On the day we left for Winnipeg, Mother Nature seemingly foreshadowed our trip by dumping (a slightly terrifying) five centimetres of snow to the Victoria area. A subtle reminder of the weather we would soon see at the Canada West Indoor (thank god) Track Championships.
For someone who grew up in Vancouver, and runs in long sleeves, long tights, and gloves in +10 degree weather, I was terrified of the notorious Winterpeg weather. Yes, even though the meet would be held indoors, I was scared of potentially walking from the car to the track in something like -40 temperatures.
Nonetheless, my fears would be eased as the weather in Winnipeg was a ‘balmy’ -7.
So, after months of training we arrived focused and prepared to have a successful weekend at Conference.
And boy did the Vikes bring home the hardware.
The Men’s and Women’s teams combined to bring back eight medals, with four of them being gold highlighted by the Men’s 4x800m relay team setting a new Canada West Conference record time.
That feeling of jubilation, of exhilaration, in watching countless hours of hard work pay off in a big way is hard to describe. I was so thrilled for my team members to have successful races, as I have had a front seat view to the numerous reps and repeats on their way to glory.
Running is so much of an individual sport, but at the same time a team sport. This is highlighted even more at Conference championship meets like the one this past weekend.
For me the highlight of the trip was running down to lane two, screaming and yelling at the relay teams on the track. Some of my teammates even went so far in taking their shirts off, and swirling them like crazed lunatics to pump up the runners on the track.
The thing that makes our track team unique from other teams is how small we are. At UVic we focus primarily on middle to long distance running, so we don’t have any field or sprint members. This makes our team considerably smaller than other schools, and gives us a harder chance to win team titles at Conference since we can’t score points in field or sprinting events.
However, it also makes the team feel like a family.
Yes, like a family, there can be times of conflict. (Which can be made worse when you’re stuck in the Calgary airport for seven hours on the way back from Winnipeg, because you missed your connecting flight back to Victoria, but I digress.)
But in the long run, the unconditional support I have seen on this team makes me proud to be a part of this specific group. In my life I have been on countless teams: from football in middle school, to basketball in high school, and I have never been around a team like this.
Now, I don’t want that to be a slight to those other teams, as I frequently stay in contact with my high school basketball friends and jump in for a game of pick-up whenever I can. But, in regards to this team, I have never been a part of one that is so supportive of each other, full of energy, and just a nice overall group of people to be around.
So, I find it ironic, that in this ‘individual’ sport of running, the best and most supportive team I have been a part of is this one here at UVic.
Although this is only my second year at UVic, I feel like I have known everyone on this team for years and feel lucky enough to call them my friends.
We come from all corners of the country, and I have always thought big picture if I had never met any of these people at university. I shudder at that thought. They are always there to pick me up when I’m down, and I feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded by an amazing group of not just athletes, but friends.
Especially when I personally battled with personal struggles, and mental health issues, I have never been around a group of people that are so willing to help. If I’m down or appear to be sad, I have never received so many texts asking if I’m doing ok, or need to talk. This may seem like a small thing, but it is the reason I feel so lucky to be a part of this team.
On this team, I have felt like I’ve developed a bond unlike any other. A bond that extends from just training partners to lifelong, loyal friends.
I feel lucky that at this point in my life at university, where I (like so many other university students) are figuring out who they are and what they want to do in life, to have found an amazing group of people to grow with.
Don’t forget to cheer on the Vikes March 10, and 11th at the U Sports Track Nationals in Windsor!