The University of Victoria hosted its first cross-country race in 10 years on Saturday in what was a preview for the Nov. 12 national university championships.
Victoria, this year’s host for the U Sports Cross-Country Championships, put on the Vikes Invitational as a test event at Beacon Hill Park. The course features 2K loops and is contested five times by men (10K) and four times by women (8K), the first time in history that the women will be racing that distance at a national university championship.
John Gay (31:11) of the University of British Columbia and Lindsay Carson (28:28) were Saturday’s winners. As UBC competes in the NAIA, a different association than the rest of the universities in Canada, and Carson is a post-collegiate runner, Regina’s Adam Strueby (31:18) and Trinity Western’s Regan Yee (28:32) were the top U Sports finishers. Saskatchewan’s Courtney Hufsmith clocked an identical 28:32 as Yee.
The race attracted many of the top university runners west of Ontario including teams from Regina, Trinity Western, Saskatchewan, UBC and host Victoria. It marked the return of 2016 U Sports cross-country runner-up Declan White, who used the race as a workout.
Interestingly, Carson, who won the women’s 8K, was present the last time Beacon Hill Park hosted a Canadian university cross-country race. In 2007, at the CIS Cross-Country Championships (the CIS is now U Sports), Carson, then a rookie with Guelph, won the national championship over Paula Findlay, who went on to compete for Canada in triathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Then, women raced 5K.