The Concordia Stingers cross-country running team officially commenced their competitive season with the McGill Open on Saturday. The women raced a challenging 4km on the mountain, while the men duked it out in a 6km jaunt. The women’s team placed 8th, and the men secured 6th place, out of 15 teams.
The goal of the race, according to head coach John Lofranco, was not to record personal best times or to win the race. The goal was to run with assigned groups within the team, with many veterans pacing the newcomers. The women were to stay with their group for two km and the men for four km, before dropping the leashes and charging through the last laps of the race.
“The men had a bit more trouble staying together because there were so many people, there was a pinch at one point and two guys got cut off,” explained Lofranco, “But everybody ran their race plan and kicked it up at the end.”
Veteran Amélie Roy-Marcil of the women’s team barrelled through the course in 16:32 while teammate Rebecca Trembath clocked in at 16:41. Most of the women ran in the 16-17 minute range, with rookies Sherisse McLaughlin and Kelly Hewitt running 17:12 and 17:21 respectively.
“The course wasn’t so bad, but there was one hill that was just brutal,” Hewitt said, “Up at the top I probably should have pushed it a bit more, because I wasn’t as dead as I should have been at the end.”
“We executed the plan like we were supposed to, and we finished strong,” she said.
On the men’s side, frontrunner Ryan Noel-Hodge kicked from 100 feet out to glide into third place, taking home an individual medal for Concordia with a time of 20:00 for the 6km.
“I had fun,” Noel-Hodge said, “by the second lap, I started to get a little anxious. The first two laps I was running too slow. At the start of the last lap, the coach just said let it rip. I was pretty well rested when I started to let it fly.”
And fly he did, as he passed no fewer than 12-15 runners on his last lap.
Noel-Hodge had a fierce dual with Université de Laval’s Dominic Michaud, who eventually clocked in just two seconds faster for 2nd place.
A tactical mistake is to blame, according to Noel-Hodge.
“The last turn before the finish, he got to pass me before the turn and we looped one of the last guys starting his final lap. I went way out instead of keeping to the inside,” he said.
“You learn,” he shrugged.
Stingers Simon-Malik Giroux and Sofiane Guend were next, finishing 14th and 15th respectively. Giroux ran a time of 20:43, beating his teammate by one second as Guend registered a 20:44.
“Our goal for this week now is to reflect on what we learned in this race, incorporate it into our training and prepare for the upcoming races,” said coach Lofranco.
The Stingers race again on Oct. 3 in Sherbrooke, and Oct. 10 in Quebec City.