Tomslake’s Fiona Benson is the Canada West University Athletics Association cross-country champion following her performance this past weekend at the 2012 CIS Championships in London, Ont.
The third-year Trinity Western Spartan was the top Canada West finisher at the Canadian Interuniversity nationals with a fifth overall placing in the women’s 5K run.
Benson posted a time of 17:35, just 13 seconds behind race-winner Andrea Seccafien of Guelph.
“I was thrilled with the race this last weekend,” Benson told the Dawson Creek Daily News. “It was one of those races that reminds me of how much I love running.”
Benson entered the nationals hoping to improve on her placing at the championships in 2011, and did so in a big way. She finished in 48th spot last year in Québec. And bounce back from what she considers a disappointing 2012 campaign.
“I had a poor race at CIS nationals last year, and also a rough start to this cross-country season, so I was excited when the training really picked up a few weeks ago and I felt like I could give this race a good go,” she said.
Benson got an early jump on the field and at the mid-point of the race held second place, only to drop back three spots.
“I had a good start, I was able to settle into the race and in the end I think I gave it everything I had for the day- so all in all, it was a great finish to the university circuit,” said Benson.
To go along with her Canada West championship, Benson earned Canada West Female Athlete of the Year and CIS First Team All-Canadian honours, becoming the second Trinity Western cross country student-athlete ever to be named an All-Canadian, and the first to be named to the CIS First Team.
Benson’s finish at nationals helped the Spartans place fourth in the Canada West women’s team standings. It is her second year running for Trinity Western and says it is a young program that is rebuilding.
“We're a much younger team, but the team experience is definitely one of the things I love about Trinity with great coaches and great teammates. It's motivating and fun and you can push each other a lot harder,” said Benson, who has one race left for the season.
Benson will race at the Canadian Cross Country Championship Nov. 24. The race is open to all competitive runners, upping the stakes for Benson.
“This will be my first year competing on the senior circuit, so I'm looking forward to seeing where I stand in that league,” said Benson.
The Canadian Championship is used as part of a selection process for the national team that will travel to Trinidad and Tobago for the North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Championships in March.
Although she says it was not a good season overall for her, Benson has two other top-five finishes this year. She began the university series with a fourth-place standing at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, WA, with a time of 22:16:13 in the 6K run, and at the BC Cross Country Championships, last month, was the top student in the senior women’s division capturing the bronze medal.