Kelowna, B.C. – In the first ever U SPORTS cross country race both of the UBC Okanagan teams delivered victories. UBC Okanagan was accepted to compete in cross country at the U SPORTS level this past June after seven years in the CCAA.
The dual meet was an invitational race between UBCO and Thompson Rivers, the women raced at noon on Saturday in Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna in a six-kilometre loop. The men ran an eight-kilometre track in the park with a 1 p.m. start. The women scored 12 points compared the WolfPack's 25 and the men for the Heat finished with 14 points, TRU 12.
The Men's team use similar tactics to secure an identical 1,2,3 finish as the women and a victory in their first U. SPORTS race.
Fourth year racer Mike Mitchell ran away from the field early on his way to winning the race in a time of 29:28.
First year runner Turner Woodroff (30:18) and Owen Harris (30:36) worked together throughout the race to separate themselves from the TRU pack. Their second and third placing set the team up for victory.
Alex Spice (32:32) rounded out the scoring for the team by moving up through the field in the late stages of the race to place eighth.
Mitchell, an Applied Science student, thought the day was a success saying.
"The race went well. Owen [Harris] led for the first two kilometre and helped set the pace." Which was good for Mitchell as he knew that his TRU opponents have a strong 'kick' and are able to finish fast.
"TRU have the guys with the ability to kick I decided to push the pace early to avoid that happening and it coming to a sprint finish, the plan was to take the speed out of their legs by pushing the pace early into the race and I managed to stay away from the group after that."
The strategy worked for the Heat's other top runners as Mitchell notes.
"Owen and Turner ran the hills hard on the last lap and were able to pull away from the remaining TRU guys to take spots 2-3."
It was a great day with perfect weather but there was a five minute delay to the start of the race from a black bear wandering around on the course. The Bear was spotted at the starting line by women's runner Veronika Fagan just 100 metres from the line. Fagan didn't say she ran faster and it may or may not have affected the speed of the runners but Fagan said she was checking every corner to make sure there was no bear.
John Machuga noted that the event was helped by the generosity of the Vernon Amateur Athletic Association who provided equipment and volunteers for the race while the Kelowna Running club stepped up at the last minute and provided a needed display clock.
This race, hosted by UBCO will count for the Cup and is the first win for the men over TRU for the season-long competition. The men's score has each school with a win and also one tie, TRU won and the two team's played to a scoreless draw already in soccer.