Looking back 5 years to 2011 when I first met Jamie (my current coach), I don’t think either of us could have predicted the rapid growth and evolution of an athlete that has unfolded before our eyes. Together, we worked and improved, then became smart and focused, then worked harder and improved more. Jamie helped me find this fire within that I never knew was there, a fire that has led to many great accomplishments. The team won an ACAC XC Championship, we represented SAIT at two CCAA National Championships (Kamloops and Montreal), we ran a half marathon in 2012 then improved that by 10 minutes in a year and a half, we have broken the 15 minute 5K barrier/24 minute 8K barrier/30 minute 10K barrier/1:05 half marathon barrier, qualified for the world half championship, represented Canada at the World’s Best 10K, won the Alberta XC Championship (individual), and even brought together a city/community/nation with one single event being the Run for Boston. Knowing him, he’ll say this was all me, but this is me giving him 95% of the pie.
Heading into September, XC is in full swing. With my job at New Balance, Jeremy Deere, Travis Cummings, Ryan Russell and I have committed a lot of time towards the growth of running within the Calgary area, specifically high school cross country. Strides Running Store and New Balance continues to support every Calgary HS race through the 2016 season, including multiple workshops that will help educate kids the importance of “the little things”. This is the grassroots level that means a lot to all of us. HS sport in Calgary is dominated by Football, Hockey, and Basketball, so this initiative hopefully brings more excitement for those that are taking part in XC. I feel that HS XC is the starting point for all kids to enter the sport. It’s also complimentary to any team sport they may focus their talent towards. I realized this a few years ago, but Calgary has such a special running community outside of the HS/college years that some athletes will never experience.
Our community is diverse. We have the young guns at the track/XC level who have the potential to breakout if they remain patient and committed, we have the typical weekend warriors, we have the MitoCanada group that can warm your heart at any moment, we have a huge group of runners that want to make it to the Boston, then we have a ton of athletes that work full-time and run for the pure enjoyment of being with each other. That final group of athletes is what makes me define Calgary as such a special place. They’re the ones that will invite you over for dinner/out for breakfast on a Saturday morning at 7AM, they’re the ones that will call to simply say hi, they’re the ones that won’t only join you for a run but will also have their family join too on bike/in a child carrier/on leash, they’re the ones that can joke about pooping their pants on a trail run and not feel embarrassed, they’re the ones that get fired up about your results more than their own. And they’re the ones that will make leaving so tough.
As the news begins to spread, I wanted to be the first one to share it publicly. Over the past couple years, I’ve really valued balancing a work/life schedule. It has kept me down to earth, prevented me from “getting too deep in the game”, and it has given me perspective on life in general. Some people might look up to me for being so athletic while working full-time, but a time will come when you need to make a decision. 20 years from now, I want to look back knowing I gave 100% to chase my dreams. At any given point, life can throw you a curve-ball. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Even as I sit on this plane, it’s not guaranteed to land. We all hope for the best, but life is ruthless and it doesn’t care about what you hope for. The only things you can control are your actions and your passion, and if you have a passion, go for it. Everything else will play out. Although Calgary has been so good to me and the community will make it very hard to leave, in early 2017 I’m moving to Guelph, Ontario to join Speed River TFC.
So why Guelph? I have family within a 5 hour drive of the area, DST sold me on the community growth within Guelph, Eric Gillis spent quite a bit of time getting to know me over the past few months, there’s a group of young guys that have similar ambitions as I do, every athlete that I’ve met from SR instantly made me feel welcome, and I’m tired of September snowfalls in Calgary. As an athlete, I’m fully committed to being a part of the New Balance family for the duration of my career. The products are amazing and the faces behind the brand name are even better. Ever since school ended at SAIT, I’ve been training as an I with Jamie, so making this move allows me to get back into the WE with a group of guys that have the potential to make a big impact nationally and internationally.