Angus Rawling will defend his 3,000m national title this weekend in the U Sports track and field championships at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
The St. F.X. student-athlete punched his ticket to the competition with a blistering gold-medal run in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championships. His 8:18.82 eclipsed an almost 30-year-old record in the discipline (8:25.7), one set by Moncton's Joel Bourgeois in 1991.
“A few weeks ago, I was down in Boston and ended up getting a personal best, so it gave me the confidence going into the [AUS] race that I could chase that record,” the Calgary native said.
“I went into the race thinking I was going to take it out, at least at record pace, and see how things were feeling. If it was not feeling so good, we would sit back and just try for the win and, if I was feeling good, we would continue to go after it.”
Rawling went after it.
After the first kilometre, which he described as “a little fast,” Rawling said he continued to feel “really, really good.”
“I kept pushing and it felt pretty consistent and smooth the whole way.
“The guys, kind of, just let me go, so I had the space and the confidence. I didn’t have someone chasing me, so I didn’t have to make it a tactical race and save anything until the end. I was able to run my race.”
Midway through the race, Rawling got word he was on a conference record-setting pace – 10 seconds or so below the existing mark.
“I realized I had a good shot because of that time and I was still feeling pretty good and I wasn’t hurting too much,” he said.
“At that point, I decided I was going to really commit myself to trying to break the record, and keeping the flow going in the second half that I had going in the first half.”
Rawling also raced to a silver-medal winning time (3:56.19) in the 1500m, trailing only Saint Mary’s Andrew Peverill, who overtook him with a big kick in the final lap.
“I don’t have some of the basic speed that guys have, like Andrew and Hudson [Grimshaw-Surette from Dalhousie], where they are able to run a ‘k’ in two minutes and 20 some-odd seconds. I would, probably, be at 2:28 or 2:29, while they are doing it in 2:23,” Rawling said, with a laugh, when asked how the 3,000m meshes with his running ability.
“I work a lot more at getting my volume in, getting fit enough that I can hold that sure pace for a bit longer and really focus on getting the most out of my fitness and being able to control the race that way, instead of relying on pure speed.”
Goal for nationals
As for having the opportunity to repeat as national champion, Rawling described topping the podium in 2018, with a laugh, as “pretty amazing and a little bit unexpected.”
“So, this year, if I am able to go in there and give another try – like I did last year; coming out with a win would be amazing but a top-three finish would be a realistic goal going in,” he said.
The 2018 AUS men’s champion in cross country noted his focus on modifying his approach from last fall’s appearance in that national championship race.
“Thinking about each part of the race instead of what it will be like when it is over,” Rawling said.
“I got caught up doing that a little bit during cross country – thinking about ‘if I win this, this will happen, and it will feel this good,’ where, last year, when I was going to nationals, I was thinking about each component of the race and what I had to do through every moment of that race to make myself successful.
“I am going to take that mindset from last year into this one – it is about not getting ahead of myself, which will be a key heading into this one,” he added.