Chris Winter was not going to be denied this time.
The 28-year-old runner from Vancouver had finished third, fourth and second at the Canadian cross-country championships the last three years at Jericho Beach Park.
But in Saturday’s race, the last one at Jericho before the championship moves to Kingston, Ont., Winter bested a strong field to take home the senior men’s title with a time of 32 minutes, 17 seconds for the 10K.
“I really badly wanted it and I was fortunate to put myself into position to make it happen,” said Winter.
In a biting cold, on a muddy course dusted with snow, Winter ran the last two kilometres side by side with Kelly Wiebe, a Saskatchewan native now living and training in Vancouver. Each would take turns out front, until Winter eventually pulled away on the 400-metre finishing stretch to win by four seconds.
“With a (kilometre) to go, he went by me hard, and I was like ‘Ah, second’s pretty cool. That’s alright.’
“But I kept on grinding, kept on grinding. I realized his surge had only got him so far. I was like ‘come back on him and be your own momentum.’ With 400 metres to go, I unleashed the bear and I was fortunate.”
Matt Johnson, a University of Regina product, was third in 32:33. Defending champion Luc Bruchet of White Rock, who beat Winter by six seconds in 2013, was 10th in 32:55.
Rachel Hannah of Toronto won the senior women’s 8K in 28:50, 18 seconds ahead of Vancouverite Rachel Cliff, who is engaged to Winter.
Defending champion Natasha Wodak of Port Moody was third in 29:17.
The top six men and women qualified for the 2015 Pan Am cross country championships in Colombia in February.