Mike Tate has reached another milestone in a stellar – and still blossoming – athletic career.
The Heatherton, Antigonish County native will don the Team Canada singlet for the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
“Everything that I did this fall was building towards that one,” Tate said of his second-place finish in the 10k discipline for senior men at the 2018 Canadian Cross Country Championships.
With his 30:07 clocking, the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals’ product only trailed Lucas Bruchet, who secured his third Canadian crown.
On race day (Nov. 24), Tate and the other competitors faced a mixed bag, when it came to weather conditions, including rain and snow.
“It was frozen but, as the day wore on, and more and more people ran on it and it warmed up a bit, the snow and the ice started to melt,” he recalled of the course conditions.
Once the gun sounded, Bruchet – also a 2016 Canadian Olympian in the 5,000m – bolted to the lead.
“He went straight to the front and I was the only one to really go with him,” Tate said.
The duo pulled away from the pack in the 10k discipline, by the time they completed the first two kilometres of the four-loop course.
With approximately 400m remaining in the second lap, while making a right-hand turn, Tate slipped and fell in the mud.
“Luc got a little bit of a gap on me, but I was able to close it in the next 500m or so, but then another 600 or 700 metres after that, he started pulling away,” he said.
From there, Tate added, he focussed on maintaining his second-place position and a berth on Team Canada.
“I am looking forward to the experience,” he said.
It will be his second time competing in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. In 2013, as a junior, he represented Canada in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
When Tate spoke to the Casket, he was coming off a “down week,” one where he did not run.
“Just, kind of, to recover and rest; give my body a little bit of a break before ramping up training again,” he explained.
When he laces up the cleats, once again, his sights will be set on readying for the world competition, which is set for March 30.
Before taking the international stage, Tate and Team Canada will race in the 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in mid-February.
“I will be sitting down with my coach Dave Scott-Thomas this week to figure all that out,” Tate said of his upcoming schedule, which he predicted could include a couple indoor races.
He teamed up with the highly-regarded mentor and Speed River Track and Field Club of Guelph, Ontario, in July.
“I think his program and his system has been working really well for me,” Tate said of the fledgling collaboration.
He noted Scott-Thomas coached Antigonish native and three-time Olympian Eric Gillis.
“It is working well and I am pleased with my results, so far,” Tate added.
The summer move to central Canada came after Tate wrapped up his time as a student-athlete with the NCAA’s Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
Along with competing in cross country and track and field, he graduated in the spring with an accounting degree.
“I was pleased with my five years there. I was able to accomplish one of my goals – earning All-American status – which I did during the indoor season, placing fourth in the indoor 5k,” Tate said.
As for his final outdoor season, it did not turn out like he hoped.
“Just after the indoor season finished I got mono and I didn’t realize I had it, so I ran through it, and my performances took a hit,” Tate noted.
Nevertheless, the student-athlete earned a spot in the NCAA championships in June.
“But, in that race, it didn’t go very well and it certainly wasn’t what I was looking for,” Tate said.
Even with that disappointment, it did not tarnish his “great experience” running collegiately in the United States.
The immediate focus for Tate is the upcoming international cross country competitions, but that doesn’t mean the goal of representing Canada in the Summer Olympics is not on his radar.
“Dave and I have already sat down and talked about, basically, what we can do to set up a strong 2020 to try to get on that Tokyo Olympic team,” he said.
“This fall was focussed on making the world cross team, but everything – in the bigger picture – is focussed on having the best 2020 that I can.”
The discipline of choice, when it comes to achieving that Olympic dream, will be the 5,000 or 10,000m.
“They would be my best shot, as of right now,” Tate said.
For information on the 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships, visit www.athleticsnacac.org, and more on the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, go to www.iaaf.org.