Sure, the Yukon has the Canada Games Centre, Mt. McIntyre and the fast-developing Sima, but it lacks a rubber track.
A lack of experience on the surface didn’t stop two Yukon track athletes from burning rubber at the 25th annual Jack Brow Track and Field Meet in Kelowna, BC, a week ago.
“I loved it,” said Whitehorse’s Logan Roots. “It’s all about speed. Your foot doesn’t slip back at all; the power you put into every step moves you forward.”
Roots, 16, and teammate Anna Rivard, 15, who won gold while running in spikes for the first time, each logged personal bests.
“It felt really different considering I had to run in these spikes,” said Rivard.
“These shoes I had to run in—I had never run with spikes, or on a rubber track.
“I felt really grippy and easier to gain speed. It felt really weird at the end and I lost concentration, but that was just the first one I did.
“When I made it to the finals I figured out what I had to do so I didn’t go wonky at the end.
“(Our coach) Don (White) told me to keep my head down when I run and to concentrate on swinging my arms.”
Despite being relatively new to the sport, Rivard won gold in the juvenile women’s 100-metre dash with a time of 12.92 seconds, beating her previous best of 13.09.
“When it comes down to it, she’s been training for track for four or five weeks,” said White.
Rivard also finished sixth in the 200-metre with a time of 27.09.
“I think in (my heat) I could have gone a little bit faster because I was running against a headwind,” said Rivard. “(In the heats) I tied with another girl, but I beat her because my headwind was stronger than hers. It doesn’t all rely on running speed, but headwinds as well.”
Roots raced in three juvenile men’s events, with his best result being a sixth in the 3,000-metre with a time of nine minutes and 46.16 seconds. He also finished seventh in the 1,500-metre and ninth in the 800-metre, setting personal bests in both events.
“I was pretty happy I won the heats that I was in—except for the 800-metre, I was second in that heat,” said Roots. “The guy that was ahead of me was less than a second faster, but he was in a different heat. So if I was in that heat I might have been able to catch him, or pass him.”
The two runners also had to overcome another disadvantage—they lacked seed times. It forced them to race against slower runners, which, at first, sounds like a good thing.
“The thing that Anna and Logan were hampered by was going down without a seed time,” said White. “The issue of not having seed times—and that was one of the reasons for bringing the kids down—when it comes to the heats at the Canada Summer Games, the fastest people are going to be split equally among the heats with the slower people ranked around them. If our guys go down without having ranking, they are always stuck on the outside lanes, which tend to be slower.”
Producing outstanding performances in athletics is nothing new to Rivard. As a level-five gymnast with Whitehorse’s Polarettes club, Rivard won a gold medal for the vault in the Western Canadian Championships in Winnipeg earlier this year.
With so many short sprints to the vault, Rivard suggests gymnastics has given her track skills a boost.
“In gymnastics you are always sprinting, doing short, fast distances and there’s a lot of legwork,” said Rivard. “I’ve gotten really used to sprinting, so it’s easy to do the 100- and 200-metre because they’re short.
“I find when I run a longer distance (than in gymnastics), like the 100-metre, I start off slower and then sprint faster. But for the vault or something I just sprint fast all the way because it’s short.”
Both Roots and Rivard will be competing in the Canada Summer Games next month in PEI. It will be the first Summer Games for both athletes. However, Rivard competed in the 2007 Winter Games here in the Yukon for gymnastics, finishing ninth on the vault.
“I’m excited to go to the Summer Games—especially to go to PEI,” said Rivard. “I’m excited to see my friend there—she’s moving to New Brunswick—and she said she’d come watch me.”
“The next event that we might be able to get her out to (after the Summer Games) is the Junior Nationals next year,” said White. “Otherwise it is going to be the Westerns in 2011.
“If she has the interest, she definitely has the talent—so does Logan.”
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