(Photo: Michael P. Hall)
Natasha Wodak (Vancouver, B.C.) and Ross Proudfoot (Sudbury, Ont.) each battled strong fields to come out victorious in Kingston, Ont., at the 2015 Canadian Cross Country Championships. The rolling hills of the historic Fort Henry course and muddy conditions made for an exciting day of racing. A record number of championship participants enjoyed a calm, overcast day, perfect for a cross country championship event.
No stranger to success in cross country, Ross Proudfoot used a superior close over the final kiliometre to take the men's senior title. The 2014 CIS cross country champion was content to bide his time in the middle of the lead pack for the majority of the 10km race. Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (Quebec, Que.) broke open the race in the late stages, forcing Proudfoot and Alex Genest (Lac-aux-Sables, Que.) to try and chase him down. Proudfoot crossed the line first followed by Genest and Philibert-Thiboutot in silver and bronze medal positions respectively. The Speed River Track Club claimed the men's senior team title and Run Ottawa $2000 prize purse.
In the senior women's race, a pack consisting of Wodak, Rachel Cliff (Vancouver, B.C.), and Sasha Gollish (Toronto, Ont.), and defending champion Rachel Hannah (Toronto, Ont.) pushed hard from the front. By the start of the final 2km loop, Hannah gained separation from the others. Taking advantage of some fast downhills over the last 1km of the race, Wodak was able to close the gap and pass Hannah by unleashing a kick over the final uphill stretch to the finish. Hannah earned silver and last year's runner-up Cliff rounded out the podium in third. Kingston based Physi-Kult made their hometown proud by claiming the women's club team title and earned the Run Ottawa $2000 in prize money.
Hannah Bennison (Kelowna, B.C.) was dominant on her way to winning the women's junior race by 21 seconds. In the junior men's race, Ehab El-Sandali (Toronto, Ont.) wasn't afraid to push the pace from the start and claimed the title after a good battle with Ben Workman (Kingston, Ont.). Speed River Track Club won both the men and women's junior team crowns.
Hometown girl Brogan MacDougall (Kingston, Ont.) and Jonathan Stoppa (Barry's Bay, Ont.) earned Canadian Cross Country titles in the youth division. Craig Odermatt (Victoria, B.C.) and Sarah Nagy (Newmarket, Ont.) were the top runners in the master's division.
The great day in Kingston culminated with Rachel Hannah being presented the 2015 Pan Am Games bronze medal for the marathon as the crowd serenaded her with 'O Canada'.
The Canadian Cross Country Championships return to Kingston, Ont. for 2016-2018. Next year's race is scheduled for November 26, 2016.
Source: Athletics Canada