By Elio Elia
The Ottawa Lions’ Ivy Bialowas and Anna Sierra Heffernan-Wilker returned to their usual spots near the top of the local cross-country running results chart at the Oct. 3 Capital XC Challenge, but the feeling was bittersweet for this pair of Grade 12 Glebe Collegiate Institute students.
After winning OFSAA provincial high school team gold medals in Grade 9 and 10, Glebe was 5th last year in a very tight contest – the Gryphons were just 9 points out of 2nd and 30 away from 1st.
“I was pretty disappointed (that high school races are cancelled) because last year was really challenging and I thought that I’d get another chance to race with my team,” indicates Heffernan-Wilker. “I’m really sad to have missed on that.”
Glebe’s senior girls had planned to bolster this year’s lineup with 2019 OFSAA junior girls’ 7th-place finisher Cara MacDonald, who placed 2nd at Capital XC Challenge behind race winner Bialowas and ahead of Heffernan-Wilker in 4th.
“This was probably going to be our strongest team yet,” signals Bialowas, who was hobbled by an ankle injury that struck the week before OFSAA 2019. “We would have a strong top-4 girls and were looking to medal and win, so it is pretty disappointing. It’s something we were looking forward to since Grade 9.”
The Glebe girls nonetheless enjoyed the opportunity to run at the Capital XC Challenge, even though Bialowas (Lions Black) and Heffernan-Wilker (Lions Red) were technically on rival squads for the event.
“We weren’t too concerned about the teams. We were just excited to race,” highlights Heffernan-Wilker, who would like to race for a university team next year like Bialowas. “It was more just fun to run together again.”
The Lions Red team of Isabelle Ngo, Heffernan-Wilker, Gillian Porter, Freya Hurst and Grace Munro occupied the 3rd through 7th-place positions to earn the team title.
Ngo, the Heat 1 winner, had not anticipated being in a leading position.
“I did not expect it to go like this because of my recent knee injury,” explains the Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School student. “I had not prepared at all because I did not think I’d be racing. I thought, ‘I might as well give this a shot’ and it went a lot better than I expected.”
Relatively new to running, the Capital XC Challenge was the first time Ngo crossed the finish line first.
“I was really shocked to win,” she smiles. “Well, I’m happy and shocked at the same time.”
Bialowas covered the 5 km course fastest out of 18 athletes in a time of 20:52.
Read more coverage on the 2020 Capital XC Challenge via: https://sportsottawa.com/2020/10/07/2020-capital-xc-challenge-coverage/