Two Red Deer College cross-country runners are finishing up their seasons with much success.
Devin Woodland, 21 and Kieran McDonald, 18, both began running to get into shape for basketball years ago.
Woodland, a nursing student who someday hopes to work in India, decided to solely focus on running this year.
“I have been running my whole life, but I never really focused on it until I was in Grade 12 when I won provincials and I figured it was something I was good at,” he said, adding he grew up in Pakistan and was very active as a child. “I really wanted to play basketball, but didn’t get much playing time, so I decided this year I would just focus on running.”
Woodland said although he has always enjoyed running, it’s something in the last couple of years that he has really embraced.
“My dad thought I was good at it and pushed me into it and I always seemed to excel. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I embraced it when I realized I was good so I tried to get to enjoy it more,” said Woodland. “I think I have been given a gift with my running and I feel like if God has made me good with running, I might as well use the gift he has given me to glorify him and not just sit on the couch and waste it.”
For Woodland, this has been his best season yet.
“Kieran has helped a lot this year. It’s the first year I’ve ever had a training partner. And we both get better and can push each other,” he said.
McDonald, an engineering student, said he first got into running in Grade 10 but only on a competitive level about a year ago.
“I absolutely love running. It can be a great stress-reliever. I love competition and I enjoy trying to get better and do things faster,” he said. “I love pushing myself and it’s nice to have other people to train with as well like Devin.”
Last month McDonald placed fourth at CCAA Cross-Country Championships in Montreal.
“I was not expecting fourth at nationals at all. It was awesome.”
Over the course of the season there are four races. The top runners of those races all get ranked together into a Grand Prix and race in the ACAC Cross Country Running Championship. This year Woodland won that race which took place at the end of October in Camrose and McDonald finished second.
“The fact that Devin and I got first and second at provincials was the ideal thing that we thought could happen – it was great,” said McDonald.
This weekend the pair will head to Vancouver for their final race this season.
“I’m just excited to be in this race. Any place that I get will be awesome. I’m competing against world-class athletes so it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Woodland.
McDonald said for him, placing in the top 20 is an achievable goal, but he is hoping to earn a spot in the top 10 which would allow him to compete in the North American championships which could lead to the world championships.
“I’m not really planning on that but I also didn’t plan on getting fourth at the national level either, so you never really know.”
Next year, Woodland has his sights set high on what he would like to accomplish in terms of cross-country running.
“Seeing Kieran get fourth at nationals this year was pretty amazing. I know I can be up their with him, so I hope to have a good race at nationals next year and be in the top seven across Canada.”
As for McDonald, he will be attending the University of Alberta and hopes to not only garner a spot on that team but he hopes to be in the top 10 runners at the university championships in a few short years.