Stacey Cleveland placed 50th among 100 senior women during the 2012 World Mountain Running championship in Temu, Italy.
Cleveland’s other numbers during the 8.8 kilometre race that climbed 760 metres (on the Tonale Pass, a popular Italian skiing destination) tell a different story.
Cleveland led a Canadian foursome that included Catrin Jones, Shannon Penway and Mirabelle Tinio. The Penticton resident accomplished the feat in 55 minutes.
“It was so competitive. I was only eight minutes, 30 seconds back from the winner,” said Cleveland, who grew up in 100 Mile House. “That was the difference between 1st and 50th place. I was just happy to go under an hour. That was my goal.”
Prior to the race, Cleveland was warned by a member of the men’s team that the field would be physical. There would be pushing and shoving, though Cleveland didn’t find it to be too bad.
“There was lot of jostling at the beginning,” she said. “We started in the village. It was a narrow cobblestone street with lots of sharp corners. We basically just got going at a full out sprint. You are running in this group of people and you can’t see your feet. You are trusting that the person in front of you doesn’t go down. It was a little hectic the first couple of kilometres.”
A climb then begins as they head up to Tonale Pass, which is quite steep.
“Some of it you couldn’t run. It was power hikes,” she said.
What she gained was seeing how she ranked against the worlds best runners.
“It’s hard to compete,” said Cleveland, a freelance writer. “A lot of the European teams, they have training programs and training camps and traveling with coaches and managers. Team Canada doesn’t have any funding. We had to pay our own way. The host city provided our accommodations and our food. Expenses were up to each individual athlete. It’s difficult for us to compete with some of the nations that have a lot more funding behind them.”
That didn’t take away what it was like to represent her country, something Cleveland never even thought about.
“It was pretty cool,” she said. “It was quite an honour to represent your country. Certainly embrace the opportunity to do it.”
It could happen in July as she qualified for the 100-km Ultra Trail Championships in Wales. While she hopes to go to that, there is another event in California that interests the former Applied Communication Program student.
Cleveland became interested in long distance running two years ago and her first competition as a 50-km distance in Washington. She hadn’t trained enough and it ended up being one of her most painful races.
“It inspired me to train harder and give it another shot,” said Cleveland, who enjoys training with her energetic border collie lab mix. “It’s been getting more enjoyable.”
Cleveland chalks up Italy as a positive experience. It will help her know what to expect in the future.
“I have never done a race when it’s just been women,” she said. “It does change the dynamics.”