Yukoners give their best on the track

As the joke goes at the Canada Summer Games, Yukon doesn't have a talent pool to draw from, but a talent puddle, referring to the territory's small population.

Charlottetown, PEI

As the joke goes at the Canada Summer Games, Yukon doesn’t have a talent pool to draw from, but a talent puddle, referring to the territory’s small population.

However, with half the Yukon’s athletes eligible for the next Summer Games, the joke may become an ironic footnote in time.

“I hope in four years, if I keep training and keep improving, I’ll come (to the Games) again,” said Yukon’s Logan Roots. “Now that I see what times people are running and it’s like, alright, that’s something to work towards.”

In athletics, not everyone paced last. Best of all, every Yukon runner except one set personal-best times in competitions this week.

“Here, everyone is five or six years older than I am, so I really wasn’t going for a place, just wondering if I can beat the times I set in Kelowna,” said Roots. “I did that in both the 800-metre and 1,500-metre, which I’m really happy about.”

For Roots, 16, it was not a matter of shaving off milliseconds, but big chunks of time off his personal bests, taking four seconds off his 800-metre with a time of 2:03.96 and 16 seconds off his 1,500-metre with a time of 4:15.28.

Yukon’s Anna Rivard, 15, not only set personal bests, with times of 12.85 in the 100-metre and 26.49 in the 200-metre, she beat athletes from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the 200-metre to finish 17th.

“I was really happy to run with someone beside or behind me because I really didn’t want to be at the back,” said Rivard. “I really want to go to more track meets, especially the Western (Canadian Championships). It seems like it would be fun being there.”

Furthermore, the experience of the Games may result in Yukon athletes wanting to extend their participation beyond short- and long-distance running events.

“A lot of these (Yukon) athletes are new to track and this shows them what’s out there,” said Yukon team manager Rodney Hulstien. “Hopefully they’ll continue with it.

“The running community in general – in track and field – is pretty small in the Yukon. The more athletes we have, maybe one day we can have better facilities,” he said.

“It sure has opened my eyes to different events that we can’t do in the Yukon because we don’t have the right equipment,” said Rivard. “We have hurdles and stuff, but we don’t have the right (rubber) track. But it’s still fun watching to see what other people can do that you’ve never thought of doing.

“It’s really fun watching the steeplechase; someone fell in (the water) and it was actually really funny,” she said.

As for setting personal bests, cheering crowds and stiff competition can raise a runner’s performance, said Roots.

“When you’re walking on and everyone is clapping and cheering, yeah, (that helps),” said Roots. “But after your second or third lap, you can’t really focus on the crowd at all, it’s just, ‘I see the person in front of me, I see the next corner, and I want to get around it and I want to get to that person.”

The personal bests that Rivard and Roots beat were set at the Jack Brow Track and Field Meet in Kelowna, BC, at the end of June. Rivard won gold in the juvenile women’s 100-metre dash with a time of 12.92 seconds and also finished sixth in the 200-metre with a time of 27.09.

Roots raced in three juvenile men’s events, with his best result being a sixth in the 3,000-metre with a time of 9:46.16. He also finished seventh in the 1,500-metre and ninth in the 800-metre.

Yukon results after Thursday:

Boys

Boris Hoefs – 21st in 100-metre,19th in 200-metre

James Yeulet – 20th in 200-metre, 21 in 400-metre

Robbie Westberg – 20th in 400-metre, 20th in 800-metre

Logan Roots – 19th in 800-metre

Knute Lawson Johnsgaard – 18th in 5000-metre

Girls

Anna Rivard – 18th in 100-metre, 17th in 200-metre

Odette Rivard – 20th in 400-metre, 21st in 800-metre

Janelle Greer – 20th in 800-metre

Brittany Pearson-Smith – 16th in 5000-metre

Heidi O’Connor-Brook – 17th in 5000-metre

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com