In her first-ever competitive 5K road race, Kingston, Ont. high school student Brogan MacDougall turned heads as she placed fifth at the Canadian road championships in Toronto. The 15-year-old who just started grade 11 ran 16:30 (16:29 chip time) in a field of Olympians, a Pan Am Games medallist and senior-level athletes.
“It’s pretty crazy, this was my first real 5K,” says MacDougall. “I decided to stay with the lead women and see if I could hang on. I ran with them through 3.5K until one of the masters men ran by and they broke away.”
Fortunately, race numbers had athletes’ names on the front which, MacDougall adds, resulted in a few extra cheers from the crowd. Her coach, Steve Boyd, ran much of the race with her and helped pace her to a fast fifth place finishing time. Of the women who finished first through fourth, the average age is 30– double MacDougall’s age.
“At Brogan’s age, we think that the most important thing is to put her in races where she will learn the art of racing,” says her mother.
After the race, MacDougall got autographs from the Olympians who were either racing or present. When asked whether she was able to get a selfie, MacDougall laughs “I didn’t even think of that.”
The grade 11 student adds that her favourite athletes are Lanni Marchant, Natasha Wodak and Melissa Bishop.
MacDougall attends Marie-Rivier High School in Kingston and regularly trains with the Queen’s University women’s team. Her status for high school cross-country is unclear as she transferred to Marie-Rivier from Regiopolis-Notre Dame and OFSAA has a specific transfer policy. She continues to run with the team and helps coach from time to time.
Sunday’s race, which was held as part of the B&O Yorkville Run, marked her first competitive race since early July. Prior to that, she ran a 9:29.65 3,000m to win the Ontario high school championships (junior race) in Windsor, Ont. in June. That’s one of the fastest times in Canadian high school history.
In Sunday’s race, it’s believed that she split 9:21 through the first 3K. (The first half of the course is downhill.) The race was also a new experience for MacDougall as it was an open event meaning she was competing alongside men. She remembers that a masters athlete’s acceleration caused the second breakaway where she lost contact with the lead women.
WOW, Brogan MacDougall's age graded score @YorkvilleRun 5k is 94% Higher than ALL the elites. I don't know what else to say.
— Physi-Kult Kingston (@Physi_Kult) September 13, 2016
@brannamacd She's also in grade 11, so that's even more insane
— Branna MacDougall (@brannamacd) September 12, 2016
When asked whether she plays any other sports, MacDougall says that her school is trying to recruit her for the badminton team. For now, she runs six times per week, with much of her mileage previously done with her sister, Branna. Now though, her training buddy has just started her freshman year at Iowa State University.
The sisters are two of Ontario’s fastest rising stars. Though MacDougall says she doesn’t have a clear-cut favourite in terms of track, cross-country or road racing, she adds “I really like the feeling of going fast on the track.” She will be doing some cross-country races across Ontario this fall and eyes a spot on the world cross-country team, with the qualifier being in her hometown on Nov. 26.