Muskoka Algonquin Runners shine in provincial championships on home turf

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Main photo: MARS Bantam Girls (from left) Mya Marshall, Clara Pringle, Laura Yungblut, Haley Clarke, Nadia Parsons, Chloe Punkari, and Eve Carreau

For the first time ever, the Athletics Ontario Cross-Country Championships made their way to Muskoka on November 12 and the local running club, Muskoka Algonquin Runners (MARS), showed the rest of the province what they were made of.

MARS had bid to host the race twice in the past but were unsuccessful. “They don’t usually award the bid to small towns,” noted club president Pierre Mikhail. To help make their third attempt successful, Mikhail enlisted the help of FITT Events, which runs Band on the Run and the Muskoka Kids’ Tri.

For Mikhail, it was important to host the event in Muskoka for the exposure it gives local runners of all ages to the sport. “I love running and I think cross-country is a really great sport. It’s a really amazing experience for the kids we see in our primary school race to get to compete and also get to see runners of all ages from Bantam all the way to 70-year-olds running.”

MARS sponsored the top eight grade 7/8 runners from the Hoya Hills race so that they could have free entry at the provincial championships. “It cost us about eighty dollars per kid. They were pretty excited because they felt like they had qualified for this race.”

Mikhail noted that it was also a great experience for local high school runners to experience that level of competition and also see their coaches compete. One of them — Cameron Heinz — placed 13th in his age category, “an amazing result”, said Mikhail.

The largest MARS contingent at the championships was the Masters category. Twenty-four runners competed with some stellar results. Two women — Lavinia Carreau in the 30-39 group and Helen Dempster in the 45-49 group — were provincial champions, as were the Men’s 40-49 team. Chris Watson came third overall in the Masters category, and all of the women’s teams entered — 30-39, 40-49, and 50-59 — came second. (See the full MARS results below.)

All photos courtesy of Pierre Mikhail

When it was all done, Mikhail was pleased with how the event turned out. “I thought it was the best Athletics Ontario course I’ve ever been on. Often they are on golf courses or in little parks, and I think people found this course challenging and scenic. Some were overwhelmed by some areas of mud, but real cross-country isn’t run on grass in my opinion.” The race was held at Morrison Meadows in Bracebridge. Almost 900 runners competed.

And Mikhail gave kudos to FITT Events for their organization of the event. “I think Rob, Justine, and Melissa did an amazing job putting the race together. It was a lot of work. Although we helped, they definitely were the organizers and I thought they did a great job. On race day it was executed perfectly.”

Masters 5k
3 Chris Watson 17:00
16 Jeramie Carbonaro 17:48
18 Troy Cox 18:01
23 Mark Sinnige 18:13
33 Don Gallagher 19:01
37 Lavinia Carreau 19:13
38 Robert Carreau 19:13
41 Tony Marra 19:34
42 Helen Dempster 19:43
67 Pierre Mikhail 21:37
69 Jennifer Nicholson 21:41
73 Kirsten Jewell 21:46
74 Brian Gray 21:46
80 Andre Boudreault 21:59
81 Dave Johnstone 22:06
94 David Bialkowski 22:52
95 Darla Coles 23:00
99 Jessica Sheppard 23:18
114 Kim Russel Brooks 24:49
115 Martina Morton 24:51
121 Tracy Marshall 25:58
122 Nancy Edson 26:08
123 Catherine Smith 26:17
124 Kirstin Thomas 26:22

Senior Men 10K
35 Brian Moore 37:20

Youth Girls 5K
89 Madeline Horton 25:42

Youth Boys 6K
64 Judah Meaker 22:49
66 Owen Johnstone 22:51
97 Jakob Heinz 25:57
99 Matthew Ouellette 26:28

Midget Girls 4K
33 Fiona Shearing 17:20
73 Angeline Carreau 18:37
78 Sophia Marshall 18:57
88 Emma Punkari 19:19
93 Emma Elliott 19:37
104 Sally Franks 20:28

Midget Boys 4K
13 Cameron Heinz 14:23
106 Elias Coles 17:24
115 Sebastian Horton 20:10

Ready, set...

Ready, set…

Bantam Girls 2K
20 Eve Carreau 8:36
36 Chloe Punkari 8:59
52 Clara Pringle 9:20
61 Laura Yungblut 9:33
64 Nadia Parsons 9:46
65 Haley Clarke 9:47
67 Mya Marshall 9:54

Bantam Boys 2K
31 Miles Carreau 8:15
49 Charlie Maslin 9:32
51 Curtis Mayka 9:43
56 Ewan Pengra 11:26
57 Dominic Veitch 12:43

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