Richelle Ramirez did not expect to be a contender.
But it was a cross-country tryout in grade 3 that led her on the path of OFSAA and leader for Notre Dame’s cross country team.
“At those tryouts I finished doing all the laps before all the guys and girls in my age group,” she said. “It made me feel pretty happy.”
With a little help from her brother Ryan, she trained hard and finished in the top 10 at Citys in her grade 8 year.
Now she’s running on both the cross and track teams.
Her coach Dawn Pearson lauds the grade 11’s determination as a well of inspiration for the junior team members.
“She’s not like a standout in the sense that some people on a team are gregarious,” she said. “She’s pretty quiet and she’s a very focused individual.”
Helping Ramirez is University of Toronto track trainer Terry Radchenko.
“She’ll bring that expertise to the club and I’ll get her to do the warm-up and give other people tips,” Pearson said. “She sets a goal for herself and work hard for it.”
Another source of motivation for Ramirez is a good friend she met in her freshman year, Grace Hill.
“When I went to Notre Dame and joined the team I thought I would be the fastest person there, but I actually met one of the other competitors from elementary school and she was faster than me,” she said. “She encouraged me to run faster.”
As for why Ramirez runs the country mile and also goes the distance in the 1,500-metre and 3,000-metre track events, she said it’s all about being zen.
“It’s kind of relaxing for me to run long distances even though it sounds pretty hard to do,” she said. “I enjoy running long distances and since I’m pretty good at it, I learn to like it.”
She’s got one more year of high school cross-country left, but Ramirez is starting to think about university.
Though there are some trials and trepidation.
“I’m still confused with what I’m going to do, but I plan to continue my running,” she said. “Because I’m in grade 11, and next year I’ll be in grade 12, I find it difficult to find time to train consistently because if I miss out I won’t get any better with my times.
“It’s basically homework and school pushing my running out of the way.”
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