Almost everyone in Canada has at least done a cross country race in their lifetime, most likely in elementary school. But some take it to a new level, participating in cross country events of their own free will.
Grade 8 student, Ashton Chretien, of Peter Skene Ogden (PSO) Secondary School has done just that. The young runner qualified for the provincial tournament on Nov. 2, where he placed 77th out of 281 in the Jr Boys section (students from Grade 8 to 10). Chretien shows great promise in his future in his high school running career, also finishing 11th out of all Grade 8 boys.
“That was pretty good. I wasn’t that nervous or anything but it was scary just because there were so many kids there,” said Chretien.
While he was a Grade 7 student at the 100 Mile Elementary School, he came in first place during one of his events, which led to him joining the high school team.
“I just did really good in elementary, so I just wanted to try it out,” he said, though he added that he was “kind of just forced to do it” while in elementary school. “I figured I might just be good at it. I play soccer a lot.”
When Chretien is looking for some inspiration, he finds them in movies about runners.
“Most of them are based on true stories, so it’s always pretty cool,” he said.
His favourite one is McFarland, starring Kevin Costner as football turned cross country coach at a high school in the titular Californian community. The runners on the team are mostly from disenfranchised Latino families.
“It’s just an inspirational movie.”
Chretien plans on being involved in the PSO cross country team all the way until he graduates, however his aspirations are a little more focused on soccer.
“I want to be a professional soccer player, so I practice a lot like at home and other activities through school or other coaches,” he said.
He was part of the school’s soccer team but is not anymore. He said he was busier with other activities and his parents were a little worried about him getting hurt, due to the other players being much bigger than him. He said he will join the team in the future provided he grows a little more. For now, he plays for the 100 Mile House Soccer Association’s (OMHSA) under-14 rep team.
“I’m a forward, usually,” he said. “I think it’s a very fun sport and I’ve always been good at it. It’s kind of natural.”
Chretien said his favourite teams were Spain’s Barcelona and Italy’s Juventus. He said he doesn’t watch a lot of soccer on TV but when he does, it’s those two teams.
His favourite players are Barcelona’s Leo Messi, former Barcelona player Ronaldinho, Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar (also formally of Barcelona) and Kylian Mbappé.