It all comes down to this weekend for the St. Mary’s University Lightning Cross-Country team as the runners prepare for the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Championships this weekend at Confederation Park in Calgary.
St. Mary’s is proud to be home to some amazing track athletes who will be competing at the ACAC hosted by SAIT. Unlike running indoor track, cross-country running does not have the luxury of a predictable course. Weather can be a factor on a cross-country race and affect the terrain of a course that often includes grass, mud, hills and flat ground.
Lighting Cross-Country runner Bethany Topping has been working towards this Championship race all season and credits the workouts supplied to her by Lightning Head Coach Donna Dixon as having a tremendous impact on her pre-championship preparations.
“I’ve prepared for the ACAC XC Championships by ensuring that I stick to the workouts prescribed by my coach, taking part in dynamic core and strength workouts on our cross-training days, and stretching properly after every workout,” explained Topping.
The work is not only physical however, as Topping stressed the mental preparation necessary to compete in cross-country.
“Cross-Country is not just a physical workout, but it is a major mental battle,” said Topping. “Anyone can travel six or eight kilometers by foot, but it takes commitment and self-discipline to hold a pace for the entire time it takes to get you [to the finish line], and at a competitive speed no less.”
For Dixon, seeing the gradual improvements of her athletes is one of the most rewarding experiences heading into Championship weekend.
“Helping student-athletes embrace training consistently, get fit, achieve their racing goals, and also enjoy being part of a varsity team is the most rewarding part of coaching.”
“Training and racing for a six or eight kilometer cross-country race is challenging. You have to be prepared to work hard both mentally and physically to sustain your pace throughout a workout or race. It is very rewarding when all the hard work leads to good performances.”
The ACAC Cross-Country Running Championship will be held at Confederation Park on Saturday, October 26 with the women racing at noon and the men race starting at 1 p.m.
To mark the occasion, members of the St. Mary’s University will hosting a Lightning Athletics pep-rally on campus to celebrate the cross-country team before their race on Saturday and cheer on the basketball teams.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month the Lightning athletes will all be wearing special pink shirts as a way to show support and help bring a bit of awareness to a cause that has impacted so many lives.
“It is important for our athletes to be leaders in the community and with social issues like this that affect everyone, it is important that we rally around those members of the community and show support as they show support to us,” said Nathan Ruff, Director of Athletics and Recreation for St. Mary’s University.
To Ruff, the pep rally will be a great way for the St. Mary’s University community to meet the student-athletes who represent the school as well as show some support as the season kicks off in earnest.
“To be a student-athlete is a huge commitment and this is a great chance for the St. Mary’s community to come out and show their support.”