14-year-old Emily Hunt is preparing to travel to Brandon, Manitoba for the track and field nationals this month. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Port Alberni distance runner headed to nationals

14-year-old Emily Hunt ranked No. 1 in the province in the 1200m and 2000m

A young Port Alberni distance runner will be competing in the National Youth Track and Field Championships in Manitoba later this month.

14-year-old Emily Hunt got started in track and field in elementary school. Wood Elementary held a weekly “Run for Fun” and Emily, a frequent first-place winner of the competition, was encouraged to join the track team.

“And then I did really good,” said Emily. “And I really liked it.”

Last year, at age 13, she travelled to the BC Junior Development Track and Field Championships and ended up with three bronze medals and two personal best records.

READ: Young Valley runner brings home medals

Now, going into Grade 9 at Alberni District Secondary School, Emily competes both with the high school track and cross-country teams, as well as the Mid-Island Distance Running Club. She trains five or six days a week—on Saturdays with Mid-Island coaches Kim and Randy Longmuir, and other days with her parents.

“We decided on this program for her because Kim and Randy are very well-respected in the middle distance community,” said Emily’s father, Dave Hunt. “And because of the long-distance speciality.”

Emily, who will be running the 800-metre, the 1200m and the 2000m events at nationals, likes running long distances.

“I find them really fun,” said Emily. “It’s not over with very quickly and I spend more time doing what I love.”

There’s time for strategy, added Dave. “You have five laps to assess who you’re running with and what they’re doing,” he said.

This year, Emily reached the Canadian Qualifying Standard in the 800m, 1200m and 2000m, which qualified her for the national championship. She will be taking her first trip outside of the province (other than a cadet trip to Nunavut in 2017) to Brandon, Manitoba.

“If you qualify for something like this, you’ve got no choice but to take her,” said Dave. “We can’t say ‘maybe next year’ because she might not qualify next year.”

Emily is currently ranked No. 1 in BC in the 1200m and 2000m, and ranked No. 2 in the 800m in the Midget 14 category.

“For Nationals, I want to do my best,” said Emily. “Next year, I want to make Team BC. I want to keep competing in national events, and see how it goes from there.”

Emily recently travelled to Cowichan with Team BC, and a few other Port Alberni athletes, for the BC Summer Games—an event that she described as a fantastic learning experience.

READ: Port Alberni athletes medal at BC Summer Games

“It was a great time. I made a lot of friends,” she said. “It was kind of like I was at a concert.”

Emily didn’t run the 1200m as well as she hoped to, but had a personal best in the 2000m.

The experience was “intense,” said Emily, because the team—made up of athletes from the Vancouver Island-Central Coast Zone—had to travel together at all times. All athletes slept on small blue cots in a gymnasium, and athletes had to carry identification badges at all times.

“That way they’re all equal,” said Dave. “It’s very different from [an event] your parents drive you to.”

When she goes to Manitoba, Emily will be travelling with her family. Although she is competing in the midget category, and competing against athletes older than her, she is unable to travel with Team BC because she is considered too young.

“Because she’s not with Team BC, it’s on our dime,” said Dave.

Emily has been collecting donations for her trip around town and has set up a fundraiser through GoFundMe: Help Emily Hunt Go To The Nationals.

Emily will be running from Aug. 10-12 in the humid Manitoba heat—which is no problem for her.

“I run faster in hot weather,” she said with a grin.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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