By Gary Kingston
When the heavy snow that fell during the December storms stayed around much longer than usual thanks to the early winter cold snap, UBC head track coach Laurier Primeau was reminded of an old English proverb.
“They say that necessity is the mother of invention,” Primeau said this week of the challenge in maintaining training for his athletes. “We had to get creative.”
UBC doesn’t have an indoor track. And with a handful of runners headed to this weekend’s University of Washington indoor invitational and 25-30 looking to compete at the Harry Jerome Indoor Games on Feb. 4, Laurier and has staff did, indeed, have to be resourceful.
The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre quickly became home base.
“We were able to use a 200-metre horseshoe-shaped space in our hockey arena up on the mezzanine,” said Primeau. “We couldn’t wear spikes, obviously, but it worked out OK.”
The high jumpers were taking off over hurdles and the shot putters threw against walls “instead of just letting them fly.”
“It forced us to do different things, emphasizing more of the technical components. We couldn’t sprint very far, couldn’t throw very far. Time will tell if we’re better off for it.”
UBC doesn’t compete in a national indoors championships.
“Anything we do indoors is just preparatory for our outdoor season,” said Primeau, noting that the Jerome is all about “rust removal, finding out where we are and breaking up the monotony of training.”
“Our power and speed athletes, in particular, have not competed in quite a long time,” added Primeau, squad got back outside training on Jan. 16. “The endurance runners at least have the benefit of cross-country (racing).”
The Jerome Indoor is contested on a 200-metre rubberized track at the Richmond Oval, with races at 60, 300, 600, 1,000 and 1,500 metres in various age categories. There are also 60-metre hurdles and relays, as well as high jump and shot put events.
“There’s three factors (with the track),” said Primeau. “It’s flat, it’s also tight and the surface is a little bit compromised, but we understand the limitations. There’s something to be said for getting out there and racing. With the longer races, we’re not going to be focused so much on time as much as execution and strategy.
Primeau says he’s keen to see some of the 'Birds younger athletes at the Jerome, including second year Jake Hanna (Elgin Park) and freshman Hayley Madden (Kitsilano), both of whom will run the 600, and freshman sprinter Michael Aono.
Aono, a Seaquam Secondary grad, with personal bests of 10.68 seconds in the 100 and 21.28 in the 200, was heavily recruited by some of the top NCAA schools, before deciding to attend UBC. He won the U18 60 metres in 7.01 at the 2015 Jerome Indoor and had hoped last year to challenge the open meet record of 6.91 held by Nathan George of Trinity Western University.
But he was a late scratch because of some niggling leg problems.
"I'm excited about this year," he said. "You've been doing a lot of work in the pre-season and you want to run fast . . . see what you can improve on.
"Definitely sub-seven," he added when asked what his goal was. "But yeah (beating George's mark), I guess that'll be my goal."
The field for the 60 metres is expected to include Aono's UBC teammates Hanna and Mark Coles, former high school rival Quinn Litherland (St. Georges) and T-Birds' grad Stephen Abosi, who won the 60 metres last year in 7.02 seconds.
"It's a pretty fun event to run," said Aono. "It's just so short and it just doesn't feel like too much pressure. And I'm feeling pretty good right now."
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