Local runner Hannah Woodhouse finished sixth at the Ontario University Athletics Cross Country Championships in Hamilton Oct. 26 and is now headed to nationals Saturday in Kingston.
The Heathcote native finished the 8-km course in a time of 28:29.2, leading the Guelph Gryphons team to a second-place finish in the provincial competition.
Seven racers from each qualifying school will line up to race at 2019 U Sports Cross-Country Championship with the top-5 finishers counting toward the team’s final score.
Lucia Stafford (University of Toronto) won the OUA championship race with a time of 27:20.2 while the Queen’s Gaels finished as the top school in the event with a combined time of 2:22:41.
This will be Woodhouse’s fourth year making it to nationals as part of the Gryphons’ cross country team. As a rookie, she contributed to the university’s 13th-straight women’s national title.
Her running career started in earnest when a Grade 8 gym teacher saw some potential as she volunteered to run the “long loop” around the community.
“I think he saw some determination and some will to run in me, so he took me to a couple of meets and that’s when I realized, oh, running, I thought it was just a part of all the other sports,” she said.
Back at the Woodhouse dairy farm, she started timing herself during chores.
“I would time myself how long it takes to go and fetch the cows at the top of the hill to bring down for milking,” she said. “We lived at the bottom of that hill, so I ended up doing some hill training.”
The family’s farm pushed Woodhouse even further into the life of a cross-country athlete when the prize for finishing in the top-5 of a local race was chocolate milk.
“I want that chocolate milk,” Woodhouse remembers thinking. “It was the best chocolate milk. They (her parents) kind of bribed me. They didn’t think I would be able to do it, but I went out there and finished fourth.”
From there she joined the Meaford Coyotes track team before taking off on a stellar high school career.
“I never really looked back at anything but running” she said.
The Georgian Bay Secondary School graduate raced in the 2015 World Junior Cross Country Championship in China and won gold at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in 2014 finishing the six-kilometre course in a time of 22:22 at Jerico Beach Park to win the junior girls race.
“I really didn’t know I could be passionate about something like running, it showed my determination,” she said. “It really helped me in my academics. My grades went way up from public school, and it was because, I think, just learning how to effectively manage my time.”
She was awarded the prestigious President’s Scholarship at Guelph for academics.
After nationals, Woodhouse plans to travel to British Columbia to compete with Guelph’s Speed River Track and Field Club at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships in British Columbia before returning for the university’s indoor track and field season.
She’ll graduate with a year of university eligibility left, and plans to return to the University of Guelph for a two-year master’s program in dairy nutrition.
“I could, depending on my schedule, come back and complete,” she said. “I’m definitely not done running. I would like to make some more national teams and travel, and just see where the sport can take me.”
Woodhouse set the women’s 10-kilometre record in the Subaru Bayshore Race in Owen Sound this past Summer crossing the finish line in 35 minutes, nine seconds.
She holds two of three women’s records at the event, including the 5-km record which she set in 2014 with a time of 17:11.