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Former Osoyoos runner is thrilled to be new national ultramarathon champion
For a runner who ran her first big race only two years ago, Stacie Carrigan-Moreira continues to prove she’s one of the best long distance runners in Canada.
Carrigan-Moreira, who was born and raised in Osoyoos and now lives in Kelowna, is the new national ultramarathon champion for women after claiming the title at the Run for the Toad 50K national championships in Paris, Ont. on Oct. 5.
“I was ecstatic with my performance,” said Carrigan-Moreira, who recently competed at the World Ultramarathon Championships in Wales in June. “I wasn’t expecting to win, even though I had been training very hard and thought I had a shot to do well.
“To become a national champion in a sport I love is really an honour.”
At the world championships in Wales, Carrigan-Moreira finished 13th in the world on a 50-mile course.
She claimed the national championship by improving her personal best time by more than 15 minutes, finishing the grueling course in 3:57.18.
“This was a personal best over 50 kilometres and I was only the second female to finished that course in under four hours in the 12 years they have been running the nationals at this location, so I obviously had a very good day,” said Carrigan-Moreira.
Stacey Cleveland, a fellow member of the Okanagan Running Club out of Kelowna, finished third in the race and provided competition and inspiration during the race, she said.
“You often run long stretches without seeing anyone in this sport, but Stacey caught up to me a few times during the race and we talked a little and that provided enough motivation to keep me moving and in front of her,” she said. “She is a good friend, but we’re both competitors and it was nice to have her battling me for the top spot throughout the race.”
While she enjoys running marathons and road races, Carrigan-Moreira says her real passion has become and will remain ultramarathon running along courses that wind through fields, trails and mountain passes.
“I don’t think I would give up the trails for the road, even thought I do enjoy both,” she said. “Road marathons are definitely fun and exciting, but as far as my training and running, trail running is in my heart and where my passion lies.
“It’s a totally different experience to run in the mountains and see the beauty of nature while enjoying the sport you love. I would never give up ultra running for marathons.”
That being said, Carrigan-Moreira has qualified to compete in the world’s most prestigious marathon – the Boston Marathon – next April and will spend the entire winter preparing for what she hopes will be an unforgettable experience.
“I have qualified for Boston and made the decision a few days ago that I am going to go,” she said. “That will be my next big race and I know it will be very exciting.”
After a hectic few months of training, Carrigan-Moreira plans to slow down on running and concentrate on participating on other sports she enjoys to stay in shape over the next several months.
“I’m heading into my off-season and the plan is to maintain my fitness by enjoying cross-country and downhill skiing, which are two sports I also love a lot,” she said. “I will cut back on the running quite a bit as I need to let the body recover and then get back at it early next year.”
The world ultramarathon championships are scheduled for Latvia next June and Carrigan-Moreira tentatively plans on competing in that event and improving on her 13th-place finish from this year.
Carrigan-Moreira works as a dental assistant in Kelowna and says her boss and co-workers have been tremendously supportive of her running career.
“I don’t miss a lot of work, but when I need some time to head off to a major competition, there’s never any problem,” she said. “The people at work have been more than understanding and very supportive and I really appreciate it.”
Carrigan-Moreira was looking forward to returning to visit her family over the Thanksgiving holiday long weekend and saying hello to old friends from Osoyoos.