Runners battle frigid temperates for RCMP Road Race
The RCMP Road Race took off down Highway 28 on Tuesday morning despite some of the coldest temperatures in the event's 34-year history, but it didn't stop St. Paul Regional and Racette from continuing their dominance on the asphalt.
“They seemed pretty ready to run. I think everything went well,” said race organizer and RCMP Const. Shane Farr. “Obviously it was pretty cold so (runners) were staying on the buses, but I think once they got running they really liked it.”
St. Paul Regional claimed its 14th straight victory in the high school category, while Racette continued its decades long dominance in the junior high category, picking up its 23rd straight first place finish.
“I don’t think any of these kids want to be the first team to lose,” said Gilles Gervais, coach of the Racette team for all 23 victories. Gervais added that every member in his running team of over 50 athletes was a part of Tuesday’s victory. “Even though our first team is only 12 kids they’re all part of it. They encourage and push each other, and I think that’s the bottom line. I also have some really good volunteers that help me coach these guys, and that’s a big part of it.”
Racette's Brenden Foote, who ran in his second RCMP Road Race on Tuesday, agreed that no one at Racette wants to be the team that snaps the streak, which worked as inspiration during the run.
“You know that you’ve won it for 22 years and you want to win again, because if you lose you’ll be that team,” he said, adding the frigid temperatures were a challenge. “Last year was a lot warmer. The weather was with us last year. This year it was more windy and cold, so you had to make sure you were really warmed up and ready for the race. It helped because the wind would push you as you ran, so that was a good advantage, but it was still really cold.”
St. Paul Regional Coach Hank Smid said his runners were prepared for the cold temperatures, but that didn't make it easy.
“The conditions were not great, but we told our kids to dress warm and be ready for it and they did an awesome job,” said Smid, adding the RCMP did a great job in ensuring the safety of the runners. “Safety’s been their first concern. There were multiple vehicles traveling back and forth, as well as a vehicle being at the lead and at the back, so it was really well done . . . I have no concerns about having my athletes take on this event.”
Const. Farr ran the first leg of the race with the RCMP-St. Paul Alternative Education Centre team, which saw members of the RCMP as well as teachers and students from SPAEC take on the relay together. He added the road race has been an important event for the RCMP in its 34 years, as it combines the efforts of the community and allows students to see members of the RCMP in a different light.
“It’s a good partnership with the community in general,” he said, adding a number of community members and businesses contribute to the event. “It’s a big partnership there, and then it’s all about the kids having fun and just seeing us in a different atmosphere as well, instead of just seeing us as authority figures.”
Smid added that 13 female athletes from St. Paul Regional headed to Toronto to compete at the Nike High School Grand Prix over the weekend, six of which took part in Tuesday's road race.
“We've been working hard and I think we're going to be ready,” he said following the road race, adding training was difficult as the team has only had one chance to practice outdoors. “We've done the best that we can with the weather that we've had, and we're just excited for the opportunity. The girls, I know they're going to give it their best in their competitions, and that's what they have to go by.”
St. Paul Regional Grade 12 student Nicole Kitt, who has been a part of every RCMP Road Race since she started in Grade 7, said Tuesday’s road race was a fun way to stay loose before heading to the Nike High School Grand Prix.
“It’s a fun race I find. There’s not that much stress put onto you,” she said, adding she was looking forward to competing in Toronto. “I hope just to do my best. It’ll be a good experience, the whole thing. I’ve never been to Toronto. I think it’ll be a fun weekend and I’ll try to run my hardest."
See next week's issue of the Journal for local coverage of the Nike High School Grand Prix.