Vernon’s Annika Ariano collected a gold medal from the Pan Am XC Cup cross-country running event in Victoria.
Athletes from North, Central and South America gathered at Bear Mountain Resort in the provincial capital to compete in an event that is held every two years. The 2020 race was the first time the competition was held on Canadian soil. The 2018 event was in El Salvador.
The weather, venue and course could not have been better with the race director setting up a very technical course with plenty of ups and downs, tight turns and a memorable uphill 150-metre climb to the finish. The course was two kilometres with racers running anywhere from three-to-five loops for a total of six-to-10 km.
Ariano, a graduate of Seaton Secondary and former member of the Vernon Amateur Athletics Association who now runs for the University of Guelph Gryphons, place 19th overall in the U20 women’s event. Fellow Canadians Sadie Sidfstead was second, Ceili McCabe was sixth, Petal Palmer seventh and Mackenzie Campbell 23rd.
Ariano secured her spot on the team by placing top-six at the national championships in November in Abbotsford.
“The opportunity to represent Canada at this international race was an incredible honour and I’m very thankful to have made the team,” she said. “I would say the course at Bear Mountain was probably one of the hardest courses I’ve ever run on but that’s what made it really fun as well.”
Along with the individual event there was also a team event for the Pan Am Cup as well as the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cup (NACAC). Winners are decided by totalling up the placings for the first three and first four respectively crossing the line per team with the lowest number winning. The U20 ladies garnered golds in both team competitions.