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GNS’s Ben Weir Earns Silver at Provincial Championships

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The climax of the 2012 cross-country season was reached this past weekend when the Provincial Championships were held in Prince George. The only GNS competitor was long-time exponent of the sport, and recent Island Champion, Ben Weir. Two hundred and sixty-four competitors toed the line on a course that was well-worthy of determining the winner of these championships. Ben faced three 2K laps over snowy and icy ground with a long steep hill down—and back up—on each of the laps. The temperature was barely above freezing and the very unfamiliar conditions for all the Island athletes resulted in higher than normal nerve levels. Ben was one of the favourites for the title having won the Island Championships just a fortnight earlier. As the start approached a battle cry could be heard from the numerous teams trying hard to psyche each other up. Ben, as always, remained calm. The gun sounded and a multitude of nervous, keen and apprehensive athletes surged forward. Then disaster struck—Ben was clipped from behind and fell, and losing a shoe in the process. Left with an impossible decision, he quickly rose and decided to pursue, albeit without the most important part of a cross-country runner’s armoury. As a result, Ben found himself mid-pack, a long way from the charging spearhead at the front. But Ben remained calm and diligently picked off runner after runner. Towards the end of the first of the three 2K laps, he had managed to join the leading quintet. Incredibly, the leader had no idea until after the race what had beset Ben. By this stage, Ben’s shoeless foot was completely numb and he was operating at half-power as he had to tentatively pick his way through and around sharp, protruding stones and rocks. Against all odds Ben was still in the mix entering the final lap, but at this time Tim Delcourt from Vancouver made a bold move and effortlessly glided away over this snowy terrain. Ben was left to battle for a podium finish and, with 600m remaining, put in a devastating kick and flew through the line to the silver medal position—just 15 seconds behind the winner. Ben exceeded the performances of the likes of Cam Leivins and Geoff Martinson who had never won these championships but have gone on to represent Canada at the highest level. In my involvement in over 30 years of running I have never witnessed such a brave performance. I have been at stadiums and cross-country courses throughout the world and have had the privilege of observing world class performances. Ben’s reaction and ultimate performance ranks up there at the highest echelons regarding attitude. It is the athlete’s lot to encounter hurdles, but Ben rose to new heights with the way he handled this pressure. He managed to block out what many would have heralded as an excuse, and went on to perform with distinction. His medal may have been coloured silver, but everything else was gold for Paul O’Callaghan, Coach