General Lalonde, deprived of his chance at the 3-peat cross-country national championships, to run his own race

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For Gen Lalonde, part of the appeal of long-distance running is the unexpected, which cannot be said about the 3,000-meter steeplechase, his flagship event.

“I know there will be 35 barriers and some of them will not have water,” she said. “I usually know what the pace will be, but in cross country I have no idea. It can be anyone’s day. “

Lalonde, the reigning two-time senior female champion, was hoping Saturday would be her day for a third straight year at the Canadian Championships, but the event – scheduled at Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford, B.C. – was canceled in August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, she’s planning her own version of cross-country this weekend – running a 10-kilometer time trial solo.

This will be the Moncton, NB native’s last attempt to emulate a “normal” year as the Canadian record holder did not participate in a steeplechase race during the summer.

“I did an 8 km time trial a few weeks ago which would have coincided with the [B.C.] provincial championships, ”said Lalonde, who moved to Victoria from Guelph, Ont., in January and married elite Canadian triathlete John Rasmussen in September.

“It gives me goals [strive for] since I haven’t run since February and simulates pre-race nervousness [for] when I walk the line for real. ”

Line up for a tough race in Abbotsford on Saturday and watching the cross-country running community come together to celebrate the sport is something the French Radio Victoria host says she will miss.

“The National Cross Country Championships are all about running, having fun and doing your best,” said the 10k champion at the 2020 Pan American Cross Country Cup in Victoria. “You never know how the race is going to go, so part of the fun is being ready for anything. “

WATCH | General Lalonde runs for Pan-American steeplechase gold:

Geneviève Lalonde won gold in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, setting a Pan Am Games record. 0:29

Looking back, the path to victory each of the past two years couldn’t have been more different.

‘Rewarding to come out with the win’

“In Kingston [Ont.], my goal was to run with Natasha Wodak, as long as I could, “said Lalonde of her 2018 race plan on the famous Fort Henry course.” I knew she had dominated the cross-country scene. country and that she was a serious runner. She’s really strong, consistent and knows her pace, so I knew if I ran with her I would have a good chance of winning a medal.

“I started to break with the [lead] group and I knew that I had gained momentum and that I was having so much fun. Joel [Bourgeois], my trainer [behind the scenes], was the coaching [at] Laval University at the time and running around the course.

“I remember he said, ‘Well done’ and I remember smiling and waving,” continued the 2016 Olympian. “I knew I still had work to do – I think he I still had two kilometers to go – but I knew that by then I had worked a lot and it was so rewarding to achieve a victory.

“Last year at Abbotsford was very, very different. After only a month of training after taking time off from a long season on the track, I knew it was going to be tough, but I had no idea how tough a 10k could be. It was a constant pounding and [eventual second-place finisher] Sarah Inglis was relentless. Maria [Bernard-Galea] was right behind us and there was going back and forth.

“The three of us were in full swing and a kilometer to go, [my primary coach] Hilary [Stellingwerff, from the University of Victoria] looked at me and she said, “Go all the way. I didn’t know if I would. I was able to [pull out] victory but it was definitely the hardest race I have ever done. ”

Unsure when and where her next race will be, the 2019 Pan American steeplechase gold medalist recently tried to mix things up in her training – running tracks and obstacle practice on the track and long muddy hills. – to keep things fun and prepare her for all racing conditions.

“I’m currently focusing on constant base mileage,” Lalonde said, adding that if she were to compete indoors in January and February, it wouldn’t go over a race or two. “In the coming months, I will gradually move from road and trail running to track.

“The focus will be on hosting the Olympic Games [next] summer and being ready, happy and healthy come then. Crossing the finish line in Tokyo is where we want to be. ”

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