Amy Kenny | Special to the News
Jack Amos doesn’t like to lead the pack. In fact, he sounds almost nauseous talking about it.
“I’m not super comfy right out in the front. Not up until the end anyway,” says the Dawson City runner.“I’d much rather just be fifth or third. I’d rather watch the race from the back and see how it’s unfolding and predict what’s happening and then make a move.”
That’s exactly how Amos, 16, won the Men’s Youth category at the B.C. Cross Country Championships on Oct. 28. However, his strategy, of hanging out in the middle of 50 runners before kicking up to first, surprised even Amos this year.
Though he won the race in 2016, Amos wasn’t expecting a repeat performance. In the weeks leading up to the five kilometre race, he’d been watching the times posted by Surrey teen Jaxon Mackie. Amos didn’t think he could match them.
In the end, Amos finished in 15:18, while Mackie came in at 15:19 (Yukon’s Darby McIntyre also ran that race, placing 47th with a time of 18:44).
“I was incredibly blown away by it,” Amos says over the phone from Victoria. He’s living there while he trains with former Olympic marathon runner Bruce Deacon and the Prairie Inn Harriers running club. “It’s definitely beyond what I was expecting. To be honest, I would have thought a really good race would have meant I got third, maybe second.”
“I was thinking, just go out for the first kilometre, not super hard and then see where it’s at from there. Maybe try and stick with the lead pack depending on how I’m feeling.”
Don White says that’s a standard habit of Amos’s, but he might need to get to the front more quickly at upcoming competitions.
White, a coach with Athletics Yukon, was in Abbotsford for the B.C. Championships, with McIntyre and Yukon’s Naoise Dempsey (Dempsey finished a three-km race in 11:14, placing 36 out of 42). He also coached Amos before Amos moved to B.C. this year, albeit remotely.
White emailed workouts from Whitehorse, and connected Amos with running buddies in Dawson, but White says there wasn’t anyone fast enough to really push Amos.
“(Down south), he’s been training with people who are as fast or faster than he is,” says White. “That’s made him considerably faster.”
White will travel with Amos to represent the Yukon in Kingston at the National Cross-Country Championships on Nov. 25. That’s the kind of race where White says Amos will have to pick up the pace earlier because, as White puts it, when you’re racing 200 other runners, you can’t hang at the back and expect to work your way to the front over the course of just six kilometres.
Amos is excited for the race, if a bit nervous. Last year when he competed, it was his first nationals. Rain and snow made the course mucky at the starting line. Amos was inexperienced with cross-country, and he was running up a level because the competition didn’t have a midget category. He ended up placing 85 out of 211, with a six-kilometre time of 20:36.
Though he wasn’t happy with his performance, he says the experience was great as far as seeing where the rest of Canada is in terms of running. And this year, he’s positive about the possibilities.
“Hopefully this year will be a lot better,” he says. “I think if I race like I did two weeks ago it’s going to be a really good race … I just need to get a good start and maintain a healthy pace.”
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