Christian Gravel and Rachel Cliff, both Vancouver Thunderbird athletes, competed for Canada at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on March 24th. Christian and Rachel qualified for the World's with impressive performances at the Canadian Cross Country Championships held at Jericho Beach on November 24th. As part of their National team commitment and their preparation for World's, they competed at the NACAC Cross Country Championships in Mandeville, Jamaica on January 26th.
The team traveled to Poland a week in advance for a training camp in Walcz. This allowed them to adapt to the time change and to get use to the unseasonably cold and snowy conditions in Poland. Both Christian and Rachel had great camps and were ready for a peak performance at World's. During the camp, the team prepared a "Harlem Shake" video that has received a great deal of attention on the internet.
Christian competed in the junior men's race and finished an impressive 57th place. His goal was to finish in the top 60 and to gain valuable international experience. Mission accomplished on both fronts! Christian will now turn his attention to the outdoor track and field season where he will attempt to qualify for the Pan American Junior Championships in Lima, Peru.
Rachel went into the race optimistic that a top 50 placing was a definite possibility. Her training had gone well and she raced well at NACAC and set personal best marks over 3000m and 5000m during the indoor season. Much like Christian, she was also looking to gain valuable international experience. Rachel ran an incredible race finishing in 25th position. In the process, she beat many seasoned international caliber distance runners that competed at the London Olympics. This will set her up well for some great races during the upcoming outdoor track season. She is planning on racing at the Mt. Sac Relays and the Payton Jordan Invitational with the hopes of hitting the qualifying mark for the World University Games (FISU) in Kazan, Russia.
Congratulations to both Christian and Rachel; you have made all of us at Thunderbird's very proud!
Footage from Christian's race: