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Victoria group to bid for 2020 Pan Am XC Cup & Festival, 2023 Worlds

Victoria and Vancouver are vying for the chance to host the event, which could lead to hosting the 2023 World Cross Country Championships

Victoria, B.C. could be the site of the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup and Festival. A group calling itself the Victoria International Cross-Country Association (VICCA) is preparing a bid to host the event at the Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club in Victoria, as a stepping stone towards a bid to host the 2023 World Cross-Country Championships at the same location.

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It will be Canada’s turn to host in 2020, and so far the only other bid is from Vancouver. According to the Athletics Canada website, the event is for athletes of all ages and abilities, and will include the U20 and senior championships with more than 250 elite athletes attending.

The bid is headed by Christopher Kelsall, managing editor of Athletics Illustrated and Victoria Sports News. Also involved are Bob Reid, treasurer of the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club, Cathy Noel, race organizer of the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, Bruce Deacon, two-time Olympian in the marathon. The committee is being assisted by Keith Wells, Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission. 


The 2K course, designed by Kelsall and Deacon, along with certified course measurer Gary Duncan, is situated on Bear Mountain’s Valley Course and includes a 200m hill that ascends 30 metres, while being both spectacularly scenic and very spectator-friendly. The 5-star hotel attached to the property will serve as the athletes’ village.

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Justyn Knight
Justyn Knight at the 2017 Western Cross Country Invitational. Photo: Justyn Knight/Instagram.

“Athletes will love the course,” says Kelsall. “There are long, gently rolling grassy stretches of fringe and rough. It’s a racer’s course. Strength runners will enjoy the climb to the finish as they pick off competitors.”

The Pan Am Cross Country Cup and Festival was first launched in 2015, when it was hosted by Colombia, and Canada’s Rachel Hannah won bronze in the senior women’s race, Justyn Knight won gold in the junior men’s, Hannah Marian Woodhouse won silver in the junior women’s and Branna MacDougall won bronze in the junior women’s. The following year it was held in Venezuela, and Canada’s Sasha Gollish won silver in the senior women’s, Branna MacDougall won gold in the junior women’s and Madeleine Ghazarian won silver in the junior women’s. 

Western Cross-Country Invitational
Branna MacDougall at the 2017 Western Cross Country Invitational. Photo: Canadian Running

The World Cross Country Championships, which takes place every other year, has only taken place in North America twice: the 1984 event in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the 1992 event in Boston.

The successful bidder will receive a $25,000 hosting grant, 40 per cent of all entry fees, and 50 per cent of local sponsorship.

The deadline for the bid submission is Monday, December 31, 2018, and the winning bid will be decided in February 2019. VICCA is also considering bidding on the 2021 NACAC Cross-Country Championships as well as the 2023 Worlds.