The Pan Am Cross Country Championships are almost upon us, with more than a dozen countries competing for the fastest time on a challenging course at Bear Mountain Resort in Langford.
The competition takes place on Saturday, Feb. 29 with 126 athletes taking on four races — two U20 and two senior races. The U20 men’s race will be over an eight-kilometre distance, and the women will run six km. Both the senior men and women will run a 10 km course that features more challenging terrain than previous versions of this event.
Runners from all around the world will take part, coming from the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Roca, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Venezuela.
Canada and the U.S.A. are fielding strong teams – with 24 athletes on each – featuring the country’s best cross country runners. Peru is sending 18 runners, Mexico will send 15, and Brazil and Puerto Rico are sending 12 each. Trinidad and Tobago will have five athletes, the Bahamas will have four; Columbia will have three; Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Panama and Venezuela will have two each, and one athlete is coming from El Salvador.
A number of races are open to the public as well, in addition to the competition.
A five km community race kicks off the day’s festivities and participants will be able to run the championship course which includes hills, mud and a sandpit. The Nations Cup — for students in kindergarten to Grade 8 — has a schools challenge with schools being designated a country, with students running in t-shirts with the country’s team colours. For older students – Grades 9 to 12 – there is the Pacific Northwest Youth Cup where teams of five boys and five girls can score points to determine the fastest city team.
A Canada-USA rivalry in cross country running will also be seen up close at the Can Am Masters Challenge. Canada leads the challenge series over the USA 18 to 14 and is undefeated on Canadian soil.