Members of the RDC cross country team climbed Sulphur Mountain last week during training camp to prepare for the upcoming season. Their first race goes Saturday in Edmonton. (Twitter photo)

RDC cross country team geared up for 2017

When they lineup for their first race of the season, it will likely feel like a walk in the park for the RDC cross country team.

All summer long the majority of the RDC runners trained together and put down anywhere from 50-70 kilometres a week, including a recent training camp trip to Canmore. During the camp they also made an ascent up Sulphur Mountain in Banff.

The training camp was a combination of team building and workouts, one that will help exhaust the team heading into the first Alberta College Athletic Conference event on Saturday in Edmonton.

“We use these first few races to train through. They are going to be racing Saturday on tired legs. Came off a pretty hard training camp last week,” head coach Kari Elliott said.

“So I’m not expecting their best, that being said a lot of the other schools don’t train well over the summer. So sometimes you end up doing well those first few races.”

The women’s team was second best in the nation last season and hopes to carry that into the new year. They will be led by fifth year runner Jordanna Cota, the reigning RDC Female Athlete of the Year and ACAC all-conference selection Jill Stewart.For the most part, the women’s side remains the same with four of their top runners returning and that’s encouraging for Elliott.

“We’re looking strong. We’re coming into the season on a good kilometre base. Most of them are ready to go. It’s just fine tuning and injury prevention and getting them inspired. I don’t think that will be too hard, they are pretty stoked,” Elliott said

Janaya Gabre, 18 is one of those silver medalists from last year and in her second season with the team said she learned a valuable lesson about what she was capable of by making it to nationals.

“Just how much you can improve over the season. At the beginning I didn’t even think I had a shot at nationals at all,” said the second year Bachelor of Science, pre-medicine student.

“When I made the team and we made it to (nationals), I had a lot of fun. We came second so that was amazing, it was just an eye opener.”

Steve Rowley, 19, from Caroline is a marathoner hoping to make the transition to cross country. The first year kinesiology major said it’s been fun training with the team and he likes the potential for the upcoming year.

“It’s been going really well so far, we have a really great team here. I’m brand new to this but it’s going quite well,” Rowley said.

Rowley is part of a mix between returning and new runners on the mens side that Elliott hopes will have surprising season.

“We’ve got a bunch of new guys and I’m really excited. We’re looking to do well this year. Steven could be our top male this year, but Adam (Wass) is right up there,” Elliott said.

“Lot’s of young talent and multi-sport athletes that I think will do well if they stick with us for a couple years.”

RDC will also host Alberta College Athletic Conference provincial championship on Oct. 28.

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