First-ever U SPORTS cross country race hosted by UBCO

First-ever U SPORTS cross country race hosted by UBCO

Both UBC Okanagan Heat teams delivered victories in the first-ever U SPORTS cross country race Saturday at Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna.

UBC Okanagan was accepted to compete in cross country at the U SPORTS level last June after seven years in the CCAA.

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The dual meet was an invitational race between UBCO and Thompson Rivers WolfPack of Kamloops with the women racing at noon in a six-kilometre loop and the men following with an eight-kilometre track in the park with a 1 p.m. start.

The women scored 12 points compared to the WolfPack’s 25 and the Heat men finished with 14 points and TRU had 12 in the President’s Cup. UBCO and TRU are tied on the men’s side with a win and a tie (three points). UBCO leads the women’s series 1-0. The next stage comes Thursday when the two schools will meet in the start of a home and home women’s soccer series.

The men’s team use similar tactics to secure an identical one-two-three 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 29 minutes and 28 seconds.

First-year runner Turner Woodroff (30:18) and Owen Harris (30:36) worked together throughout the race to separate themselves from the TRU pack. 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 kilometres and helped set the pace. TRU have the guys with the ability to kick. I decided to push the pace early to avoid that happening and it comes 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 noted: “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 two and three.”

It was a great day with sunny skies but there was a five-minute delay to the start of the race due to 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 sign of a bear.

Calum Carrigan of Kamloops was fourth in the’s men’s race (30:49) to lead TRU. Liam McGrath of Vernon was ninth (33:27).


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