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Whitehorse runners fight the cold and mud at XC nationals

It was no walk in the park; it was a race through mud in sub-zero temperatures. It was a tough one. "It's been muddy previous years, but it wasn't as bad," said Lindsay Carson.

It was no walk in the park; it was a race through mud in sub-zero temperatures. It was a tough one.

“It’s been muddy previous years, but it wasn’t as bad,” said Lindsay Carson. “I’d say it was definitely a cross-country race.”

Carson, who was one of three Whitehorse runners at the event, cracked the top-10 at the 2014 Canadian Cross-Country Championships at Jericho Beach, Vancouver, on Saturday.

The 25-year-old placed eighth out of 61 runners in the open women’s division.

She finished the muddy eight-kilometre course in 29 minutes and 55 seconds, 1:05 behind the winner.

“The race was really tough,” said Carson. “It was four two-kilometre loops. It could have been grueling, but I tried not to waste too much mental energy the first two laps, and then really focus in the last two laps to maintain my ground, pick up girls if I could. To just stay positive through the race was my goal.”

Carson was hoping for a top-six finish to land a spot on Canada’s team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships this March in the Guiyang province of China.

Though she didn’t place top-six, Carson can still potentially make the team. If two runners from the top six reject the invitation and forfeit their spot, Carson would get on board.

“Sixth would have been prime, but from experience, if you run to try and make teams, sometimes that nervous energy has a negative impact on your race results,” said Carson. “I just wanted to go out there, race for myself and give a good performance. And if I were to come top six, that’s awesome. But I wasn’t out there to race for a team, I was just out there to race for myself and show what I had at the end of the season.”

Whitehorse’s Logan Roots ran to 46th in the open men’s division for the second year in a row on Saturday. The 21-year-old finished the 10-kilometre course in 35:28.

“I was more affected by the cold,” said Roots. “It was very chilly that day. I tightened up quite a bit and it wasn’t one of my better races.”

Whitehorse’s Kieran Halliday also wasn’t thrilled with the conditions. The 18-year-old placed 63rd in junior boys.

“It snowed the night before the race and it was just super muddy,” said Halliday. “I was in the fourth or fifth race, so there had already been hundreds people doing the same course and just tearing up the grass. There was a mix of cold, frozen mud and big puddles.”

Halliday, who is a member of the University of British Columbia’s cross country team, completed the eight-kilometre race in 29:19, 2:54 behind the winner.

“The guy who won, Justyn Knight (of the University of Toronto), he’s considered one of the fastest freshmen in North American right now - he competes in NCAA Division 1,” said Halliday. “His time on this course was a couple seconds off my time on my first eight-kilometre race three months ago.

“The times are incomparable to anything else, just because of how hard it was.”

The same three Whitehorse runners competed at the 2014 B.C. Provincial Cross Country Championships in October.

Carson took third in senior women, Halliday 10th for junior boys and Roots 11th in senior men.

If Carson is offered a spot on the worlds team, it’ll be the second time she gets to go for open women. She competed at the world championships two years ago in Poland and placed 60th.

Saturday’s nationals marked the fourth and last time in a row that Greater Vancouver hosted the event. The next four cross-country championships will be held in Kingston, Ont.

“It won’t be as easy and convenient to run,” said Roots. “I need to make Team B.C. before I get to go back. A little extra motivation.”

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