Grade 12 PSO student placed seventh in cross-country provincials

Brandon Balbirnie had a top 10 finish in Kelowna running against 230 competitors

Brandon Balbirnie

100 Mile House athlete Brandon Balbirnie had a great showing in the provincial Cross-country Running Championships in Kelowna on Nov. 5

Balbirnie, who was representing Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School (PSO) in 100 Mile House, finished seventh overall in the Grade 11-12 division.

“It was a pretty good race overall,” he says.

More than 230 senior boys competed in the 6.5-kilometre race on a cross-country ski trail, he adds.

“The course was really good. The rain held off until after the race, and even though there was a lot of foot traffic, the trail held up well.

“There was some mud in some spots, but it wasn’t too muddy overall.”

Balbirnie explains the trail had four big uphill climbs and then a long, gradual downhill.

The Grade 12 student notes he had a different strategy than he took at the Zone Finals in Quesnel where he sprinted to the front and set a pace that took him to a first place finish.

“Before the race, every coach didn’t want their runners starting too quickly. They didn’t want us to burn out because we were going into an uphill pretty quickly.”

It was a slow start because nobody sprinted, but Balbirnie says he got out to the front fairly quickly.

“I started slower off myself, so going into the bottle neck I was about 30th. Then I passed a huge group because no one wanted to go into a rough patch [rocks and ruts] and I managed to get into the front with four other runners.”

He adds they were running in groups of four and five throughout the race.

“We had spread out a bit when we got close to the finish. I could see the guy in front of me, but I couldn’t see anyone behind me.

“I was satisfied, but I would have liked to have done a little bit better. I mean who wouldn’t?”

Balbirnie is graduating this year and he’s mulling over what he’s going to do next.

If he goes to college and someone wanted him to run, he says, he would run again.

However, he really prefers refereeing hockey.

“Yes, I take it pretty seriously, so who knows what will come of that.”