraser who last April was the first Canadian finisher at the Vancouver Sun Run won the senior women’s 6-k run.  Fraser, in similar fashion to Winter, ran comfortably through the first 4-k but then put on a spurt that opened up a 180-meter lead.  Fraser won the race in the time of 21:30 with Rachel Cliff of Vancouver Thunderbirds, another BC runner that spent her university days in Eastern Canada (Guelph University), second (22:03).  Fiona Benson (Trinity Western), who two years ago took part in the junior division of the World CC championships, captured the bronze medal (22:51).

Kala Stone of Kamloops, the odds on favorite to win the girl’s race this coming Saturday at the BC High school meet in Prince George, bounced back from a rare defeat at the Okanagan high school meet, to win the junior women’s 5-k race.  Stone ran most of the distance in a group of four that included Valley Royal Alex Siemens, but over the last 1-k she took control and won the competition with a time of 18:25.  Emma Balazs, a talented runner from Prince George, came second (18:40) with Siemens third (18:47). 

Fifteen-year old Callum Pilgrim, who Wednesday won the senior girl’s division of the Fraser Valley High School Championship, produced a winning effort for the host Valley Royals in the Girls 15 race.  Pilgrim stayed close to the leaders through the first part of the 3-k distance but over the last 400-meters she put on a spurt to win the race in 10:28.05.  Second place went to Hershey Harriers Nicole Hutchinson (10:35) with White Rock’s Chelsea Ribeiro third (10:43).

Other races saw Manitoba’s Levi Neufeld (Trinity Western) place first in the Junior Men’s 7-k race (22:45), Jesse Hooton (Hershey Harriers) was first in the Youth boy’s 5-k (16:08) and Miryam Bassett (Oceanside), who is also a serious contender for honors at next week’s provincial high school meet, won the Youth women’s 4-k run (16:20). And after many years of trying, Craig Odermatt won his first provincial title in the Masters race.

Five hundred fifty athletes registered for the various races in a competition that will be held at the same venue again in 2013.

Full results can be found at: http://valleyroyals.org/2012-bc-cross-country-championship-results/

Many of the Junior, Senior and Masters athletes will compete again at the Canadian Cross Country Championships at Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver on November 24, which also includes a Community and High School Challenge race.

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