We might not have a slickly groomed course. There might not be a Starbucks right next to the course. And there might not be comfortable seating available at the finish line.
Those comfortable things might be available down south, but up here in the hinterland we have something that they just can’t get.
That’s right. Grizzly bears. The Northwestern Zone cross-country championships were originally scheduled to be hosted by Houston Secondary at the Morice Mountain cross-country ski trails, and the Houston crew had put a lot of time into grooming the course. But the afternoon before the race, grizzly bear tracks were spotted all along the course. Big ones.
While the bears are not an official part of the training program of any of our zone’s schools, don’t let the other schools know that. Let’s just say we might have a little psychological edge.
Of course athlete safety came first and the decision was made to move the event. The Town of Smithers was very accommodating in giving last-minute permission to use the Riverside Park course which was familiar to most contestants.
To keep it at least a little interesting, snow started to fall a couple of hours prior to the event.
“Cross-country runners are tough, and they rose to the occasion and we got to see some great performances,” said Smithers coach and Zone representative Jody Barber.
Smithers Secondary teams won the junior boys, senior boys, and senior girls divisions as well as the overall Zone championship.
Individual runners came through despite the challenges. Konrad Thummerer and Eliyah Brawdy of Smithers Secondary took the Senior Boys and Girls titles respectively.
Top honors in the junior girls went to Olivia Faetz of Caledonia Secondary, while the junior boys crown went to Salish MacDonald of Houston Secondary.
“We are now in our final preparations for the trip to Provincial Championships at Jericho Beach in Vancouver. Smithers is taking 17 athletes,” said Barber.
Nine schools across the Northwest will be sending 47 runners to the provincial meet competition to be held Nov 4.