This weekend are the Athletics Canada Cross-Country Championships. On Saturday, thousands of cross-country runners will face the muddy conditions at Fort Henry, and compete for a spot on the Canadian world cross-country team. The selected team will race in Denmark this March.
For the senior race predictions, our cross-country expert is Speed Goggles. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Speed Goggles, since 2010 she’s essentially been Canadian running’s version of Gossip Girl. Goggles is a University of Guelph alumna with a passion for prolific running commentary.
Men’s Race (10K)
First: Luc Bruchet
Bruchet is a 2016 Olympian and the 2017 ACXC champion. He had some time off this summer due to an injury, but he’s back in full force for cross-country. Speed Goggles predicts that his strong facial hair game will pull him though to a gold medal finish.
Second: Ben Flanagan
Flanagan has been nearly unstoppable this season. A huge win in the NCAA 10,000m final changed his life. He’s now got a deal with Reebok and their newly-formed track club, which includes Jusytn Knight and coach Chris Fox. Flanagan won the Canadian 5K champs and the Falmouth Road Race earlier this fall. Speed Goggles doesn’t like to reveal her location, but she would call Flanagan a local pick.
Third: Charles Philibert-Thiboutot
Philibert-Thiboutot was third at the 2017 cross-country championship. The 1,500m runner had a long track season, which culminated in a fourth-place finish at the Continental Cup in Ostrava in September.
Speed Goggles wanted to rename this category the “blast from the past” picks. She says, “A few guys who used to be national team members are representing a Saskatchewan cycling club, and emerging from what many thought was running retirement. Kyle Boorsma is leading that charge. I’m not sure how much foot time these guys have had, but they say talent doesn’t go away.”
Another dark hourse Goggles pick is Dylan Wykes. “I’ve been creeping on Strava and it seems like he’s been doing some quality workouts.” Wykes represented Canada at the 2012 Olympics in the marathon.
Womens Race (10K)
First: Natasha Wodak
Wodak was fourth in 2017 and she’s likely looking to improve that result. She might have a bit of an edge coming into this weekend, as she wasn’t able to race the Monterey Bay half-marathon two weeks ago due to the fires in California. Speed Goggles adds, “She’s probably pretty fired up for this race.”
Second: Sasha Gollish
Gollish loves cross-country, but doesn’t love the cold. The Ph.D. student has represented Canada on multiple cross-country teams and knows the Fort Henry course well.
Third: Claire Sumner
Sumner was the 2017 cross-country champion, and was a stand-out on the Queen’s cross-country team. Since completing her undergrad last fall she’s started med school. Sumner loves cross-country, she’s a strong racer and the fort was once her home course. She will certainly be a contender for the podium.
The women’s dark horse category also includes some “blast from the past” picks. Speed Goggles says, “It’s hard to know exactly where these women are at, but I’m sure they’ll give ‘er.” Tamara Jewett was a strong junior runner who’s been killing it in triathlons this fall. When Jewett lines up, she’s always a force on the course. Madeline Yungblut is a former age group record-holder, has represented Canada at world cross-country championships, and helped the University of Guelph to multiple national titles. She hasn’t raced in a while, but she’s one to watch.
Finally, Gen Lalonde will likely be in the mix. She hasn’t raced cross-country since her final year of collegiate racing, but she’s been putting in good workouts and loves a muddy course.