Track North Athletic Club coaches Darren Jermyn and Dick Moss are always thrilled when their Twilight Meets attract out of town athletes. June 24, however, was extra special.
With their second meet of the summer falling on the same date that allows for posting qualifying standards for the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships, the Sudbury crew welcomed a group of runners representing the Speed River Track Club out of Guelph, the same squad that Lively native Ross Proudfoot trains with during the summer months.
The trek north provided a memorable experience for one race winner in particular. Hitting his mark with a clocking of 3:57.33 in the 1500m, Mostafa Elkurdy posted his second personal best in the past few days, earning a berth directly to Junior Nationals in Montreal in two weeks time.
Considering that Elkurdy landed in Canada less than two weeks ago after completing his high school year in Qatar, it's safe to suggest that it's been quite a whirlwind stretch for the Alberta-born Egyptian.
"For me, this was such a shock," said Elkurdy. "For the past two years, I haven't run faster than 4:03. Last Friday, I ran just under four minutes." The rapid progress, in his opinion, is a direct byproduct of the pace being set by the other runners he is now sharing the track with.
"From where I was from, there was no competition at all," he said. "I'm used to running 4:03, with second place at 4:30 or so. I'm definitely not used to this, and I think this is why I've seen like a seven-second PB since I got here."
Born in Calgary, Elkurdy moved with his family to Texas, before heading to Qatar some five years ago, following his father's career in the oil and gas industry.
With plans to attend Guelph University this fall, Elkurdy opted to come to Ontario a few months early, training with some of his teammates-to-be in September.
By contrast, Lo-Ellen Park middle distance runner Brendan Costello is quite a familiar face around the LU track, having hooked up with Track North a couple of years back. Still, a sub two-minute 800m was anything but familiar territory for the Knights' star.
That changed in a big way at the Twilight Meet as Costello bolted through the first 400m in 56 seconds, with the help of rabbits Brandon Belan and Chantry Cargill, breaking the milestone in style with a time of 1:58.26.
"The guys were really pushing me to hit my pace," said an elated Costello after the run. "Once I came through (the first 400m) and was looking at the clock and saw 56 (seconds), it kind of went in the back of my mind that this is going to hurt."
"I really started to feel it with 300 metres to go, and my last 200m paid the price." For the sake of a 1:58.26, it was pain that was well worth the gain. Also breaking new ground, in a big way, was para track and field OFSAA medallist Chris Barclay, shaving several seconds off his personal best in the 400m with a time of 1:01.16.
"I actually like the 400m, but there is no 400m for the para athletes (at OFSAA), so I ended up doing the 100m and 800m," noted the Lo-Ellen senior who competes in the category that covers off visually impaired competitors.
"During practice, I have to make sure that there is someone there, guiding me around the hurdles and starting blocks and stuff," he explained. "But in the race, it's probably more just staying in my lane than anything. I haven't DQ'd yet," Barclay added with a smile.
On this particular night, the multi-sport athlete, who also shines in the para-nordic ski events, had plenty to smile about.
"That's a huge PB for me, almost breaking a minute," Barclay said.
"The race kind of fell apart at the end, but I thought I stayed strong through the first 300 metres. The shorter distances are more fun, but the longer ones, I'm a little better at."
Following is a listing of all event winners from Twilight Meet No. 2:
Tyke Girls - Jorja Proulx (Elliot Lake) – 4.65m
Atom Girls - Lakota Rongits (Elliot Lake) – 5.75m
Open Girls - Allison Byrnes (Track North) – 10.40m
Tyke Boys - Owen Parsons (Elliot Lake) – 4.71m
Atom Boys - Nicholas Narozanski (Track North) – 8.96m
Bantam Boys - Connor Russo (North Bay) – 7.08m
Open Girls - Allison Byrnes (Track North) – 13.22
Tyke Boys - Owen Parsons (Elliot Lake) – 18.89
Atom Boys - Colin Hungerford (Almaguin) – 13.57
Open Boys - William Scott (Track North) – 12.05
Atom Girls - Gabrielle Russo (North Bay) – 34.38
Open Girls - Claudia Schlosser (Almaguin) – 26.97
Tyke Boys - Owen Parsons (Elliot Lake) – 40.50
Atom Boys - Colin Hungerford (Almaguin) – 28.35
Open Boys - William Scott (Track North) – 24.12
Open Girls - Claudia Schlosser (Almaguin) – 1:01.79
Atom Boys - Nicholas Burke (Northeastern) – 1:06.26
Open Boys - Brandon Shirk (Track North) – 51.39
Bantam Girls - Allison Caswell (Lo-Ellen) – 2:36.84
Open Boys - Brendan Costello (Track North) – 1:58.26
Open Mixed - Emily Marcolini (Track North) – 4:55.58
Open Boys - Mostafa Elkurdy (Speed River) – 3:57.33
Open Girls - Marissa Lobert (Sault Athletics) – 10:24.28
Open Boys - Liam Passi (Track North) – 9:30.94
Open Girls - Danika Falvo (North Bay) – 29.93m
Open Boys - Connor Eastaugh (North Bay) – 27.05m
Open Girls - Danika Falvo (North Bay) – 37.50m
Bantam Boys - Connor Russo (North Bay) – 13.62m
Open Boys - Drew Szydlik (North Bay) – 35.62m