Athletics High Schools

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Distance-runner Ivy Bialowas switches gears to prepare for University of New Brunswick

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

Read More in this series on Ottawa’s HIGH SCHOOL BEST here.

By Martin Cleary

The COVID-19 pandemic robbed Ivy Bialowas of her final two track and field and last cross-country running seasons at Glebe Collegiate Institute. But she’s resilient.

Ivy Bialowas. File photo

Although she was disappointed there were greatly reduced middle- to long-distance running opportunities as a senior, she simply switched gears to stay fit and maintain her focus to prepare for the university scene.

Instead of pounding the pavement day after day and stressing her legs, she found new, interesting and fun training methods. Bialowas discovered cross training through cycling, strength workouts and time trials.

“Yes, COVID has given me lots of free time,” Bialowas wrote in an email interview. “In the summer, I started getting into road biking for cross training, while I was dealing with some injury issues.

“Even now that I’m healthy, I still use it as part of my training and a way to pass the time. I have also used the time to focus on my weakness, doing some extra strength and physio work to prevent further injuries.”

Bialowas also found time to experiment in the kitchen and cook for her family. This skill will benefit her as she heads to Fredericton in August to study and compete for the Reds at the University of New Brunswick.

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UNB track and field and cross-country running head coach Chris Belof first saw Bialowas run in the women’s under-18 3,000 metres at the 2019 Youth Legion National Track and Field Championships in Cape Breton.

Future UNB Varsity Reds runner Ivy Bialowas. Photo provided

In early September 2020, Belof started to recruit Bialowas to head East for her intercollegiate experience. She liked his coaching philosophy and positivity during their phone calls.

Bialowas also spoke to several track and cross-country team members about the program, the university and Fredericton. She was thrilled with all aspects of the UNB business program.

“The main reasons I chose UNB were: smaller school (smaller class sizes, more connections with professors), the co-op program, the team atmosphere, the coaching staff and the beautiful trails/nature around campus,” indicated the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club athlete.

Bialowas added the track and field and cross-country running teams also are small, but have been growing over the past three years. Having a new indoor track in nearby Saint John was a regional perk for her as well.

“I felt that I would be able to make more of an impact in a growing program with training partners that will be able to push me in day-to-day training,” she continued.

A former competitive ringette player, Bialowas has used the 2020-21 season to dedicate to running only as she is “trying to stay as consistent with my training as possible and slowly increase my training volume.”

In her only significant competition this season, she easily won the girls’ under-18, six-kilometre race at the Eastern Ontario Cross-Country Running Championships in Brockville.

Read More: Their shot at OFSAA title dashed, Glebe CI senior girls dominate U20 women’s event
Glebe is recognized as a powerhouse in cross-country running and track and field on the Ottawa, regional and provincial scenes. And Bialowas played a major role in that success.

In her three cross-country seasons, she won two medals at the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association championships: second, midget, 2017; first, junior, 2018; fourth, senior, 2019.

Each year, she helped the Gryphons win NCSSAA age-group team titles as well as the overall girls’ championship. At OFSAA, she had two top-20 results, and three team titles (2017 novice, 2018 junior and overall girls).

In track, she won the NCSSAA and East Regional midget girls’ 1,500 metres in 2018 as well as the city junior girls’ 3,000 metres in 2019. Bialowas raced at the OFSAA championships both years, but missed qualifying for the finals.

Read More in this series on Ottawa’s HIGH SCHOOL BEST here.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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