Natasha Wodak, shown here winning the Pioneer 8K in North Saanich in January, is one of the top Canadians competing in the Pan Am Cross Country Cup on Feb. 29 at Bear Mountain. (Photo by Joseph Camill)

Natasha Wodak, shown here winning the Pioneer 8K in North Saanich in January, is one of the top Canadians competing in the Pan Am Cross Country Cup on Feb. 29 at Bear Mountain. (Photo by Joseph Camill)

Canada’s best ready to take a run at Bear Mountain

2020 Pan American Cross Country Cup will be held Feb. 29 at Langford resort

Topflight competitors from Canada are gearing up to compete against a top-notch international field in the 2020 Pan American Cross Country Cup.

More than 120 athletes from Canada, Brazil, the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago are set to participate. This marks the first time the event, which gets underway on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa, will be held in Canada.

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Genevieve Lalonde, fresh off her second straight national cross country win in Abbotsford in December, is looking forward to the opportunity to represent her country.

“I’m very excited to be representing the Canadian team once again,” Lalonde said in a media release. The native of Moncton, N.B. broke her own Canadian record in the 3,000m steeplechase last year in Shanghai “We had so much fun last year at world championships and I think this is a great opportunity for the team to test their skills on Canadian soil. I know the City of Victoria is excited to be hosting the event and it is such a lovely place. It will be great to have the cross country held there.”

Lalonde said she’s hoping there’s snow in the forecast to make it a truly Canadian experience. “I think it’s an excellent event to use in preparation for the Olympic season ahead. Steeplechase is like cross country on the track, so it will be good to test my abilities on the cross country course,” she noted.

Other top Canadians in the senior women’s race include Maria Bernard-Galea from Calgary, who represented Canada in the 2016 Olympic Games and more recently at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

Natasha Wodak, who trains in North Vancouver, won a gold medal and set a new record in the 10k at the Pan American Games in Peru last year.

Top men in the senior event include John Gay from Kelowna, B.C., Connor Black from Forest, Ont., and Jean-Simon Desgagnes from Quebec City. Gay qualified for his first world championships last year, Black placed third in the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, while Desgagnes finished seventh in the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships.

Sadie Siffstead from Edmonton, who won silver last year at the Canadian Cross Country Championship in 2019, will compete in the Junior Women’s event. Kevin Robertson from Ottawa, Ont., is the Canadian national champion in the 3,000 m steeplechase.

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The Pan Am Cross Country Cup, an Association of Pan American Athletics championship, is held every second year. The event draws competitors from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean in a competition between national teams in men’s and women’s junior and senior races. El Salvador hosted the event in 2018.

Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert said having the event on home soil is a remarkable opportunity for the athletes to compete against the best competition in the Americas in front of friends and family.

It is a good test for our athletes to demonstrate performance on demand, right here at home,” he said.

For more information, visit facebook.com/athleticscanada.


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