Athletes from 12 different countries will take on a challenging Bear Mountain course Saturday for the Pan Am Cross Country Cup.
The biannual race will feature 117 athletes from the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and the United States. It is in conjunction with the NACAC Cross Country Championships.
Cross country teams will compete in four different races for males and females – two U20 and two senior races. The U20 men’s race will be over an 8 kilometre distance while the female race will be 6 kilometres. The senior men and women will run 10 kilometres.
The largest teams, with 24 athletes each, are Canada and the United States.
Canada’s senior women’s team will be led by Genevieve Lalonde, Natasha Wodak and Maria Bernard-Galea while John Gay, Connor Black and Jean-Simon Desgagnes will lead the senior men’s side. Lalonde is a two-time defending Canadian Cross Country champion and Wodak set a new 10 kilometre Pan American Games record in Peru last year. Gay and Black qualified for the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup due to strong performances at the 2019 Cross Country Championships.
“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.”
There will be 18 runners from Peru, 15 from Mexico, 12 from Brazil and Puerto Rico each, five from Trinidad and Tobago, four from the Bahamas, three from Colombia; two from Costa Rica, Guadeloupe and Panama each and one from El Salvador.
The Pan Am Cross Country Cup is held every second year and attracts teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. The last one was held in El Salvador. This is the first time Canada has hosted these championships, which will take place on the Bear Mountain Golf Course on Saturday.
In addition to the Pan Am XC Cup, a series of other races will be run on the same course like the Can Am Masters Challenge between Canada and the USA, the Pacific Northwest Youth Cup, the Nations Cup and a five kilometre community race that will kick off the day.