Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Competition will be fierce for the MacEwan Griffins women's cross-country team at the Sun Dodger Invitational in Seattle this Saturday.
Not only will the Griffins face a good test going against NCAA competition, the jostling for positioning off a crowded start line figures to be a challenge.
That's exactly the reason why head coach Drew Carver wants to attend the meet.
"That's the main purpose is just to get the athletes into that fast turnover in a thick crowd for racing," he said.
"It's good for the athletes to get into a race that will be a little bit quicker. They should be able to handle the pace and now they've got to handle the crowd because there should be anywhere from 150 to 250 on the start line."
That will be the best simulation for the upcoming conference championship in Calgary later this month and, should they qualify, the U SPORTS nationals next month.
"That will simulate what you'll get at Canada West," said Carver. "Hopefully this tunes them up really well, so they realize this is what you have to do."
MacEwan will be sending its top four female runners – Kiana Row, Emma Steele, Ashley Tymkow and Ember Large – to Saturday's 5K event. Since they're racing on back-to-back weekends after doing a 6K in Victoria last Saturday, training has been scaled back to keep them fresh.
"Their workouts this week have been adjusted for the fact they're racing back to back," noted Carver. "And they'll go to a third race next weekend at Augustana. So, they'll get three races in row."
Each one is designed to provide a piece of the puzzle they'll need for the Canada West championship on Oct. 26.
"Victoria was good, but with the thin number on the start line … and it was a quality start line … once you settled into your spot, it was tough to pass because everybody was single bodies racing along," said Carver. "There was no real incentive to pass anybody unless they were totally dying. In Seattle we'll expect to see athletes making a pace change halfway through the race.
"If all goes well, they will see some quality runners and they'll have to learn to race in a fast crowd."