Running All the Way to Islands

Monday, October 31, 2022 - By: Neve M, Hope ‘23; Photo by Mrs Reynolds

Cross Country running is an exhausting and strenuous sport, and the Brentwood XC team makes no exceptions. Throughout the fall term, the team has been enduring long-distance runs, hill sprints, and interval training, all in preparation for the Vancouver Islands Championships, or Islands, for short.

Throughout the term, the team has participated in all four events of the Cowichan Valley XC Series, all at different scenic locations. The team traveled to Glenora Park, Bright Angel Park, Shawnigan Lake School, and Cobble Hill Mountain. The season was extremely successful, with the majority of the team placing in their categories and receiving ribbons for their success. A place to compete at Islands is ensured for everyone who participates in at least one local series race.

This year’s Islands took place in Port Alberni on Wednesday, October 19th. The team endured a two hour bus ride, but managed to make some friends on the way, graciously welcoming Frances Kelsey and Cowichan Secondary runners on the bus also. After reaching the race location, we walked the course to mentally prepare themselves for the hard race ahead

There are a total of six events in XC Islands, starting with Grade 8 Girls, then Boys, moving on to Junior Women and Junior Men, and finishing off with Senior Women and Senior Men. Each race can only commence once the previous one has ended, so there is lots of waiting time. This year, the Grade 8 course was 2.9 km; the Junior course 4.0 km, and the Senior course 5.4 km. All stretched through a windy forest path, and then a long, dusty hill climb.

Do the Vancouver Island Championships differ vastly from a normal Cowichan Series race?

Yes, they drastically do.

At Islands, the number of runners is far greater; the competition changes from about 15 or 20 competitors in the local series to more than 100. As well, venue size increases; local series races are held at small parks and trailheads, while Islands spanned across an athletic stadium and field. The main difference though, the stakes at Islands are immensely higher.

“At all the Cowichan Series Races, there is nothing to gain from placing. Obviously, it is nice to receive a ribbon, but there isn’t much more than that. At Islands, placing in the top 15 qualifies you for a spot in Provincials. So it's a great opportunity, but very nerve-wracking”, explains Edith W, Allard ‘24. There is also a chance to qualify for Provincials as a team of four from the same school. Last year both Brentwood’s Senior Men’s and Women’s teams achieved this. To qualify as a team, points are deducted from your place, then added to your teammates and the top five teams earn a spot at XC Provincials.

This year, however, was extremely difficult, with sickness circulating at school and a lot of our runners suffering injuries. Many runners pushed through the race with a consistent cold. They managed to try their best and persist through the challenge, showing some real Brentwood grit!

No one managed to qualify for provincials this year, but everyone is immensely proud of the Brentwood competitors for a wonderful competitive season. Ms Reynolds, one of the Cross Country coaches with a gift for language, loved every part of the Islands race, totally enthused by every runner’s effort on Wednesday. She stated that, “Maybe it was the huge bloom of dust that billowed behind the runners as they thundered off the start line towards the first chute. Perhaps it was the majesty of the mountains behind them. I don’t know, but whatever it was, there was something sort of noble about this race. That spirit seemed to ignite our runners, because, without exception, they ran their best races of the season, many battling illness and injury. Come to think of it, it was pretty Disney. I loved it.”

Congratulations to every runner that competed in this year’s Islands.

Neve M, Hope ‘23

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