Wow, hype. If you’re reading this that means you have opened your fortune cookie and followed the map hidden inside to the final destination, RunningHotTakes.com. If you didn’t happen to go to the one Japanese restaurant that may or may not have helped us with this special promo, that means you’re likely a veteran fan of Not Trackie. Or maybe (pause for dramatic effect) you’re about to become one. Either way, nice! Enjoy the new look, OR DON’T.
ANYWAY… it’s been a long University season (literally long, Usports is a week later than it normally is). Throughout the last 12 or so weeks teams have been battling it out on XC courses across the country, and I have had absolutely nothing to say about it. There are a few reasons for the silence: putting work into this site, supporting the Guelph XC team with their grievances against their ignorant university administration (a battle that continues), trying to get my (relatively) old ass into shape for one last ride… BUT NO LONGER. In a few days the main event will go down on Les Plains d’Abraham, and whether or not I think it’s inconsistent for the French to spell “Plains” with an “a” instead of an “e” doesn’t matter. So we spoke to some sources. We got some data. And unlike Sebastian Saville’s crazy intense artificial intelligence XC spreadsheet (respect for putting that together holy cow), we are going to use ACTUAL INTELLIGENCE combined with words that we will organize in an interesting and very chaotic way to bring what some people are calling the Not Trackie 2021 Usports XC Fun Zone.
The Queens Gaels have done well despite some pretty brutal administrative decisions from their own athletics department prior to the pandemic, with Tori Bouck leading the way to a fourth-place team finish at OUA. I think I would have placed this team in the top 10, but sources are telling me there may be some Usports absences due to academic ninja abilities. Gotta respect the smarts… Toronto placed fifth at OUA and Jazz Shukla is dropping low-stick performances, but the rookies on the team aren’t as musical (yet!)… I have to shout out the Alberta women because they responded to our access to information request and claimed the guys are funnier than they are. I can confirm the men’s team at Alberta is indeed funny, but I feel like the women are just being modest here. Although they aren’t sending a full team this year, Olivia Cooper and Jasmine Feddema could still tear it up out there… Lastly, I have to shout out UVic for continually strapping into what they describe as the “best” post-race festivity outfits. They’re in tough with a lot of inexperienced rookies this year but I’m sure veterans Georgia Ginther and Bridget Mateyko will keep that tradition going. With COVID-19 being a factor, a get-together is a bit precarious. May I present to you my idea of a BYOP (bring your own parka) party on Les Plaines after the race. I think UVic would impress once again.
Verdict: Needs more manteau.
We all know about the DINOS, but not much is known about the women’s side of the equation. It appears this squad has been doing a deep dive into equations, the optimization kind in particular. Apparently the team has been hacking university computer servers to run complex codes that have allowed them to make some pretty significant discoveries. These include the optimal pre- and post-race chip consumption, running to swimming ratio, and tattoo location. I am not sure if it is first-year engineering wizard Sihaam Khalid –who placed 11th at CanWest– leading this effort, but with veterans-at-being-a-veteran Kelsey Serviss and Meghan Manor providing the experience a top 10 finish is within reach.
Verdict: Needs more massages (per sources).
9. Montreal We were slacking on the sources here so this team gets to keep their deep dark secrets to themselves. But I really want to know what a Carabin is. Like I sort-of-not-really tried to find out and came up empty handed. Info about this team and this school is shuttered harder than that French Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I tried to infiltrate their walls and was met with une vache being launched from a catapult while being professionally insulted. Murielle Aglot is a ’96 and her talent and experience should bring a decently low score to help out Myriam Poirier, their cow, and the rest of the team chirp the other squads while running fast.
Verdict: Needs more scouting.
Folks, the dudes at St. FX continue to grind the hardest I mean these guys find time to rip chel, make podcasts, AND go competitive spectator mode in support of every St. FX sports team while recovering from their workouts, and you KNOW Eric Gillis is prescribing them with mile repeats through swamps to race moose. Five years ago, after placing seventh in 2015, they thought they were going to crack the top five. Alex Cyr even wrote a book about it. I was there to competitively spectate as they choked to 10th, and no AUS team has made it back into the top 10 since (that was five years ago??? Jeeze boys). I don’t think this team will make the top 10 this year, but they have earned a permanent spot at the top of the grit rankings for whatever reason and they aren’t coming down any time soon… I don’t think Windsor will be sending a team, but they probably will be sending THEE soup connoisseur Josh Zilles. I’m not sure if soup enhances hair follicles, but those guys continue to rock some pretty sweet mullets… McGill placed second to Laval at RSEQ and Matthew Beaudet is absolutely nasty, but I am not sure that they will be able to sneak into the top 10.
Verdict: Needs more soup.
In 2019 I said that if a team from the AUS could crack the top 10 I would “purchase them all a glass of milk. Mooo…” The offer still stands, and I think the Tigers might be able to do it. Will Cox’s sausage diet seems to be paying off even though it goes against the advice of every dietician out there. I just hope he’s got the right kind of mustard. Supporting him are a couple of Grimshaw-Surette’s who have turned their basement into a fight club and have been teaching the rest of the team how to throw down. Combine that with a few fiscal hours of cash cab, the Mull River Shuffle, and hype man Nick Robertson and holy heck, I think writing this has made them my favourite team.
Verdict: Needs more milk.
Despite being a de-facto exporter of talent for UBC this time around, UVic still has Brandon Vail to lead the squad as well as rookie phenom Daniel Damian who sources are saying has decided to go Greek god mode this year, whatever that means. This team loves to listen to Nickelback while crushing weights, and we all know the raspy voice of Chad Kroeger enhances the training effect. That could bode well for their handling of the treacherous hills of Les Plaines, which should seem like babies compared to the routine Rocky Mountain repeats these guys do on a daily, or even hourly, basis.
Verdict: Needs even more Chad (good luck with that).
More to come (Part 2)…