The Covid-19 Pandemic has had profound effects on every phase of life during past 16 months.
Canadian track and field athletes are no exception with virtually no competitions in the 2020 outdoor season and the 2021 indoor season. As we slowly find fewer new covid-19 cases and as vaccinations ramp up, extremely limited high performance opportunities are available to runners in British Columbia. This Saturday the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic will be provide such an opportunity to local athletes.
Most observers would expect that performances would have declined because of the pandemic but that may not be the case. A small group of Simon Fraser University based middle distance men have emerged from this world wide crisis with surprising early season success.
SFU undergraduates Aaron Ahl and Charlie Dannatt are led by Cameron Proceviat, an SFU graduate who now is a medical student at UBC . This training trio are turning heads as they emerge from the pandemic with massive improvement in the 1500m. Compare the 2019 season with 2021 so far.
2019 Canadian 2021 Canadian
Ranking Time Ranking Time
Cameron Proceviat’93 #28 3:46.66 #5 3:39.26
Aaron Ahl’99 #61 3:51.14 #11 3:41.28
Charlie Dannatt’99 #200 4:00.28 #12 3:42.11
It is not the altitude of Burnaby Mountain that is making the difference, so we asked Cameron Proceviat a few questions.
Am I correct that your training group includes Aaron and Charlie?
Yes, Aaron and Charlie are current SFU varsity athletes, and I am still training with the team up there. (Head SFU Coach, Brit Townsend)
Anyone is impressed with how all three of you have made significant increases in your PB's to date. You 7+ seconds, Aaron 10+ seconds and Charlie 4+ seconds.
What do you attribute this to? Volume? Intensity? Burnaby Mountain altitude? (just kidding)
For myself, I think it's just a continuation of improvement I had last year during COVID and also having some really fast teammates this year. When everything got cancelled, we decided to kept up with the increased volume this whole year and workouts were mostly on the 3k side of the 1500m (versus the 800) for longer into the track season than we usually would.
Aaron seems like a bit of a surprise, but he's been improving steadily since he got to SFU. This year I think he just slowly raised his volume from previous years. Aaron is extremely motivated and even as a freshman at SFU he had an intense competitive drive that I hadn't seen in a teammate in a long time.
Charlie also kept the training going all summer last year after feeling like he had finally gotten back to where he was prior to a bunch of injuries that kept him out for a few years. He has really matured as an athlete and figured out what works for him - less volume on off days and more quality on workout days. Since the few time trials we had in January, Charlie's improvement has been huge.
Charlie, Aaron and I do almost all our workouts together, and I feel that we have a great balance between being competitive and pushing each other without it becoming too competitive Each of us has our days where we are pushing the pace or out the back of workouts, but it's the days when someone pushes the boundaries on what we all thought was possible that collectively moves us all forward. This year it seems like that's happened quite a few times. And no altitude at Burnaby Mountain haha, but I do think we get some of the worst rain and wind in Vancouver at times, and Brit doesn't let us slack if the weather isn't cooperating which definitely makes us tough.
Clearly your group goals may be focussed on 2022 with potentially 3 national teams...Worlds, CWG, FISU Can you comment?
Charlie and Aaron were trying to make the NACAC U23 team and FISU this year so they will likely be going for FISU next year, but with the progression they've had I wouldn't be surprised if that's not the only team they make. A dream of mine is to make a Team Canada before I retire, so while I am gunning for World's next year, I would be happy with any opportunity.
Do you feel you can continue to train and manage medical school?
The first year of med school being virtual really helped with my training because I didn't lose time commuting and stayed in Burnaby all year to train with the team. As I will have to live closer to UBC next year, it might affect my training but I am committed to giving it a go for another year before clerkship starts. As of now though, I don't see myself continuing to train seriously past 2022. I think the busy schedule of medicine actually helps me with running, because it makes me more efficient and focused, and it helps me see training more as an enjoyable outlet than a chore. At SFU, I had some of my biggest breakthroughs in running when school was getting busier and more difficult.
Does the group have a goal for the 1500m Saturday?
I think it goes without saying that we all want to PB and we all want to win. We are happy to have a pacer and don't want to waste any opportunity we get. I tell the guys frequently that I love training with them and want them to run fast, but I also want to beat them badly and hope that they want to beat me too. I get more afraid of racing them than anyone else, because I remember the times I've been dropped in workouts and know they are capable of pushing me to my limits.
The Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic is closed to the public because of Covid-19 regulations.
However the 2021 Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic will be broadcast live from Vancouver, BC, Canada on Saturday, June 12.
The AthleticsCanada.tv broadcast and on demand videos will only be available for AthleticsCanada.tv +PLUS subscribers.
The broadcast will begin at 3:15pm PT / 6:15pm ET. Subject to change.
The broadcast will be focused on running events. Field events will be shown as the schedule allows but will not be shown in place of running events.
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