A couple of weeks ago, Blair Morgan had no idea that he would be racing at the FISU World Cross Country Championships in Uganda, Africa.
Morgan – the Captain of the Marauders track and cross country team – was named one of the alternates of the team after his stellar race at the CIS Cross country Championships in November that saw him place 11th overall. This top 15 finish solidified his spot as a CIS all-star.
“I found out about a week afterwards that I was an alternate for the race,” said Morgan. “I was actually the second alternate, because Lionel [Sanders] was the first alternate.”
Sanders – a veteran runner on the Marauders cross country team – finished 10th overall at the CIS Championships, just two seconds ahead of Morgan, making him the first option as an alternate for the Canadian team.
Six people were named to race at the International meet, but after Ryan Cassidy – a runner from U of Vic was declared as being injured – Sanders was next in line to be named to compete.
“They were going to ask Lionel, but they heard he wasn’t interested, so they called me, and after that it took a couple weeks for them to get confirmation that they could enter me because it was past the entry deadline, so it was a couple weeks of just waiting,” said Morgan.
Morgan got the call that he would be racing on March 6, and he needed to alter his training from shorter track distances, to longer cross country distances in the short period of time.
But he was prepared, just in case.
“I got all the vaccinations I needed before I found out I was going, so I made arrangements before, basically as if I was going,” said Morgan.
Qualifying for the FISU Canadian cross country team was just the cherry on top of some of the major accomplishments that Morgan has achieved this season.
Morgan – an extremely dedicated student-athlete – has improved tremendously this season both in cross country and on the track, shocking everyone in the competitive running scene in the process.
Last year, Morgan finished 36th at the OUA Championships, and 46th at the CIS Championships.
This year, he finished 6th at OUA’s, and 11th at CI’s, dropping off an outstanding 35 places, and practically a minute and 15 seconds off of his time at the CIS Championships.
“I was at a plateau, but then I upped my mileage, and it got me going up,” said Morgan.
Triathlons are Morgan’s main concentration in the summer months, but for the summer leading up to this year’s cross country season, he did things a little differently.
“I finished my tri season early to get ready for cross and I was training pretty hard, but I wasn’t expecting what happened,” said Morgan.
Along with upping his mileage, Morgan credits this year’s massive improvements to swimming over the cross country season to prevent injuries, and to his core work-outs with the rest of the Marauders team.
After a long season of hard work and extremely impressive results, Morgan will now get the opportunity to compete alongside some of the world’s best collegiate runners.
In such a high-level, prestigious meet like the FISU World Cross Country Championships, Morgan has one goal in mind: to not be the last runner sporting the Canadian singlet to cross the finish line.
“There’s a couple of guys that I raced with in the fall cross country season. I’m just going to try and run with them and see how it goes,” said Morgan.
Although the meet will be filled with future Olympians and extremely talented runners mainly from the host-continent of Africa, Morgan will fare well in the competition, as he is a primary example that hard work really does pay off.