In 2013 Whitehorse’s Kieran Halliday became the first Yukoner ever to race the steeplechase at the Canada Summer Games. Three years later he’s set to compete at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships.
Halliday will race the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championship next weekend in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
“I think my goal for the meet is another personal best and to beat some of the guys who are ranked ahead of me,” said Halliday. “Those are to two main focuses this year.
“The UBC team is in a bit of a rebuilding phase, so we’re focused on getting experience, doing as well as we can individually, and in the next couple of years it’s going to shift to a team focus and trying to win the title.”
The 20-year-old second-year student qualified for the championship at the California-Irvine’s Steve Scott Invitational last month. He placed fifth and made the B standard with a personal best of 9:31.41, just under the cutoff of 9:32.00.
“Yeah, it was close,” said Halliday.
“I’m pretty excited. I’m ranked 16th in the NAIA, so I’m really happy. I worked hard in the last year. I didn’t qualify last year and this race I qualified in was a 10-second PB (personal best) from what I raced at the Western Canada Games in Fort McMurray for Team Yukon. After a season of training I was really happy about that.”
Last week Halliday placed ninth in the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the Willamette University West Coast Invitational in Salem, Oregon, finishing in 9:40.26.
Halliday placed 12th at the 2013 Canada Games at 10:02.02 and fifth at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games at 9:42.58.
In January he broke the nine-minute mark at an indoor meet.
“I’ve run a lot of steeplechases since Sherbrooke and since Sherbrooke I’ve improved by 30 seconds,” said Halliday.
“Historically, I’ve had the most success in this event. In 11th grade I finished eighth in the steeplechase at the B.C. provincial track championship. After that I decided to pursue it a little more.”
Halliday has also been a member of the Thunderbirds cross-country team the last two seasons.
He has represented Yukon at seven major Games, including the Arctic Winter Games, in athletics, tennis, soccer, snowshoeing and snowshoe biathlon.
The NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championship will take place May 26-28 in Alabama, which is experiencing a hotter than usual spring.
“A lot of the guys have been spending a lot of time in the steam room,” said Halliday. “Some of the guys competing in the 10,000-metre have actually been running on the treadmill in the steam room for 90 minutes at a time to prepare. It’s really hot down there, apparently.”
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