Vikings hunt for cross-country championship
University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings cross-country runner Matt Martin is one of the club''s top hopes for the podium as they host the fifth stop of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Grand Prix on Saturday at Stoney Creek. Women race at noon with the men at 1 p.m.
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings are out hunting for an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference cross-country championship.
This weekend they will be hosting the province at Stoney Creek Lodge in the final tune up for the provincial championship in Red Deer on Oct. 28.
“It’s our home race, so it’s the most important one to us in some ways,” said Robert Renman who coaches the club along with Gerhardt Lotz. “We’re training fairly hard to prepare for the championship race, it’s not one where we need to place at the top necessarily, it’s a fine-tuning race.”
The Vikings enter the race with the No. 2 ranked men’s team and the No. 6 ranked women’s club.
They are led by runners Matt Martin, Joedy Dalke, Erik Rust, Michio Green and Emile Vogel Nakamura, while Emily McIlroy, MacKenzie Grove, Jessica Haenni, Anne Mirejovsky and Anika Asfeldt are blazing a trail for the Augustana women.
While overall rankings do not carry over into the championship, they serve as a measuring stick to see what the rest of the ACAC is capable of. This event is always one of the most well attended of the five-race grand prix season, averaging about 200 runners, so it will be a great look of just where they stand.
“This race is one everyone will come to,” said Renman. “It’s the second last race so teams want to show up to this one because it’s the last one before the championship and it’s one of the best courses, it’s a popular race.”
On the men’s side, everyone is chasing the SAIT Trojans who have won all three races they have shown up to, while the women’s side has been a back and forth between SAIT and Red Deer College.
But on the weekend, everyone will have their work cut out for them if the University of Alberta makes the drive down from Edmonton as they normally do.
The race holds an open classification and thus is open to community club runners well who are looking for a challenge.
The Stoney Creek course is considered one of the best on the circuit as it offers a challenging combination of hills and flats.
“Ups and downs are what most runners want for cross-country and the course has a nice distribution of hills that are moderately challenging,” said Renman.
Runners will complete two loops of the course, with the women on a six kilometre track and the men on an eight kilometre loop. The women’s race goes at noon with the men taking off at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Spectators are encouraged to come on out and watch.
“We encourage locals to come out and watch and run,” he said. “It’s an entertaining time out there at the Stoney Creek Centre, you can see runners all of the way.”