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Running club makes mark at cross country nationals

The Cochrane Endurance Project sent 13 athletes to represent the club and teams from Alberta at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Ottawa Nov. 27

The Cochrane Endurance Project sent 13 athletes to represent the club and teams from Alberta at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Ottawa Nov. 27.

Twenty per cent of the 65 athletes representing Alberta were club members of the Cochrane Endurance Project, something head coach and founder Travis Cummings said was significant for the young club from a growth perspective.

"We went from starting the club four years ago to having 13 athletes at nationals this [past] weekend," he said. "We had full U18 boys and girls teams and it would have been nice to have a full senior women's team, but we were just missing one scorer."

Despite missing a runner to make a full team, the senior women's still had a strong performance in the women's open 10-kilometre race, with the club's Sophia Nowicki placing 35th, Jessica Kaiser placing 33rd and 31-year-old Courtney Brohart finishing ninth overall.

Brohart's placement qualifies her to compete in the Pan American Games or North American Cross Country Championships.

"It was a confidence booster to be able to see the results of the work we've put in these last two years," she said. "It was nice to be able to prove that [at nationals] and to see the results of all that training that I have put in."

Brohart has been with the Cochrane Endurance Project for two years, she said, but her love of running started around the age of 11.

"I started running competitively in Grade 6, where we went to our city meets and provincials and that, and then I ran through high school and university as well. I ran in the CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] for five years."

For Brohart, one of the highlights at nationals was watching the younger group of athletes compete in some of their first big races, on a big field. 

"The positivity and excitement around the younger kids, that kind of really made the weekend I would say," she said. "And it's exciting to see how much they've also progressed over the last couple years that they have been running in that more competitive circuit."

In the U18 boys six-kilometre heat, the team of Brendan Maguire, Clay Grattidge, Nick Hooper and Caden Jones placed 20th overall.

Holly Moores, Csenia Irvin, Makenna Myatt and Ellie Barlow ranked 19th overall in their U18 girls four-kilometre race.

In the junior men's race, Jake White placed 65th and Endurance Project coach Pamela Moores placed seventh for her age group in the women's masters.

In the club's last showing at nationals in 2019, they sent nine athletes and there were no full teams, said Cummings.

This year, their numbers increased to allow for two full scoring teams.

"It was great for that because now we have a foundation and baseline for future athletes who are going to be on our U18 teams and above," Cummings said. "They kind of know where the bar is now and we can work on improving that."

He added that many of the U18 runners in the club are quite young and will race in the same age group next year, so they can hopefully only go up from here.

"It's a nice feather in the cap," said Cummings. "We have a different focus, different structure than a lot of other clubs. The kids who come out, they want to be there and they improve and we make it work for what everyone's individual goals are, and we really want to keep it that type of situation."