Lizzy Laurie and Sydney Pattison are two Laurier runners who flew under the radar this year. They consistently knocked off strong results, but never hit the top three in the U Sports rankings–until last weekend.
Pattison came into the meet ranked sixth in the 1,500m with a 4:27 seasons best, but ran an indoor personal best at U Sports to land herself third behind Western’s Kate Current and Toronto’s Lucia Stafford. In the 3,000m, Laurie had a similar story, entering the meet ranked eighth and finding herself in second position after the final.
The women become Laurier’s first-ever indoor track national medallists (their last national medals date back over 20 years, to when the CIAU held an outdoor championship). Pattison’s very happy with her weekend and her progress, but describes limited facilities for their team. She jokes, “We’re not even allowed to call it a track team, because we only have a couple sprinters or no competitors in the field events. We’re called the Laurier Middle Distance or something.” She continues, “One of the officials asked me what Laurier is.”
But Pattison doesn’t blame the track officials for not knowing about the Golden Hawks. Their team is small and trains off-campus at a local recreation centre during open hours. Pattison says they find themselves yelling, ‘track’ a lot, “But people don’t actually know what it means, so we just run around them.”
A season of dodging runners has paid off for both women, who ran personal bests to podium in Edmonton. While Laurie and Pattison will graduate this fall, they plan to continue running. Pattison has just accepted an offer to attend the University of Windsor for teacher’s college. She won’t be able to compete in U Sports next year due to transfer rules, but she plans to run during her second year there. “I’m really looking forward to the outdoor season. I want to focus on the 800m, because I kept running 800m personal bests within 1,000m races.”
The runner credits her huge bump in race performance to her increased confidence. “I think I’m a lot more comfortable on the track now. I used to feel like the best girls in the league were too fast for me, but I don’t feel like that any more. Now I know I can run with any of them.”
Pattison and Laurie have been training together for four years. They do almost all of their track work together, except for the past few weeks as Laurie was in the process of training for the FISU cross-country championships, which were set to take place on March 7 but were cancelled due to coronavirus. The U Sports Championships were a last-minute decision for Laurie. She says everything happened very quickly: “They sent the email February 28 that FISU was postponed and we were supposed to be leaving March 3. It was also difficult because my training had been really focused on the 10K, not the 3,000m [the longest U Sports event].”
Laurie explains that another issue was the U Sports entry deadline, which had already passed. Thankfully, Laurie and the other FISU athletes were exempted and admitted at the last minute. “Once I learned that FISU has been postponed, it was an easy decision to run U Sports. I was not going to sit at home and mope about it–I wanted to channel my frustration into this race. I was super happy with the outcome of my 3,000m because it was a 10-second personal best, coupled with a silver medal.”
Both women will take some time off before beginning their summer training. While they won’t be training partners any longer, they both feel that their running careers, and Laurier’s track program, are just getting started.