Most of the focus in the fall cross country season is on the university competitions, but did you know there is a vibrant club scene in Quebec as well? Of course you did! And the Quebec Federation has stepped up and made cross country a priority, with a promise to fund about 70% of the trip to Vancouver and the National Cross Country Championships, for 9 top club runners.
The details of the program can be found here. The essentials are that 6 senior men, and one each of senior women, junior women and junior men, as well as a coach, will be selected to represent Quebec at nationals. Two years ago at Guelph the team was told, run well because Quebec won’t be sending a team to nationals again real soon. Well, sooner than we thought, we are back.
So who are the top candidates to go? The senior men’s category will send a full team complement of 6. Many of the top university athletes are also club runners, and should be at the front of the pack. A short list would include Jean-Samuel Lapointe (3:49 1500, QC XC champ 2011), Charles Philibert-Thibotout (3:41 1500, 14:24 5k), Emmanuel Boisvert (31:02 10k) (all three of CAUL), Ryan Noel-Hodge (30:59, 14:33) (MTLE and Concordia), Olivier Lavoie, Alex Mavrovic (14:29) (SHER), and Ben Raymond (CADL and McGill).
But there are some non-university runners who may also make an impact. Transplanted Frenchman Jacques-Sylvain Lecointre (MTLE) has been chasing Noel-Hodge in workouts, and looks to return to continental form. Olivier Babineau (MTLE), if he survives the rigours of the semi-pro soccer season, has an excellent distance running pedigree. Fellow New Brunswicker, and Babs’ former coach, Joel Bourgeois must also be included in this list, running for Coureur Nordique. Spartan King Sebastien Monette (CAVD) can surely mix it up with the front pack, as long as there is some barbed-wire to motivate him. And what of Debardi (FLYS)?
On the women’s side, Joanie Roy and Dominique Roy (no relation) are strong candidates for the podium. If Catherine Cormier is running, however, she should run away with it, given her international cross country experience. The university ranks will also provide a challenge, as Caroline Pfister (SHER) seems to be the presumptive favourite, although if Karine Belleau-Belliveau (VAIN) runs, her 4:15.64 1500m, and international chops might pose a challenge to Cormier. Gabriel Lebel (KJN) and Melanie Myrand (MTLE) may also nose around the lead pack.
In the junior ranks, with last year’s champion Annie Leblanc gone to Oregon, and runner-up Amélie Kretz in New Zealand for the World Triathlon Championships, the door is open for a new challenger to step up. Perhaps Ali Barwick (MOC) will be that woman, or Beatrice Ouellet (FILO). All this assumes that junior, senior, university and CEGEP women will be run together. Otherwise, some junior-aged university runners may miss out on the chance to go to club nationals.
On the men’s junior side, the summer’s steaming hot track battles will play out again, but do the 800m men Alex Bussières (CAUL) and Mathieu Sturkenboom (CAVD) have the guts to go 8k with distance horses like Alex Lavigne (CAUL) and Antoine Thibeault (PHX)? Marc-Antoine Rouleau (CAVD) and Louis-Erik Demers (MOC) will be running in the university 10k race for Sherbrooke and McGill respectively, so they won’t be a factor, but don’t forget Nicholas Morin (CAVD) and Charles Cooper (MOC) who had some man-sized races this summer. Skiier Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier of Montreal West may also be a factor. With the CEGEP season in disarray due to reschedules classes, who knows what sort of competition will we see this fall.