Runners and their supporters from 12 different countries took to Bear Mountain in Langford on Saturday for the Pan Am Cross Country Cup.
The championship race, which is held every second year, attracts teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. The last Cup was held in El Salvador. This is the first time Canada has hosted these championships which take place on a challenging, hilly course at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa.
Saturday opened with a five-kilometre community race at 9 a.m. After, the U20 women competed in a six-kilometre race for the Pan Am XC Cup.
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Brooke Rauber, representing the United States, took gold in the U20 competition with a time of 23:12. Canada’s Sadie Sigfstead took silver with a time of 23:23 and Jhenifer Melchor of Peru won bronze with a time of 23:46.
The U20 men competed in an eight-kilometre race with Corey Gorgas of the United States coming in first with a time of 27:15. Evan Bishop, also representing the United States, took silver with a time of 27:20 In third place came Alejandro Alania of Peru. His time was a tie with Cesar Daniel Gomez Ponce of Mexico. Both Alania and Ponce finished with a time of 27:27.
Senior women and men both ran a 10-kilometre race for the Pan Am XC Cup. On the women’s side, Genevieve Lalonde of Canada took gold with a time of 37:37. Carrie Verdon of the United States took silver with a time of 38:09 and Lizaida Thalia Valdivia from Peru won bronze with a time of 38:12.
On the men’s side, Johnatas De Oliveira Cruz of Brazil took gold with a time of 32:50. Anthony Rotich of the United States clocked the same time and took Silver and Paul Ramirez of Peru took bronze with a time of 33:11.
There were 117 athletes in total at the Pan Am XC Cup from the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and the United States.
Canada’s senior women’s team was led by Genevieve Lalonde, Natasha Wodak and Maria Bernard-Galea while John Gay, Connor Black and Jean-Simon Desgagnes led the senior men’s side.
“We are very excited to be competing on home turf and in such a high-performance sport environment like Greater Victoria,” said Hilary Stellingwerff, coach of the Pan Am Canadian team. “We have very strong teams in all the categories, with our top athletes racing and contending for medals, individually and as teams.”
Canada and the United States had the largest teams with 24 runners on each.
Canada swept both the men’s and women’s races in the Can Am Challenge, with University of Victoria student Graham Cocksedge taking first with 12:24 in the 5k. Similarly, Victoria’s Jen Millar took home top title with 20:34 for the 5k.
The Pacific Northwest Youth Cup showcased the top high school runners in the region. Victoria’s Jonah Brost won the boys race with 18:13 and Coquitlam’s Ella Madsen won the girls race with 19:23. Overall, Surrey won the championship, with Victoria taking home the boy’s division and the girl’s for Vancouver, respectively.
The Nations Cup saw over 175 kids from 22 schools run a 1.6km loop, including grades K-8 in several waves. Each school was given a Pan Am country to run their country’s colours.
The day ended with Team Canada taking second, with USA heading home with the top title and Peru in third.
– with files from Aaron Guillen