Sunday, September 20 2009 - LRDC Cross Country Season Preview
On the heels of their strongest season to date – a summer that saw the London Runner Distance Club send 12 athletes to Canadian Track and Field Championships – the group now has their sites firmly set on the 2009 Fall/Cross Country Season. Club members will compete in a variety of school-based championships, as well as the Canadian 10k road Championships on October 17th. On Sunday November 15th, LRDC athletes will compete in the Ontario Cross Country Championships in Aurora – the largest and only fully-inclusive Cross Country Championships in the province. Since their inception in 2006, the club has won an Ontario XC Team title every year; while they hope to continue this streak for a 4th year, the focus of the event is to be able to have nearly every member of the LRDC community compete and have fun together at this goal race.
From a high-performance perspective, the top club athletes have their hearts set on the 2009 Canadian Cross Country Championships, set for November 28th in Guelph, ON. The group is very excited for what looks to be the first year they will enter full teams in all 4 races at these Championships and are keen to take on the best runners in the country. Athletes compete in Junior (19 & Under) and Senior (Open) age categories. Here’s how the London Runner squads are shaping up so far:
Led by Laura and Leslie Walker – Ontario medalists on countless cross country and relay teams over the past 3 years – this squad has experience on their side. Laura, the younger Walker, boasts a 10:29 3,000m track PB and is rounding into even better fitness while big sister Leslie went on a tear this summer posting 7 consecutive PB’s in June and July and can’t wait to get back into racing mode. Along with Katie Komarnicky (8th place at 2009 OFSAA Junior 3,000m) and rising star Grace Hartman, these 4 all set solid PB’s at the Summer Night 5k road race and will look to a deep group of teammates to fill out the National Championship roster. “I’m super keen to get to work with such great girls this season,” says team leader Leslie Walker. “There’s a lot of potential for us results wise and there’s no doubt it’ll be loads of fun.”
This young squad has shown great maturity in buying into the club’s long-term development focus, and the years of training are starting to really pay off. The squad is led by 2009 Canadian Youth Track and Field Championships competitors Eric Barry, Max Holden, and Aaron Hendrikx – all of whom have at least 2 more years in this age group. Like his sister, Pat Hartman gets the ‘rising star’ nod after demolishing PB’s all summer including a stretch of 8 PB’s in his final 9 track races. These youngsters will be backed by collegians including surprise 800m man Ben Procter (8th at Canadian Junior Championships) and Jeremy Walsh (Canadian Junior 1,500m competitor). With this wealth of National level experience to look up to, youngsters such as David Marquez, Aneel Mawji, Ian Turnbull, and Jochem Roelen will look to earn their place on this and future Canadian Championship squads. Says Marquez, “it will be tough to gain a spot on the team, but we are looking to work hard and show that we belong among the best in Canada, over the next few years.”
While the juniors girls squad continues to improve and build for 2010 and beyond, final year Junior and top returning member of the 2008 squad Katie Anderson will consider stepping up to the Senior ranks as her teammates look to send the first full LRDC Senior Women’s team to Nationals. Fellow collegians Bronwen Douglas and Michelle Nicholson will look towards their Canadian XC Senior debuts. While 2009 World XC Championships competitor Chantelle Wilder hopes to return from a post-track season injury, Windsor Alum Stephaney Fay has stepped up and taken on a leadership role in this group as they look to duplicate the LRDC Senior Men’s success in the coming years. Fay is “excited that the club will have a senior women's XC team because the team is growing and developing. It is also exciting that more girls are interested in competing at that level of XC in the senior category.”
The Senior Mens training group has continued to improve each year, and this fall saw significant additions in the form of new training partners Robert Kitz (UTTC, CIS XC All-Canadian) and Adam Hortian (TOC, World Junior XC Competitor). Post-collegiate athletes Chris Nagle (31:48 10,000m, 39th at 2008 Canadian XC Championships) and Nathan de Witt (former UWO XC Captain, 49th at 2007 Canadian XC Championships) are enjoying the recent additions, which have brought a new dynamic to the training group. "It's been great having another Queen's alum in the group! Frankly, gloating about past victories over the UWO mustangs always seemed awkward and unwanted. But now that there's two of us…” quips the jovial Nagle, as he dreams of the fun he and Kitz will have at future workouts. Add to this group two-time defending Ontario 5,000m Champion Adrian Walton and experienced Canadian XC competitors such as Tim Hain and Ben Perks – both coming off successful outdoor seasons – and the Senior training group has reason to be excited. According to newcomer Kitz, “London's a great city to train in and London Runner's a great club to train with. Steve has been very helpful and completely flexible in dealing with those of us coming to the club from other backgrounds. I'm really impressed by what he has going here, and I'm happy to be a part of it.” TOC athlete Adam Hortian adds: ““The workouts thus far have been effective at focusing on both aerobic and anaerobic systems. I am a big fan of the structure of the workouts and the club has been flexible and accommodating.”
Following the completion of their collegiate seasons, these men will be joined by fellow LRDC members such as UWO stud Kyle O’Neill, who in his first year as a Senior athlete had an outstanding track season claiming top-5 finishes at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in the 5,000m and 3,000m Steeplechase. Fellow collegiate runners such as Matt Suda, Alexey Strokach, and several other collegiate and post-collegiate athletes will look to contribute in what will likely be a dozen Senior Men from the London Runner training group toeing the line at Nationals.
You can follow the 2009 LRDC XC Season online: londonrunner.ca will post weekly/bi-weekly video coverage, race results, and further articles. It’s an exciting time to be a London Runner.