Teen runner takes to world stage

[attach]2001[/attach]Madeleine Davidson hopes the experience of competing for Canada will help her become a better runner.

Davidson competed in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on March 28. In the six-kilometre race she finished 75th with a time of 22:07, 3:20 behind the leader.

This was the Northern Secondary School student’s first time racing internationally and described the experience as rewarding.

“I had never experienced anything quite like it before,” she said. “We were all from such different places but could connect over the common bond of running and how hard we had all worked to make it there.

“The whole experience made me realize how much I wanted to continue in the sport of running and compete internationally for my country.”

Looking back on her race, Davidson learned new tactics that she hopes will help her become a stronger runner.

“The field is a lot deeper and you encounter a completely different race style,” she said. “You have to be a lot more aggressive because everyone has trained just as hard as you have and it all comes down to what you’re willing to bring out on race day.

“I’m definitely going to take that aggressive race style and try to apply it next year when I compete in the NCAA.”

While she didn’t win the race back in March, Davidson was pleased with the result, especially being two years younger than the field.

Still, she knows there is room for improvement.

“I did very well considering it was my first international competition and my age,” she said, adding her fourth place finish among her teammates and beating half the field was what garnered Canada an eighth place spot overall.

Davidson is not done yet — she is thirsty for more races, and better finishes.

“I definitely did not race as well as I would have liked to because I think I psyched myself out a bit,” she said. “Next year I would like to finish in the top 40 or 50.”

The reason for her drive: her mentors at the University of Toronto, where she trains.

“They really developed me physically and mentally as an athlete and I really wouldn’t have made it without the two of them,” she said.

And it’s not just the pros that help her achieve new heights.

“My school coach, Mr. Patrick Vamplew has been a huge influence as well,” she said. “He has been supporting me since my grade 9 year, way before I was even close to making a national team.

“Though he doesn’t attend my U of T practices, he was at every single one of my races supporting me and cheering me on.”

While she may have felt a little overwhelmed during her trip to Poland, she was grateful to the coaches and her teammates for making her feel at home.

“There was a tremendous team atmosphere when I was competing,” Davidson said.

“The coaches talked to us a lot about racing for your team and remembering that we are all in it together.

“I felt really connected to all of the other men and women on the team and very proud to have the honour of representing my country.”