Despite an injury and some unusually difficult racing conditions, Whistler Secondary teacher and Pemberton resident Kevin Titus reclaimed his national cross country running title at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Moncton last weekend after a years absence.
According to Titus, people had run over the 2,000 metre course while it was soft and it had frozen into a mass of footprints and lumps. Making it more difficult to pick out a route, it also snowed about three centimetres the night before the race.
"It was nothing compared to the Knee Knacker (50 km North Shore trail run), but compared to a typical cross country race, there were quite a few more lumps, more hills, and a few hydros, which made it a lot more challenging," said Titus.
The Masters category ran four laps of the course. Titus was leading the entire field after the first lap, when a foot injury he had been resting for the past few weeks flared up.
"I had it taped and everything, but after a lap or so it started to get pretty sore, and with the frozen lumps and everything it made it hard to go as fast as I wanted to," Titus said.
All things considered, Titus finished the 8 km race with a time of 26 minutes 34.31 seconds. That was good enough to win the 45 to 49 Masters age group, and finish second overall in Canada in the Masters category, which includes athletes as young as 35.
The overall Masters champion is Rob Lonergan from Hershey, B.C., with a time of 25:59.28.
"The guy who won was a very good runner," said Titus. "I dont know whether I could have beaten him (if I was healthy) but I think I would definitely have been closer to him."
Morgan Titus, Kevins son, was 32 nd out of 145 runners among the junior men. Morgan was fifth last year, earning a berth in the World Cross Country Championship.
"Morgan has been injured for the past month and has only been out running a couple of times. He wasnt expecting to do that well, but he would have liked to have done a bit better," said Titus.
Both Kevin and Morgan plan to return to the championships next year in Toronto.
"Its such a great trip, hanging out with the elite runners of the country. Its definitely something worth striving for," Titus said.