To say Mary Strain did Cambrian proud this season would be a bit of an understatement. After racking up an impressive list of accomplishments, including three first-place finishes and two course records, the Fort Frances native set a blistering pace to win the provincial championships, completing the 5 km course in a time of 20:28, more than a minute faster than the second-place finisher. The win did more than give Cambrian back-to-back OCAA women's cross-country gold medals; it also earned her a spot at the national championships in Sault Ste Marie in mid-November where she capped off an exceptional season with a silver medal, in a time of 18:24.
Mary recently slowed down just long enough to answer a few questions about her athletic career, life, and what's next for her as a Social Service Worker student.
What's your full name?
Mary Delores Deidre Strain
How did you get involved in cross-country?
My high school track and field coaches, Natasha Shack and Jon Dutton, assisted me in becoming more interested in, and dedicated to, the sport of running. Additionally, while attending Fort Frances High School, I looked up to my brother, Joshua, who was representing Lakehead University as a track and field athlete at the time. I later attended Lakehead University from 2012-2016. I had never run cross-country prior to attending Lakehead; however, I wanted to represent the university as a track athlete. As I began running longer distances on the track, the transition to running cross-country was natural. I represented Lakehead as a cross-country athlete for two years during my undergraduate degree. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to continue my cross-country running career here at Cambrian College. What a wonderful season it has been!
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
Yes, I do have pre-race rituals that I follow; for instance, I always put my left sock/shoe/spike on before my right.
What's your favourite food or meal?
I love salad, and mint chocolate chip ice cream!
Who's your favourite faculty member?
I am incredibly impressed with how passionate each faculty member that I have met thus far is about their position here at Cambrian College! Faculty members, including Henry Purawec, Laurel Charron, and John Battison, have inspired me, motivated me, challenged me, and supported me in their own way. It is far too difficult to choose one favourite when all faculty members are my favourite!
Who's your favourite athlete?
My favourite athlete is Canadian runner, Melissa Bishop.
What are you going to miss most after you graduate?
I will miss the positive learning and athletic environment offered here at Cambrian College. I will miss my cross-country coach, Eric Leishman, my Social Service Worker instructors, and my classmates as well.
What advice would you give to a high schooler who's thinking about getting involved in varsity athletics?
It takes a great amount of commitment to be a varsity athlete. Balancing schoolwork with athletics has been difficult for me at times; however, the experience of competing at a high level has made it all worthwhile. I know that I will remember and appreciate the success of my varsity career for the rest of my life.
What's next for you?
I value what education can do for me. I plan to further my education upon graduating as a Social Service Worker in the spring of 2017. I am grounding my future plans in education. If my academic plans allow me to continue my running career, it will be an added bonus!