One step at a time

Fal­mouth run­ner breaks 12-year record at dis­trict track and field com­pe­ti­tion

Valley Journal Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY WENDY EL­LIOTT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA WOLFVILLE welliott@kingscountynews.ca

Mered­ith Cham­bers of King’sEdge­hill School (KES) had a ter­rific start to the re­gional track and field cham­pi­onships on May 27.

The 16- year- old broke a 12-year-old record for the in­ter­me­di­ate 1,500-me­tre run with her time of 4:55:97, se­cur­ing a booth at the pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tion in Stel­lar­ton in June.

The Fal­mouth res­i­dent be­gan run­ning in el­e­men­tary school, but says she be­gan tak­ing the sport se­ri­ously last fall af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a joint in­jury.

Cham­bers en­joys cross-coun­try run­ning in the fall and runs in three track events: the 800-, 1,500and 3,000-me­tres. At the dis­trict com­pe­ti­tion, she cap­tured medals in all three races, im­prov­ing on her per­for­mance last year, when she found her­self sec­ond in her trio of spe­cial­ties.

She’s never been a sprinter and she sus­pects that has some­thing to do with her mus­cles. In­stead, she puts her brain to work to help win her races. Cham­bers says she ap­pre­ci­ates a math-based knowl­edge of how her pace matches up with where she should be in a race.

Train­ing with three or four other KES girls, in­clud­ing Pat­tiAnne Tracey and Kather­ine Traves, and some of the boys, Cham­bers finds the friendly com­pe­ti­tion en­cour­ages her.

Coach Phillip Hadley says, “She’s for­tu­nate to have a good squad of girls. That’s a good sit­u­a­tion.”

He says Cham­bers has both de­ter­mi­na­tion and dis­ci­pline - both key qual­i­ties to help her suc­ceed at track com­pe­ti­tions.

“That’s what it takes,” Hadley said. “I think it also helps to be a multi-sport ath­lete.”

Pas­sion for sports

Cham­bers was a mem­ber of the Wind­sor Bluefins Swim Team, tak­ing part in 100-me­tre breast­stroke and the 50-me­tre and 200me­tre freestyle events in 2014, but she thinks she’ll al­ways be a run­ner.

“I hope so,” she says. “I can see my­self run­ning half marathons. That’s my fu­ture plan.”

Al­though the Mar­tock ski hill is an at­trac­tion for her and Cham­bers en­joys snow­board­ing and bor­der cross, run­ning is where her real pas­sion is. Of­ten, she will come from the hill and run in the dark. She says sim­ply, “I like run­ning bet­ter.”

Last sum­mer, Cham­bers trained with KES coach Guy Payne and joined Val­ley Ath­let­ics, where she was coached by the vet­eran run­ner Ralph Wil­liams at Ray­mond Field in Wolfville.

Cham­bers said she ap­pre­ci­ated his depth of ex­pe­ri­ence, adding, “He’s great.”

Hav­ing had an in­jury that ap­pears to have been a fluke, Cham­bers says she is care­ful to do her drills and to warm up and cool down.

“I’m cau­tious,” she says. “But I think I was for­tu­nate, I don’t think I was prone to in­jury.”

Last year, she was one of the ath­letes of the year at KES. She demon­strated ex­actly why last fall, when Cham­bers bet­tered her cross-coun­try sta­tus from 64th po­si­tion to 11th. Her school coaches said phys­i­cally, tech­ni­cally and men­tally, her im­prove­ment was out­stand­ing.

Cham­bers makes an ef­fort to en­sure she’s well-rounded, with sev­eral non-sports-re­lated ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing con­tribut­ing to the soup kitchen at Har­vest House in down­town Wind­sor, where she is part of a lunch hour team that pitches in to serve meals and wash dishes.

Some of her peers were sur­prised at the no­tion of home­less peo­ple liv­ing in Wind­sor, Cham­bers says, but all were happy to help.

Her older brother, Dustin, who at­tends Dal­housie Univer­sity, be­gan run­ning in ju­nior high and Cham­bers’ mother, Wendy, says her daugh­ter got to tag along to track events.

“He still runs,” Cham­bers adds. Her fa­ther, Doug, ran while he was in school and also en­cour­ages her in her cho­sen sport.

But on May 27, Cham­bers did not linger at Ray­mond Field af­ter her friends com­peted in the se­nior 1,500 m race – not with the KES Cadet Ball sched­uled for the same even­ing.

WENDY EL­LIOTT

First place Mered­ith Cham­bers of Kings-Edge­hill School stands on the podium at Ray­mond Field with Han­nah Fuller, left, of Hor­ton and Ni­cole Skinner of Parkview.

WENDY EL­LIOTT

Mered­ith Cham­bers takes some time to chat with her friend and fel­low run­ner, Kather­ine Traves. Traves came third in the se­nior girls 1,500 me­tre run.

WENDY EL­LIOTT

Mered­ith Cham­bers’ mom, Wendy, was her big­gest fan at the re­gional track and field meet at Aca­dia Univer­sity on May 27.

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