Named in honour of a tenacious, decorated and inspiring Canadian sprinter who once owned the World Record with a 10.0 second 100m clocking in 1960, this year’s Harry Jerome Meet was no exception to the quality that is expected at Canada’s top meet. The perfect conditions, combined with strong fields and athletes primed to race resulted in a number of rousing performances.
The Canada Day meet was a “meet of momentum” as the performances continued to improve throughout the afternoon. Delighted with my own performance, I was not merely seeing the world through pink-tinted glasses – there were some fantastic performances in all the middle distance events. As usual, Flotrack did a great job of covering the races and interviews, which are all available for viewing on their site.
I was particularly delighted for Andrew Ellerton, who after struggling with a serious injury and a lot of races in the 1:46 range, had a “life changing” race. He pulled off a 1:45.04 clocking in the men’s 800m which was over a second better than his personal best and secured his spot for Worlds. When you watch somebody work hard and commit so much of their lives to the pursuit of excellence, it is so gratifying and inspiring to see things finally “click”.
After my race was over, I happened to be walking over the start line with Andrew as he was getting ready to race. I mentioned to him that it was obvious he had yet to run since he was wearing his “game face” (see my last Jitterbugs blog); he replied, “yes, it is about this time before every race that I swear this is the last time I am doing this”. I laughed because he is not the first to feel that way before competing. Since I was done and those thoughts were now long gone, I reminded him that it would be all worth it. And it was! Although I watched Andrew race and hold off a late challenger to win, I did not realize how well he had run until I saw his enormous grin cooling down. There is no feeling like getting an enormous personal best and achieving a goal that has been elusive for years; I suspect he had a well-deserved sleepless night of euphoria. It sure beats a sleepless night of depression following a crummy race.
While Andrew’s performance gets my “Most Inspired Athletes of the Meet Award”, I was also very excited to see a whole pile of women set personal bests in the women’s 800m. I think four or five girls had major breakthroughs, including SFU’s Jessica Smith who ran very close to B standard (2:01.54) and a major personal best. She is a beautiful young runner – and I am a bit nervous for when she starts racing the 1500m seriously to add to raising stars Sheila Reid and Kate Van Buskirk! But in the end, competition brings out the best in all of us, so bring it on.
Geoff Martinson was also spectacular with a 2 second PB and World B standard leaving him only one more B to achieve before being selectable to the National team as a rising star. It was also great to see Matt Lincoln and Peter Corrigan continue to chip away at seasonal and personal best respectively. Matt is coming off 2010 surgery and we all know how hard the comeback can be, so I look forward to seeing his improvements continue.
Although there were some amazing performances, I was disappointed to see Taylor Milne’s gutsy front running tactics not pay off for him yet. I hope he can get into a fast race in Europe with people to chase because he deserves a fast race after leading the last few races only to be overtaken in the final lap. He is a strong runner but it takes a lot more effort to set the pace from the front – but it is a vicious circle and he needs fast times to get into fast meets.
I don’t usually write post-race reports, but I would just re-cap that my race was a step in the right direction and I am excited and optimistic about my next couple races. I now have just less than two seconds to drop to achieve the World qualifying mark and it should come in the next month. As I explained to Flotrack in my post-race interview, my biggest goal going into the Harry Jerome was not time but to have a strong last 75 metres, so in that sense, my mission was accomplished. And as a born and raised BC-ite, winning the legendary meet in my home province has eluded me in past years so I am thrilled to finally be a Harry Jerome Champion!
I also got a kick out of Hilary Stellingwerff’s post-race interview as it was almost identical to a conversation I had yesterday regarding our longtime friendly rivalry. We are good friends and enjoy training and traveling together but once the gun goes we both what to get to the finish line first – not just to beat each other but as many others as possible too! We have helped each other out over the years with pacing duties and trading leads in efforts to get qualifying marks – and ultimately we would both be thrilled if we could be roommates at Worlds and Olympics this year and next.
Next up for me: taking on the super hot 800m women tomorrow at the Victoria Track Classic which will be a major shift in gears for me, before heading over the Europe on Monday. I do not have any 1500m confirmed yet in Europe but I will be ready, willing and keen to jump into a fast race as the opportunity avails itself. I will just focus on running the last 75 meter fast again and hope that the preceding 1425m keeps us on pace for an Andrew-like breakthrough!