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Alaistair Brown knows he’s a long-shot to make the Canadian Olympic track team.
Ranked 11th in the country heading into this weekend’s 1,500-metre Olympic qualifier in Calgary, the former Lakehead University star said he’d probably have to better his personal best in the event by as much as 10 seconds to earn a spot at the London Games.
It’s all about experience for Brown, who is entering med school next fall at the University of Manitoba and not sure how long his running career can continue.
“It’s a pretty neat, new experience for me. I’ve never been to a senior national championship, and especially to go my first year in the Olympic trials is going to be an eye-opening experience. But I’ve raced against a lot of the guys there before,” said Bown, who will also compete in the 800-metre race.
“Maybe not the top guys who are vying for the Olympic spots, but a lot of the guys ranked fourth to 15th I’ve raced against a ton.”
Nate Brannen and Taylor Milne, a 2008 Canadian Olympian, head the list of runners at the trials, scheduled to run from June 27 to 30.
After them, anything can happen, Brown said.
“There’s a couple of guys from the 3:37 to 3:41 range, but then after that for the next bunch of guys, there are a lot of us packed together from 3:42 to 3:46 or 3:47,” said Brown, who has already shaved 4.5 seconds off his personal best time this season.
“I definitely think I’m in the mix to be in top 10, and that’s sort of my goal, to make the final and then finish as high up as possible.”
Lakehead track coach Kip Sigworth said he likes Brown's chances for a decent finish.
"With the way he has been running so far this year, Alastair has set himself up to make a run at the final in the 1500-metre, which would be a great accomplishment."
There are three heats at the trials, with the top three finishers advancing to the final, plus the next three fastest runners.
Brown, who finished fifth at CIS nationals in both the 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre races, got a pass into the trials after meeting the qualifying standard of 3:48 at a race earlier this month in Indianapolis.
Brown won’t be alone in Calgary.
Tess Naroski (1,500-metre), Travis Roske (800-metre), Heather Maxfield (800- and 400-metre) and Hilary Quirion (10-kilomentre) are other local runners at the trials, though the first three will have to early qualify to earn a spot in the heats, which begin on Thursday. All four have ties to Lakehead.
It’s what they’ve been working for the past year.
“The Olympic trials were kind of the focal point of our season. We made all the preparations leading up to them,” Brown said.
“So really our races were a little bit longer and a little bit different that what I’d normally race. I raced a couple of 5 Ks, a 10 K, a 15 K on the road, just to get that feel. We started gearing our races toward being the in the best shape we could be at this time.”
Brown said the 1,500-metre, which replaced the mile race at the international level, is his best race outdoors, which is why he chose it for the trials.
He doesn’t have the endurance for the longer races, and his raw speed just isn’t there for shorter races like the 800-metre distance.
“It’s kind of the perfect blend of speed and endurance for me, so it’s really my event. It’s a really fun event. It’s the mile.”
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