Brockerville's in it for the long run

Kenn Oliver
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Marystown native coming off outstanding season with Simon Fraser

As far as banner years go, Ryan Brockerville's sophomore track season at Simon Fraser University was just that.

The 20-year-old distance runner from Marystown earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic (NAIA) All-American honours in cross-country and steeplechase. He was the only SFU (the Burnaby, B.C., school competes in United States-based events) runner to finish both the cross-country and track seasons with such honours.

He also became the first Newfoundlander to run the 3,000-metre steeplechase in under nine minutes, breaking Jeff Collingwood's 1982 provincial record by more than three seconds with a time of 8:58.37. And in April, Brockerville ran the 1,500 in under four minutes for the first time. All this in a season that included some first-place finishes and many top-10 showings.

Marystown native Ryan Brockerville earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic (NAIA) All-American honours in cross-country and steeplechase while competing for the Simon Fraser University Clan. - SFU photo

As far as banner years go, Ryan Brockerville's sophomore track season at Simon Fraser University was just that.

The 20-year-old distance runner from Marystown earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic (NAIA) All-American honours in cross-country and steeplechase. He was the only SFU (the Burnaby, B.C., school competes in United States-based events) runner to finish both the cross-country and track seasons with such honours.

He also became the first Newfoundlander to run the 3,000-metre steeplechase in under nine minutes, breaking Jeff Collingwood's 1982 provincial record by more than three seconds with a time of 8:58.37. And in April, Brockerville ran the 1,500 in under four minutes for the first time. All this in a season that included some first-place finishes and many top-10 showings.

"Things really came together for me," says Brockerville. "I put a lot of time into things and it really worked out well."

Not bad for a kid from a town where there were few other, if any, distance runners and the only track on which to train is made of asphalt.

"It's pretty hard on the legs," contends the Pearce high school graduate, who credits teacher Robert Hallett and his uncle, provincial marathon great Gord Brockerville, with helping him take the first steps of his running career.

Commitment to running came late

His results are even more surprising when you consider it wasn't until he was nearly 17 when he decided to set aside soccer and hockey - those being his main activities at the time- and concentrate on running.

"I went to nationals and got beat ... real bad. So I decided to focus on running," he said. "It seemed like I could really do something with it. So I started taking it more seriously."

His dedication and consistently improving times earned him a look from SFU athletics coach Brit Townsend.

"She called me up and said, 'You're running some decent times. We'd love to have you, if not this year, maybe next.'"

Not wanting to lose a year of eligibility, Brockerville packed a hockey bag, kissed his mom goodbye and a few weeks later, was attending a training camp in Whistler, B.C. It was the first time since he'd started running that e found himself training in the company of other serious runners. Up until then, he had trained almost exclusively on his own.

"Now, I had a bunch of guys there who wanted the same thing I wanted. Things only got better," said Brockerville.

It wasn't all perfect. During his freshman year, Brockerville admits the lure of a collegiate athlete's life - where studies sometimes get left in the dust of competition and fun- got the best of him and he ended up missing his minimum grade point average. As a result, he was benched for his first track season.

"That was a wake-up call," he says.

With his time off, Brockerville put himself back on track and drove his GPA well above the comfortable cushion and vowed to never let it slip again.

Last week, Brockerville returned home - "there was no better feeling what I had when I flew in" - but it won't be a summer of relaxation. He's set a busy schedule for himself.

This month, he'll attend the senior nationals in Toronto, where he'll look to improve on last year's results - "heat was a big factor for me." From there, he'll head to P.E.I., where he'll stay with an SFU teammate and begin preparation for the Canada Summer Games in mid-August.

In between, he plans on competing in the 1,500 metre steeplechase at the Aileen Meagher International Track Classic in Halifax on Canada Day.

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Simon Fraser University, Aileen Meagher International Track Classic

Geographic location: Marystown, Burnaby, Whistler Toronto Canada Halifax

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