qathet region runner Nelle Liefsoens recently won the title of BC female cross country runner of the year in the under-16 category.
The award was announced at the BC Amateur Athletics Association annual awards banquet in Richmond on February 4.
“I raced in a bunch of races last year and [BC Amateur Athletics] picked the three best racers,” said Liefsoens.
Liefsoens is 14 years old, in grade nine at Brooks Secondary School, and races in the under 16 category, so she runs against other competitors who are older, making her distinction all the more noteworthy.
The BC Athletics awards were based on two main events. One was the club provincials, which was held in Crescent Park in South Surrey. Liefsoens placed fifth overall in the race and second in her age group.
The other event was the BC high school provincials, held at Royal Roads University in Victoria. At this competition, Liefsoens placed sixth overall and first in her age group.
Liefsoens said she is a member of the cross country team at Brooks and also spends a lot of time running with her mother Inge Tholen.
Liefsoens said her cross country competitions are in distances such as three kilometres or five kilometres. The provincial competition was three kilometres in length. She said in order to participate in the event, she had to qualify in regional meets.
Liefsoens said she has been racing since she was in elementary school, participating in School District 47 cross country races. Typically, four such races are held each school year, with two in the fall and two in the spring.
“I did really well in those and it was really fun,” said Liefsoens. “I started in the track club and the cross country club in school and did pretty well.”
Her distances in track include 800 metre, 1,500 metre and 3,000 metre races. She said this year, she also wants to try steeplechase.
While the cross county club is inactive because it is out of season, the track club is starting again. Liefsoens said that training takes place at Timberlane track and there is also gym training at times. School training is three days a week and on weekends, Liefsoens runs with her mother.
“We go for runs together in the forest,” she said. “She [Tholen] did really well in an iron man competition that just came up and she loves running. That’s how I got into running in the first place. She inspires me.”
Liefsoens prefers cross country running to track events, indicating that the varying scenery and challenges of running on trails makes the events more interesting.
She plans to continue running through high school and she said that after graduation, she wants to run for a university. In the shorter term, she would like to go to the provincial meets again, so she has her sights set on the qualifying races.
“Hopefully, I’ll do well,” said Liefsoens. “I love running. It’s fun.
Nelle’s coach Graham Cocksedge said she is hardworking, highly motivated and tenacious.
“The award is well deserved,” added Cocksedge.
Liefsoens is now getting ready for the upcoming track season.