Runners are preparing for the upcoming 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup, held for the first time on Langford’s Bear Mountain in February. (Photo by Pan Am Cross Country Cup)

Cross country runners prepare for world class Pan Am Cup on West Shore

Victoria master runner trains for international event on Bear Mountain

One of Canada’s top master runners is preparing for a world class run, right here on Island soil.

Victoria runner Craig Odermatt is running in the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup, a race event by the Association of Pan-American Athletics championships. Held every second year, the cross-country event attracts teams from Pan American countries to compete in men’s and women’s senior and junior races. In 2018 the Pan Am Cup was held in El Salvador, and a successful bid by the Victoria International Cross Country Association (VICCA) is bringing the competition to Vancouver Island – and Canada – for the first time, with Bear Mountain playing host to eight races this February.

READ ALSO: West Shore lands Pan Am Cross Country Cup

Along with four standard Pan Am Cup races, the 2020 event will include a a Pacific Northwest Youth Cup (for high school-aged runners), a kids’ race, an open mass participation recreation race and a five-kilometre North American Masters Cup – the race Odermatt is training for.

He expects to race alongside former Olympians and members of national teams.

“The distance isn’t as much a challenge as the speed,” he says. “For cross country it helps to do some specific training.”

Odermatt has been running almost his whole life and has picked up a string of medals along the way – one of the most recent was a gold medal win for a 15-kilometre race in Maui. Odermatt was a masters medalist for nine years in a row at the BC Cross Country Championships and took home gold in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He ran for Team BC in the Canadian Cross Country Championships for ten years and in 2015, won the Canadian Cross Country title and the overall open title for the Island Road Race Series. He was also the Masters Island Series champion in 2016.

Victoria master runner Craig Odermatt has numerous running titles under his belt, including the 2015 Canadian Cross Country Champion. But now the runner is preparing for the masters race at the upcoming Pan Am Cross Country Cup, held in Vancouver Island – and Canada – for the first time ever this February. (Photo Courtesy of Craig Odermatt)

But in the last month or so Odermatt has been preparing for a new challenge. He’s begun incorporating grass running and hills into his training as the 2020 Pan Am Cup draws closer.

The master runner is looking forward to participating in a world-class event right in his own backyard. In fact, Odermatt says in high school he often trained near Bear Mountain and around Langford.

“It’s fun for sure, this is one of the routes I got going on in high school,” he says. “To be in your own area, have your family come out not have to worry about time issues is great.”

READ ALSO: Victoria to bid for World Cross-Country Championships

Odermatt is excited about the community, kids and youth races added to the event – something he hopes will help more people get interested, involved or feel included in the cross country running world.

“They’re making it more of a community event, trying to give an outlet for multiple people to be part of it,” he says.

The 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup comes to Bear Mountain on Feb. 29. In a statement, VICCA committee member Bob Reid says an “experienced and conscientious organizing team” is working to ensure the event will be successful and supported by running groups across the Island.

“It is the first step in showcasing Victoria’s ability to stage a first-class cross country event to the world in hopes of applying for the World Cross Country Championships in 2023.”

For more information on the Pan Am Cross Country Championship, visit panamxcup2020.com.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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