Nearly 1,000 high school athletes from across the province flocked to Colwood’s Royal Roads University on Saturday (Nov. 5) for a chance to take home gold at the B.C. High School Cross Country Championships.
The event has not been held on Vancouver Island since 2014, and in honour of its long-awaited return, a special course was set up on the grounds of Hatley Castle to allow the athletes and the coaches, family, and friends cheering them on, to compete with a spectacular backdrop.
“This may be the most stunning setting ever for a B.C. championships, with the vistas of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountain range and the beauty of Hatley Castle,” said course designer Jeff Hunt in a news release. “This will also be one of the most spectator-friendly courses as spectators will be able to cheer the athletes on over two creek jumps, multiple challenging corners, steep climbs, and a long straightaway for exciting finishes.”
Throughout the morning and early afternoon, thousands of spectators lined the course for races in the para athlete, junior girls, junior boys, senior girls and senior boys categories.
As the racers entered the home stretch set against the backdrop of the Esquimalt Lagoon, their fans would rush across the field to meet them at the finish line.
Ronan Weins of J. L. Jackson Secondary School in Salmon Arm took home gold in the para athlete category, Oak Bay High School’s Charli Mlotshwa won the junior boys race, Alexa Dow of Frances Kelsey Secondary School in Mill Bay won the junior girls race, while Tyler Browne of Oak Bay High School won the senior boys, and Ruby Broadbent of North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School took home gold for the senior girls.