MEDICINE HAT, AB – Sprinters, hurdlers, and long-distance runners meeting over the weekend at the Family Leisure Centre in search of ribbons and record times.
The Medicine Hat Panthers Track and Field Club held their annual 2018 Indoor Classic event, showcasing some of Medicine Hat’s fastest athletes.
Panthers member Carter McLean took home gold in the 150 metre division and said it’s a thrill whenever the starting gun goes off.
“I feel the rush and I like how I can go fast and stay neck and neck with people.”
This was the second annual Indoor Classic, featuring racers as young as five years old getting into the sport.
Growing to over 80 participants in the past year, organizers were able to add more age brackets and events such as the 3,000 metre class.
Club president Darryl Smith said they’re attracting runners from both Medicine Hat and the surrounding areas to the meet.
“We're not just getting our club members involved, there's people coming in now outside of our club that are trying this,” said Smith. “And then now, that's also boosting our numbers as a result of that.”
McLean is one of those new members, joining the Panthers as a way to improve his speed on the gridiron with the Medicine Hat Peewee Roughriders.
“I was trying to get better at running and my form better,” said McLean. “My coach said to join the Panthers track team, so I could get faster and get better form.”
According to Smith, it’s a growing trend among school-aged kids looking to increase their quickness on the ice, court, or field.
“Every school has a good cell of athletes and we're not just getting the number, it's the quality,” he said. “And, a great example is Sage Watson.”
A former member of the Panthers, Watson finished in sixth place in hurdles at the 2017 World Track and Field Championships, and just broke a 30-year-old Canadian record in the 300 metres in New York.
“It was just really exciting to cross the line and look up, and see that I had actually broken it,” said Watson. “It was just the icing on top of the cake that weekend.”
Young racers like Jeroen Lawson are taking inspiration from Watson, seeing it’s possible to eventually compete on the world stage.
“It makes us think, 'Hey maybe when we're older we can do more important things like maybe go to the Olympics, which are happening right now.'”
Entering his 14th year with the Panthers organization, Smith said it never gets old watching a runner give everything they have to cross the finish line.
“To see people cheer on kids that are completely and utterly gassed at the end of the race, and you see their smile because they put out that effort, it's pretty amazing to see that.”
The indoor season will continue for the next six weeks, before the Panthers move their athletes outdoors to begin training in April.
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