BRACEBRIDGE - One five-kilometre step at a time has led Bracebridge’s Natalia Hawthorn to the world cross-country championships in Poland.
BORN TO RUN..
From Ontario to British Columbia, to Jamaica and now on to Poland, Grade 12 BMLSS student and Team Canada member Natalia Hawthorn has run her way to the world cross-country finals coming up in March.
Photo by Neil Etienne
The Grade 12, Bracebridge Muskoka Lakes Secondary School student has just returned home from yet another successful 2012-13 season race in Jamaica where she captured 13th place overall in the junior girls division for the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association’s (NACAC) finals to earn the worlds berth as part of a Team Canada that finished first overall as a group.
“That was my first international competition; it was incredible to be part of Team Canada and be part of a group that’s all dedicated to running,” she said. “It was a lot to take in, the field (of runners) there was really competitive and I was like ‘whoa, I’m actually here’.
“Not to mention it was a pretty big shock to the system,” she added with a laugh. “When we left (for Jamaica) it was minus 30 here, but it was plus 30 there; I’ve never run in that kind of heat.”
Hawthorn earned her spot on Team Canada and in the NACAC finals in Jamaica by coming out in the top six eligible runners in a photo finish at Canadian national competitions held in British Columbia shortly before the New Year. The Jamaica race saw hundreds of competitors from across North America, Mexico and Central America vying to represent their countries at the worlds, being held in Poland, March 24.
Although slightly shorter than a traditional run for her 19 and under age group, the Jamaica race pit her against four kilometres of rolling terrain on a golf course near the country’s capitol, Kingston.
“I didn’t know much about (the terrain of) Jamaica; it was fairly rolling and a lot hillier than we thought it was going to be,” she said, adding although it was overcast the day of her Jan. 26 race, the heat was tough for the Canadian contingent used to running in the cooler fall and spring temperatures.
She said the team arrived in Jamaica the day before the race and was able to mingle a little with teams from other countries and see a few sights. She said in Jamaica, world-record holding Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is king and his image is everywhere.
“He’s big all over the world but there he’s just huge,” Hawthorn said, adding she was able to visit a restaurant he owns. “Fortunately they’re more into sprinting there too; cross-country isn’t their strongest races.”
Team Canada managed to earn first over all based on total points accumulated and Hawthorn herself ended up 13th overall in her division.
At the worlds, it will be a six-km race she’s faced with and will now set about picking up her training pace a bit to condition herself.
“It’s going to be a matter of building my endurance a bit for the race, especially with the longer distance and the level of competition we’ll be facing there,” she said.
Hawthorn will arrive about a week in advance of the races to acclimatize to the time difference and get a last push on training. It’ll also be a chance for her to get to know the Canadian cross-country team’s national coach a bit better, who also happens to be the cross-country coach at the University of BC, where she intends to go to school next year.