Athletes battle elements at PEISAA track and field championships

Jason Malloy
Published on June 9, 2014

Stonepark’s Yasmine Saleh leads the pack during a relay.

©Guardian photo by Jason Malloy

Cold, wet and windy.

That pretty much sums up the weather students endured Saturday during the Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association track and field championship in Charlottetown.

“It’s cold, really cold,” a shivering Janelle Perry said after completing the 1,200 metre. “Your legs get numb and it’s harder to run.”

Athletes tried to stay covered up as long as they could before their events, but when it was their turn to perform, they tossed the sweatshirts and jackets aside and put their training to the test.

Ryan Merritt said it was “cold as hell” coming down the final stretch of the 1,200 metres with the wind blowing in his face.

“It was bad, but you just have to push through it,” the Three Oaks Senior High student said, drenched after winning the race. “There’s definitely a lot of determination in this sport. The athletes are very determined to fight through whatever conditions it takes.”

Students and parents huddled in winter clothing, blankets and ponchos to try to stay warm and dry as the event progressed through the morning into the afternoon.

Elijah Hood won the 100- and 200-metre midget boys’ races. He tried to have fun and joke around with the other runners while waiting for his races to start. When it was time to go, the conditions were in the back of his mind.

“You’re not sure if you’re going to slip or not,” said the Queen Charlotte Grade 9 student.

But the conditions appeared to have helped Hood.

“I am running better times today than I was running in warmer days, that’s pretty interesting,” he said.

Track and field coach Colin MacAdam has been going to the school meet since the 1970s. He said it was the worst conditions he has witnessed and he competed one year when there was snow.

“It was actually not anywhere near as bad as it was (Saturday),” MacAdam said.

“I thought there were some amazing performances taking the weather into consideration. They were running and competing very hard in the worst of conditions.”