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Connor Black and Julie-Anne Staehli win Canadian XC Championships

Two new first-time champions were crowned at ACXC Nationals in Ottawa

Julie-Anne Staehli ACXC Photo by: Sean Burges/Mundo Sport Images

On Saturday morning at Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa, two new Canadian XC champions were crowned. Connor Black of Forest, Ont. won his first senior men’s title, ousting defending XC champion John Gay in the final three kilometres of the 10K race. Julie-Anne Staehli continued her string of strong performances, winning the women’s 10K race by 22 seconds.

Connor Black ACXC
Photo: Sean Burges / Mundo Sport Images

Staehli was one of the favourites heading into the race, coming off a 5K personal best of 15:33 the weekend prior, but the distance was unfamiliar territory for the Canadian 5,000m Olympian. “My plan going in was to be patient and not do more work than I need to,” says Staehli. 

Staehli, 28, told us she prepped for this race by chatting with experienced XC runners, 2021 ACXC champion Genevieve Lalonde and former U Sports champion and XC teammate of Staehli’s at Queen’s University Claire Sumner

She executed an ideal race, sitting at the back of the lead group and resisting going with an early surge from Maria Bernard-Galea. Staehli and Canadian 1,500m Olympian Natalia Hawthorn kept Bernard-Galea in sight and ended up passing her on the next lap. Staehli made her move with three kilometres to go on a downhill portion and never looked back, taking the win in 34:12.

Julie-Anne Staehli and Natalia Hawthorn battle at the front of ACXC 2022. Photo: Sean Burges / Mundo Sport Images.

Hawthorn finished 22 seconds behind Staehli for second in 34:34, and Katelyn Ayers of Victoria, B.C., landed on her first ACXC podium for third in 34:48. 

The Vancouver Thunderbirds, led by Hawthorn, finished as the top team with a low score of 47 points.

Women’s 10K XC championship results:

  1. Julie-Anne Staehli (34:12)
  2. Natalia Hawthorn (34:34)
  3. Katelyn Ayers (34:48)
  4. Kate Bazeley (34:57)
  5. Maria Bernard-Galea (35:13)

The men’s race

After a 10th-place finish at the ACXC championships in 2021, Black knew he was capable of more. This year he came in with the confidence he could win and put his London Western team on top of the podium.

Connor Black of Forest, Ont. sprints to his first ACXC senior title. Photo: Sean Burges / Mundo Sport Images

When Black was asked about what’s changed in his training, he said he’s lightened the load and is having more fun with the sport. 

Black, 26, tucked in behind the defending XC champion, Gay, in the first few kilometres. With four kilometres to go, Black made a surge after the hill, separating from the lead group of eight runners. Gay followed Black’s move, but drifted 50 metres back on the final lap. Black held on to earn his first Canadian senior XC title in 29:38.

Gay finished 11 seconds behind Black for second place in 29:49. 2022 U Sports champion Max Turek of Whitby, Ont. continued his sensational cross-country season, finishing third in 30:01.

After the race, Black expressed that he was stoked about the high stakes of this year’s championships, with Team Canada spots on the line for the 2023 World XC Championships in Australia. “I have never been, but the opportunity to represent Team Canada there has been on my mind,” Black says.

Black’s team, London Western, set a men’s ACXC record team score of 20 points to finish as the top team, placing four runners in the top 10. 

Men’s 10K XC championship results:

  1. Connor Black (29:38)
  2. John Gay (29:48)
  3. Max Turek (30:01)
  4. Phil Parrot-Migas (30:05)
  5. Mitch Ubene (30:08)

You can find the full results from the 2022 Canadian XC Championships here

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