Canada's trip to mountain running worlds had its share of bumps

Canada is fielding one of their most talented teams at the world mountain running championships in Premana, Italy on Sunday. But the team's trip across the pond didn't come without its share of bumps and bruises.

Airline loses team kits, supporter and Running Room employees come to the rescue

The Canadian mountain running team will be able to compete at this Sunday's world championships thanks to the help of some unsung heroes. (Pascal Gray/Canadian Trail & Mountain Running Association)

Canada is fielding one of their most talented teams at the world mountain running championships in Premana, Italy on Sunday. 

But the team's trip across the pond didn't come without its share of bumps and bruises.

The airline lost the Canadian squad's kits, leaving them without proper attire for the race and their baggage still hasn't been recovered.

Barring something miraculous, Team Canada wouldn't have had any kits for the race and technically wouldn't be able to compete. Organizers of the event were still willing to allow the Canadians to compete if they wore matching shirts.

However, they only had women's singlets and a few cotton T-shirts, meaning the men would have no choice but to re-wear the women's singlets or settle for the cotton T-shirts.

Neither option was ideal, as the women's singlets wouldn't have fit the men, while the cotton T-shirts would have become very sweaty, which would weigh the athletes down.

Saving the day 

Enter Marie Grenon, a supporter flying to Italy from Calgary for the championships.

The Running Room is Team Canada's uniform sponsor this year and so she went to her local store in search of one for herself.

The Canadian singlets were sold out at that location. In fact, there were none available at any stores in Calgary.

But Char Hoyem, a Running Room employee, was aware of the team's situation and saw an opportunity to help her fellow Canucks when she noticed that there were some in stock in Toronto.

Fortunately, Grenon had a layover in Toronto and after Hoyem contacted some of the stores, she realized there was enough time for another Running Room employee in Toronto to transfer the singlets to Grenon at Pearson Airport.

Brian Smith, a Toronto-based Running Room employee, notified Air Canada of the situation and they were happy to allow Grenon line bypass at security to ensure she didn't miss her connecting flight into Milan.

Grenon and Smith exchanged photos of each other and met outside of security at Pearson to drop off the singlets.

When Grenon arrived in Milan, she was greeted by a round of applause from the Canadian team.

What is mountain running?

Mountain running is a recognized sport under the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), the same governing body as track and field.

Races are either mainly uphill or include a combination of ascents and descents.

For mainly uphill races, the senior men run a total distance of 12 kilometres with an ascent of 1.2 km in length. The senior women and junior men run 8 km with an ascent of 800 metres. The junior women run 4 km with an ascent of 400 m.

For combination races, the total distance remains the same but the ascents and descents are shorter. The senior men run an ascent and descent of 750 m, the senior women and junior men run 500 m, and the junior women run 250 m.

Meet the team

A total of 15 athletes will represent Canada at the world championships — including a junior women's team for the first time in more than 10 years — with the top three finishers from the national championships each securing a spot.

Meggan Franks leads the senior women's team after successfully defending her title at the Canadian championships — more than one minute ahead of runner-up Adrienne Gomes.  

The Alberta-born, Mississippi resident hopes to build on that victory and finish in the top-20 at worlds.

Third-place finisher Chantelle Groenewoud and Adele Blaise-Sohnius round out the team.

On the senior men's side, it was Matthew Travaglini who prevailed at the national trials beating Gareth Hadfield by 43 seconds, followed by Alan Brett. Matt Setlack will also be joining the trio in Italy.

From left to right, Kieran Lumb, Ross Henderson, Austin Sutherland, Aidan Doherty, Matthew Travaglini, Allan Brett, Gareth Hadfield and Matthew Setlack of the senior and junior men's team are donning their brand new singlets. (Pascal Gray/Canadian Trail & Mountain Running Association)

Aiden Doherty topped the field in the junior men's race and Annika Austin was victorious in the junior women's race, clocking in the third fastest overall time amongst all women.

Austin Sutherland, Ross Henderson and Kieran Lumb make up the remainder of the junior men's team while Katia Lumb and Lea McCroy are the other two members of the junior women's team.

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