Saturday, December 04, 2004

Canadian XC Champs, Sunnybrooke Park

Canadian Cross-Country Championships, Sunnybrooke Park, Toronto
Lisa Labrecque, of Sudbury's Track North Athletic Club, placed 5th at the Canadian Cross Country Running Championships at Toronto's Sunnybrooke Park this weekend. Labrecque, a member of Canada's team at the 2004 World Championships,improved on last year's 14th place finish with a personal best time of 20:53 over the 6 km course.

With 600m to go, Labreque was 10 metres behind the lead pack,but mounted a furious finish to move to fifth place. Her time in the blustery conditions was only one second away from a bronze medal.

"I've been coaching for 25 years, and I've never seen a cross-country finish like that," said Track North coach, Dick Moss. The third through 6th runners were neck and neck over the last 60 metres. It was a like the final round of a heavyweight fight with everyone exhausted but still swinging with everything they had."

The race was a qualifier for Canada's team for the 2005 World Championships in St. Galmier France in March, and Labrecque's performance puts her in the selection pool for the team.

"I've never hurt that much with 600m to go and be still be able to kick," said a tired but happy Labrecque. "It was a huge improvement and I feel like I've stepped up a level. And I've improved my chances of making the funded 4k squad at Worlds. Last year that team finished third in the world and was only beaten by two African teams.

"Also in the race was Laurentian's standout rookie runner, Kirsti Dolson, who finished 38th with a time of 23:53. Dolson, the youngest runner in the race, and Labrecque, who is an assistant coach with Laurentian and a teacher with the Rainbow School Board, train together in Sudbury.

In the Junior race, were Kaitlyn Tallman, 89th in 20:15/5k and Emma Tallman, 120th in 21:15/5k out of 148 runners.

"This is a unique race." said Moss. "It brings together the best runners in every event from 800m to marathon, including Olympians, National Team members,and Canadian Champions. They put them all on the line at the same time,fire the gun and tell them to duke it out."

The race was was won by Hamilton's Rebecca Stallwood, followed by Calgary's Malindi Elmore, Vancouver's Leah Pells, Edmonton's Megan Metcalfe,then Lisa Labrecque.