Ethan Duret was in a better situation than a lot of his counterparts when it came to training for his specialty — running track and cross-country running.
The 17-year-old Notre Dame student was able to train outdoors whenever he wanted, no matter the time of year and of course even when the indoor facilities were shut down because of the pandemic.
“Cross-country is nice in that you can train year-round as long as you’re healthy,” he said. “This past winter I was able to train outdoors whenever I wanted and it really helped build up confidence, muscle memory and just prepare to be ready to race once the season does get here.
“I’m so thankful for that.”
Ethan has missed some training because of an Achilles strain, but when healthy has been training with RDC cross country head coach Kari Elliott for much of the last year. He has since committed to join the team next season.
He was first approached by an assistant coach with the college about coming out, and “it couldn’t be better”.
“I trained with them all summer and was offered a scholarship in the fall, it’s something I was hoping for. In fact, I was hoping to get a scholarship to either the U of A or Red Deer.
“Then when Covid hit I really hoped it was RDC as I could stay at home if we happen to have online classes again it’s a lot easier.”
Duret believes he’s grown a lot as a runner just training with RDC and working with Elliott.
“She is the best coach I’ve had,” he said. “Because of the injury I haven’t trained as much lately, but she understands and is super supportive. She talks with me about making sure I’m ready and about what it’s like as a student and an athlete … what it takes to go to college and train and compete.”
Ethan will work on his business degree and plans on staying two years at RDC and then transfer to the U of A where he hopes to continue running.
“If it works out that way … we’ll see.”
It seems natural that Ethan would be a runner as it runs in the family. He was given his first running shoes when he was six by his grandmother, Olive, who got into the sport in her 30s.
‘She’s now 70 and still trucking it … she’s amazing,”
“My mom (Nicole) also runs as did my grandfather. so you could say it runs in the family,” he said with a laugh.
Duret ran in the Dawe run when he was in elementary school and had some success, which helped build his interest in the sport.
He attended a smaller french middle school and didn’t receive the recognition some of his peers did heading into high school.
But he made the Notre Dame track and cross-country teams, competing provincially in both in Grade 10.
He ran both the 1,500 and 3,000 in track, finishing in the top five. He ran cross-country in Grade 10 and 11, finishing in the top 20.
Elliott indicated Ethan has been on her radar for some time.
“I watched him train with some guys from the Titans Track Club and with us and being from Red Deer we’re delighted he signed. He has a great personality and is a hard worker and when he’s running his best he runs really well. We’re excited to get him.”
Duret will be part of an outstanding men’s team led by Daniel Szucs and Devin Saunders.
“I’m really excited about our men’s team,” said Elliott. “We were able to keep all our top talent and then add to that group with the likes of Ethan and a couple of international runners.”
Elliott said it wasn’t the time to talk about the international athletes as “you never know what will happen with our season and with the border situation and visas.
“It looks good, but we’ll see once they’re here.”
She did mention that one was from the States and the other was also a soccer player from Jamaica.
“I’ve been talking with the soccer coaches and we could be partnering on several players, which is exciting.”
The RDC women’s team lost several of their top runners in Shayla Skiaruk, Shayna Brower and Teagan Shapka.
“We’re going to be young, but I’m thrilled with the younger talent coming in. I won’t say we’re rebuilding as that undersells the athletes coming in. It may take a couple of years but they’re here for a reason, so you never know.”
Elliott, like Duret, is glad her sport allows them to train year-round.
“We’re totally fortunate we can do that. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the court sports or hockey where they can’t train.”
As for next season, the ACAC is putting together a schedule for cross-country.
“Things are looking up and we have a schedule, although it may start a week later than usual, but that’s fine,” said Elliott.
As for the nationals that will still have to be determined, but Duret is hoping they are a go.
“I’ve never been to a national championship and that would be eye-opening for sure … I’m pumped.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at email@example.com