By Christopher Kelsall
Veteran talent prevailed in the senior ranks of the British Columbia Cross-Country Championships on Saturday at Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Park.
Temperatures were warm at 20 C-plus with no wind and clear skies, perhaps not the weather one would expect for cross-country.
“This isn’t quite right,” shared retired athlete Chris Winter, while basking in the sun. “There should be mud. This is almost a road race with spikes.”
Vancouver’s Luc Bruchet and Natasha Wodak dominated their respective events easily winning the senior men’s and women’s races.
In the men’s race, a pack including Bruchet, Justin Kent, Rob Denault, Jack Williams, Caleb De Jong, John Gay and Theo Hunt ran most of the first lap together. Shortly after cresting a steep hill (repeated with each lap) located at approximately 1.5K, Bruchet gapped the field descending the other side.
“Yeah I wanted to go for it. No sense not using your fitness when you have it,” Bruchet, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, says. “I started fairly hard at the gun and went for it. It was a good run to see where I’m at before [cross-country] nationals in Kingston.”
With a smirk, he added, “I’m letting everyone know I am going after it in Kingston too; I am coming for it.”
Senior men’s champion Luc Bruchet
Throughout the race he looked comfortable while building on his lead. During the early stages of the third lap Denault began to drift – he was running alone – while Kent, who was with Bruchet early on, dropped out due to stomach problems.
Denault finished in 22:43.67, while Bruchet crossed the line in 22:09.12, arms raised, appearing relaxed. The men raced what was listed as 8K.
“Bruchet is at another level of fitness right now,” Denault of the Newmarket Huskies Track Club says. “He was looking very strong out there.” Denault currently trains in Victoria with the Vic City Elite, which works with post-collegiate athletes, University of Victoria Vikes and Athletics Canada’s West Hub.
Asked if he is planning to go to nationals, he wasn’t so sure. “I don’t know, I am going to have to re-think my strategy,” he says with a chuckle and a shake of his head.
Jack Williams finished third over Trinity Western University’s De Jong.
The top-10 was rounded out Gay, Hunt, Declan White, Max Trummer, Joel De Schiffart and Derrick Evans, who were spread out over the final lap.
White and De Schiffart compete for Trinity Western, while Gay and Trummer are UBC Thunderbirds. Williams was representing his Vancouver-area club, Ocean Athletics.
In the women’s 6K, Wodak breezed to a win, after running in a pack with UA Eastside 10K winner Sarah Inglis and 2017 IAAF World Championships qualifier Rachel Cliff early on. The three ran most of the second of three laps together before Wodak dropped the pace.
Senior women’s champion Natasha Wodak
Inglis finished second, Cliff third and Lisa Brooking finished fourth.
Asked if she waited before dropping the pace, to see where she was at fitness-wise, Wodak answered, “Yes, with about a mile left, I decided to go. I am pretty happy with how I felt out there and can’t wait to run nationals in Kingston, Ont.”
Inglis uncharacteristically stayed in the pack. She is well-known for going hard from the gun.
Inglis, who is Scottish, is not likely to compete in her national cross-country championships, in February. Her Canadian counterparts; however, will, as they try to make Team Canada at the end of November in Kingston during the Canadian Cross-Country Championships.
Wodak says she will be racing at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships but has a half-marathon beforehand.
“I hope to make the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships so I will compete in the Monterey Half-Marathon in a couple of weeks.”
Wodak finished in 18:38.04 over the near-6K course. Inglis was eight seconds back at 18:46.33, while Cliff crossed the line in 18:52.90. Brooking had a strong race and an improvement from a tough outing at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half-Marathon on Oct. 8.
“Yeah I am really happy with the improvement, Brooking says. “I feel much better out there.” Brooking is the newest recruit to the B.C. Endurance Project, a high-performance group based in the Vancouver area.
The top-10 included Regan Yee, Lindsay Carson, Natalia Hawthorn, Erica Digby, Lindsay Butterworth and Kirsten Lee. Full results are available at Race Day Timing.