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Canadian Running - - CONTENTS - Alex Cyr FriesenPress

Run­ners of the Nish; When Run­ning Made His­tory

Cyr, a vet­eran of U Sports com­pe­ti­tion (he’s cur­rently a Wind­sor Lancer), has penned a first­per­son ac­count of the St. Fran­cis Xavier X-Men’s jour­ney to the 2016 U Sports cham­pi­onship. Inf lu­enced by run­ning cult clas­sics, Once A Run­ner and Run­ning with the Buf­faloes, Cyr gives a first­per­son ac­count through the course of the sea­son, pro­vid­ing read­ers with a strong sense of the team’s dy­namic, yet per­haps at the cost of the big­ger pic­ture.

The char­ac­ters, or rather the real col­le­giate men that pop­u­late the book, will be fa­mil­iar to any cur­rent or for­mer var­sity run­ner, al­beit in ab­stract form: there’s the clue­less rookie look­ing to fit in; the guy who ham­mers ev­ery run (dubbed by Cyr as the “Easy Run Hero”); the un­der­stated leader and the partier who should prob­a­bly take things more se­ri­ously. And while per­haps a more nu­anced sense of char­ac­ter­i­za­tion might have el­e­vated the emo­tion of the text, there is some­thing com­fort­ing about the rec­og­niz­abil­ity of a band of young men who re­ally just want to run fast. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the book picks up speed closer to cham­pi­onship time – a race in which Cyr ac­cu­rately de­picts the fickle na­ture of the sport.

Run­ners of the Nish is un­abashed Cana­di­ana, and not only t hat, it’s un­abashed Mar­itime Cana­di­ana. The book even has its own Trackie thread (a sort of meta-ex­pe­ri­ence, given the ref­er­ences to Trackie through­out the text). The most com­pelling com­ment, how­ever, came from Queen’s Univer­sity’s XC/ Track head coach, Steve Boyd, who, in re­sponse to sev­eral com­men­ta­tors’ dis­parag­ing re­marks re­gard­ing the re­sults of the St. FX team, wrote, “Who says the most in­ter­est­ing sto­ries are about the fastest peo­ple?”

And that’s who Run­ners of the Nish is for – the fan of run­ning sto­ries. It is nei­ther a train­ing log, nor a lit­er­ary mas­ter­piece, but rather a fun rip through an ephemeral mo­ment in the lives of a group of young men. Here’s hop­ing Cyr has started a trend of long-form cel­e­bra­tion of Cana­dian col­le­giate sport.— Caela Fen­ton

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