South Surrey runners earn top-10 finishes at virtual ‘Pandemic Challenge’ race

Cross-country event staged over two weeks after traditional season cancelled due to COVID-19

It may not have been a traditional cross-country race, where hordes of runners take off from the start line at once, and it may not have ended with the standard medal presentation ceremony, with victorious runners standing atop a podium, either.

But there were still plenty of athletic feats worth celebrating at the conclusion of BC School Sports’ Virtual Cross-Country Pandemic Challenge, which wrapped up earlier this month.

The event – which began in late October and lasted two weeks – was created as a way to keep student runners active once a true competitive season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runners in Grades 8-12 ran either three- or 5.5-km distances on their own or with their school teams, and then submitted their best times.

BC School Sports – the organizing body for high-school sports across the province – released the top results in stages over the past few days.

In the junior girls three-km category, Elgin Park Secondary’s Maella Hodgeson was the fastest, with a pair of South Surrey runners just behind her – Mackenzie Hack, a Semiahmoo Secondary student, placed fifth, and Southridge School’s Rachel McDonald was seventh.

The top-10 finishers in the junior girls 5.5-km division was dominated by members of North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals, who placed runners in six of the 10 spots. First place, however, went to South Delta’s Gemma Dumas, who was the only runner from a south-of-the-Fraser school to land in the top 10.

In the junior boys three-km run, Elgin Park’s James Hodgeson was the top South Surrey finisher, placing fourth, while another Elgin runner, Connor Nicol, was third in the 5.5-km event. A few spots below Nicol, in sixth place, was Earl Marriott Secondary’s Hudson Irvine.

Three Elgin Park runners placed in the top 10 in the senior girls three-km category – Emma Cobban in sixth, Kezia Coutts in seventh and Sophie Worsley in 10th.

No South Surrey runners clocked top-10 times in the 5.5-km category, which was won by South Delta’s Brianna Jassmann.

In the senior boys division, there were no South Surrey/White Rock runners in the top 10 of the three-km race, but a handful made their mark in the 5.5-km distance. Semiahmoo’s Caiden Lee was fourth, White Rock Christian Academy’s Jared Faw placed ninth and Elgin Park’s Isaac Baker was 10th overall.


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