Gen Lalonde is one of the most consistent Team Canada members that our country’s got. The runner has represented Canada so many times she can only ball park the figure (she’s sure it’s over 20), and holds the Canadian 3,000m steeplechase record. Her 2019 running year was nothing short of stellar. She broke her own national steeplechase record, made the World Championship final and was one of Canada’s highest-ever World Cross finishers (20th at the Denmark race).
Hometown: Moncton, NB
Represented Canada: over 20 times
2016 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase finallist
Lalonde won her second-consecutive national cross-country title in late November, securing her spot on the Pan Am Cross-Country Cup squad. The runner is a new resident to Victoria, B.C. where the championship is being held and a long-time cross-country lover–so accepting her spot was a given. Lalonde’s currently working with Joël Bourgeois and Hilary Stellingwerff as her two coaches. Bourgeois was Lalonde’s primary coach in high school and has remained informed on her training since that time, and Stellingwerff is a long time teammate and friend who’s also based in Victoria. The pair represented Canada at the 2016 Olympics.
Lalonde explains that cross-country was her gateway into running, like it is for so many people. “My brother ran it first and I told my Dad that I wanted to join him. He kept coming home with all of these trophies and I guess I wanted one too. I started running cross-country locally and it’s been part of my base training ever since. I consider it my fun running.”
Lalonde was seven when she ran her first race but it didn’t go to plan. She says, “I walked the course with my Dad beforehand and he pointed out this big hole in the ground in the first 100m. He specifically told me to avoid this hole. I ran right into the hole and went down hard. But that’s cross-country–it’s all about your ability to handle adverse conditions.” What draws Lalonde to cross-country is the rough-around-the-edges attitude that this brand of running has. “It’s always a different course, you never know the exact length, and it groups all of these different kinds of runners into one event. In Denmark at the World Championships we were running through a beer tent, over a museum and jumping hay bales. It was awesome.”
After high school the runner decided to attend the University of Guelph because it had such a strong cross-country team mentality. “I took a couple years off from running cross in the fall because it didn’t fit with my schedule at the time, but when I came back in 2018 it was really refreshing. The team aspect has always been so important to me and our team had such a good time at Worlds [Denmark, 2019]. Track is such an individual sport, so having a team during the cross-country season is important.”
The Denmark World Championships ended up being one of Lalonde’s most memorable running experiences. She explains that the course was extremely hard but also ideal for her, “The Denmark course simulated cyclo-cross courses. When we first saw the course everyone was freaking out but I was so pumped. Hills, water and jumping over stuff is my wheel house.”
The Pan Am cup will be Lalonde’s first big competition of 2020 and then she’ll get into her track season. Her plan is to head to Flagstaff, AZ and then come down and open her season with a 5,000m in California. “I’ll head up to Flagstaff and do a month of altitude training there. I’m probably going to open my season with a 5,000m, which is something I haven’t run in a decade. I’m just using it as a rust buster, so I’m not trying to break any records or anything. I’ll run that at Payton Jordan.” After her opener she’ll get into some steeple races and get ready for the June Olympic Trials.