INNISFAIL – It was just over a year ago when 11-year-old Lily Glazebrook shocked the regional sports community with a cross country gold medal at the Central Western Alberta Junior High Athletic Association (CWAJHAA) Cross-Country Championships in Red Deer.
It was her first competitive race.
And this year she was back, one year older and competing in her first three-kilometre run of the year in the Grade 7 girls category at Innisfail’s CEAA-CENAA Cross-Country Run on Oct. 5 at Centennial Park.
“I am feeling pretty good; a little bit nervous because there's some new kids who can go as fast as I can,” said the young running star from St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School, who would compete against 39 other athletes in her cross-country run. “We've been training for the past month and a half. We have a group and the last time we ran was eight kilometres.
“I try and get ahead of the people that I paced myself, and then if I get really tired I slow down a little bit but I don't stop, and then I speed up in the end,” added Glazebrook. “I'm expecting to get top three.”
Glazebrook had the correct prediction.
She finished the three-kilometre race in second place; a barn-burning tight race against gold medal winner Hadley Gardiner from Sylvan Lake’s Fox Run School who finished the run in 14 minutes and 55 seconds.
Glazebrook, the silver medal winner, had a time of 15 minutes and three seconds – just eight seconds behind Gardiner.
Her run was the best of all local competitors at the one-day event, which included young athletes from the three Innisfail public schools.
Other noteworthy results from Innisfail runners came from Brady Skogan, an Innisfail Middle School student who finished ninth in the Grade 8 boys category, and Kaden Hollman and Landon Motley, both Innisfail High School students, who finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Grade 9 boys run.
Roxy Reynolds, of Bowden Grandview School, earned a bronze medal in the Grade 8 girls category.
The CEAA-CENAA Cross-Country Run, or a version of it, has been running annually in Innisfail for more than a decade, with the exception of COVID pandemic restriction years 2020 and 2021 and another that had a snow-out.
The autumn event has been hosted by IMS, and Patrick Adams, the school’s athletic director, has been the lead organizer right from the start.
This year the annual cross-country event attracted about 1,000 young athletes from across the school division in grades 1 through 9 competing in two separate events; one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
“The weather held up. It was a little breezy but we had lots of kid, lots of smiles. Of course with that many kids we had lots of participation,” said Adams. “We're grateful to every school that takes the time, or makes the time to bring their kids.
“It's a benefit to us to have them run,” he added. “It's an opportunity for those kids that appreciate cross-country to get an opportunity to run on a track where they get to do quite a bit of cross-country running.”
The morning had the Chinook’s Edge Athletic Association (CEAA) event for school division kids from grades 1 through to 6.
Up to 12 Chinook’s Edge schools had a total of 700 young students in Innisfail to participate, which was described as more of a fun run that was about one to two kilometres long.
In the afternoon there was the Chinook’s Edge North Athletic Association (CENAA) Cross-Country Championship for more than 200 students in grades 7 through to 9 from the school division, and others from outside Chinook’s Edge.
These runs were all three kilometres long, and the top three in each grade category received either gold, silver or bronze medals.
Adams noted that the CEAA and CENAA runs on Oct. 5 are as far as it goes for the young athletes competing at the Chinook’s Edge School Division level.
However, he said athletes can go on to the CWAJHAA level, which is open to any school that wants to enter its runners.
“Once they get into high school they have that opportunity to go to zones and provincials in cross-country,” said Adams.