Hannah Bennison continued her winning ways on November 28th at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Kingston, ON. The grade 11 student from Vernon, BC won the U20 title against a field of 77 athletes from almost every province in Canada. Hannah, who turned 16 years this past August, was competing against runners 2-3 years older.
1 Hannah Bennison OKANAGAN ATHLETICS CLUB 144F 20:29.7
2 Madeleine Ghazarian SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD 160F 20:50.6
3 Christiane Konstantopoulos UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO T.C 174F 21:01.9
4 Jennie Baragar-PetrashWinnipeg Optimist Athletics 181F 21:12.0
5 Branna MacDougall PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON 151F 21:23.7
6 Christina Sevsek SOUTH FRASER TRACK & FIELD 157F 21:35.1
On November 7, Hannah defended her BC High School Cross Country Championships
at Jericho Beach in Vancouver by almost a minute over a field of 218 student athletes.
She completed the muddy and hilly course in 16:40.98
The following article was written by Howard Tsumura of The Province on November 4, 2015 just prior to her BC High School Cross Country win.
Ask Hannah Bennison to describe her running style, and you can almost picture the Grade 11 middle-distance star from Vernon Secondary at work in front of an easel, making every brush-stroke on her canvas count by using every bit of paint on her palette.
“When I run, I try to run a pretty race,” Bennison explains. “I want to make it an art, almost. I want it to be smooth and relaxed. Not look like I’m grinding. But I still like to leave it all on the course.”
Put all of that together and pack it in Bennison’s 5-foot-1 frame and you get a harrier, both gritty and graceful, who is ready this Saturday morning to paint her signature on the proceedings as the defending girls champion at the 2015 Subway B.C. High School Cross-Country Championships on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach Park course.
Over the past 12 months, Bennison has opened eyes outside of her training base in nearby Kelowna with the Okanagan Athletics Club, to include the rest of the world.
Last November, as a 10th grader, Bennison won the 2014 B.C. high school cross country title. In June on the track, she broke the B.C. high school championship record in the 3,000-metres, a mark that had stood since 1984, by running a personal best of 9:33.44.
Later in the summer, at the IAAF World Youth championships in Cali, Colombia, Bennison was the top finisher from North America in the 3,000 metres.
And just to prove that her upward curve is continuing to unfold on cue, Bennison, at age 16, finished fifth overall at the B.C. Cross Country Championships on Oct. 24, with the four competitors who placed ahead of her all six to 18 years her senior. Bennison elected to skip her own age-group race and instead entered as an Under-19 runner, finishing first among that age group in a race that included the top women’s competitors.
“She has a huge engine, an aerobic capacity that is beyond her years,” says her coach Malindi Elmore, a former five-time All-American at Stanford and a 2004 Olympian. “But ultimately what it comes down to is her passion for the sport. Just like everything else she does in her life, she wants to be the best. There are a lot of natural abilities, but she is also the kind of hard worker that you need to be.”
And Elmore agrees that watching Bennison run is a special thing.
“She is such a beautiful looking runner with a such a fluid stride,” says Elmore. “It’s just how she moves. The body is so well coordinated, she almost floats.”
Add the component of courage into every description and you see what the gathered mass as Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park did last June when Bennison broke the 3,000-metre record on a blazing hot day.
From the opening gun, the compact Bennison broke to the front of pack, never questioning her ability to keep building and building her lead, providing perhaps the remarkable spectacle of the weekend as she enthralled the crowd with every lap.
Afterwards, it didn’t even look like she needed time to catch her breath.Turning to the grandstand, she waived, thanking the crowd for their support.
“People love to see other people who are very talented and exceptional at what they do,” Elmore said of the crowd connection Bennison seems to have wherever she runs. “Whether it’s ballet or music or whatever, watching someone who is extraordinary is inspiring.”
And running, to Bennison, is akin to one of the performing arts, one of whose more traditional forms is another love of hers.
“I play the piano,” she says, noting that at her level — Grade 10 — she is one step shy of becoming an instructor. “I play classical, and I like the romantic stuff like Debussy and Chopin.”
It’s the kind of music that requires massive technical skill to play, but it’s also the kind of music that you can float to.
In Hannah Bennison’s world, art seems to imitate athletics, and that’s just the way she likes it.
By Howard Tsumura of The Province