It will be an exciting 9-day stretch for London Runner fans as they follow the 'Fantastic Five' in the first block of 2012 goal races. Five very different athletes, with one common goal: run fast!
First up will be the young up-and-coming Aaron Hendrikx, representing Canada on Saturday March 17th in the NACAC Cross Country Championships in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Hendrikx has been training hard with the acclaimed University of Guelph team over the winter to get ready for NACAC, along with the upcoming FISU (World University) Cross Country Championships, before making his bid to qualify for the World Junior Track & Field Championships this summer.
Local teacher Matt Suda, the blue collar hero of the London running scene, has put together an impressive block of training over the winter and will look to showcase his fitness on Sunday March 18th at the Shamrock Half Marathon, down in Virginia Beach, VA. While along in Virginia, Suda will be joined by LRDC teammates at future Half Marathons this year, most notably the Scotiabank Half Marathon in October - a major goal race for Suda and his post-collegiate teammates.
A trio of LRDC runners will toe the start line at Around the Bay on Sunday March 25th, with St. Thomas Masters stand-out Annette Barry the most experienced of the crew. Returning from a minor surgery earlier in the winter, Barry will put her best foot forward in the ATB 30k as she continues to inspire her student-athletes at SJSS, as well as in London.
Also in the 30k is Canadian 5,000m Champion Leslie Sexton, who will use the race as somewhat of a dress rehearsal for her fall Marathon debut. While Sexton will be looking to 'run her own race', she'll be keeping an eye on the clock in hopes of improving upon the best recent ATB result from a London athlete - an honour currently held by Lauren King, who ran 1:53:43 while representing London Runner back in 2007.
Rounding out the Fantastic Five will be 'lone wolf' Jeremy Walsh, who on March 25th will be attacking the ATB 5k with a vengeance as he looks to illustrate that his wind-aided Scotiabank 5k performance (and win) was no fluke. With a winter of consistent training under his belt, Walsh has taken sizeable chunks off his 3,000m PB and even took down a modest field at the Peterborough Half Marathon.
Aaron Hendrikx sums up the vibe of the group best in saying that he's "getting excited and confident in my fitness." It's exactly what LRDC head coach Steve Weiler wants to hear at this time of year. The winter training grind is at an end; the gloves are off and it's time to race!