Cowichan’s Alexa Dow, 15, is speeding along the path toward her goal of one day making the Canadian National Team.
This fall, Dow won three gold medals in three different cross country championship races, solidifying her spot as the top female U16 cross country runner in British Columbia.
As part of the Frances Kelsey cross country team led by Karen Welwood, the tenth grader took the junior girls gold medal at the Vancouver Island High School Cross Country Championships held in Port Alberni on Oct. 19.
Her teammate Miles Powell also advanced to the BC Highshool Cross Country Championships, thanks to a strong showing at the event.
At the high school provincials, Dow won junior girls gold by beating 248 young women in her category, finishing her four-kilometre race in 15:33. Powell placed 41st of 234 in the senior boys category, finishing his 5K in a time of 17:27.
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.
Hunt called it “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.”
Both Dow and Powell had advanced to both the Vancouver Island and then BC Provincial High School cross country races after racing locally in the Cowichan Valley Cross Country Series where they both fared extremely well.
For Dow, her high school races bookmarked another race, this one with her club team, where she was also victorious.
On Oct. 22 — as a member of the Prairie Inn Harriers running club — Dow took the BC Provincial Cross Country Championship title for her age group in South Surrey. She finished the three-kilometre race in a time of 10:26:9, nearly 22 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.
Dow trains with her coach, two-time Olympic marathoner Bruce Deacon, and the Harriers youth racing team based out of Victoria.
With the cross country season now behind her for the year, Dow is starting to focus on her indoor racing season, which begins in February. Then she’ll be racing track and field through the spring and summer with plans to compete in the U20 Canadian National Track and Field Championships in Langley at the end of July.
If history repeats itself, records will be broken this spring and summer.
Last June, Dow won two gold medals at the BC High School Track and Field Championships in Langley by setting two new records at that meet in both the 800m and 1500m.
In the spring she also set three new U16 BC Provincial records in the 800m, 1200m, and 1500m — the 1500m record had previously stood for 27 years.
In July she took home three gold medals from the BC Summer games, setting two new records there as well for the 1200m and the 800m.
—With a file from Justin Samanski-Langille