St. Stephen – Micah Landry, who will be going into tenth grade at St. Stephen High School in September, took home a bronze medal at the Royal Canadian Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships in Sydney, NS this month.
Landry, who has been travelling to Saint John in order to train, took third place in the men’s under 16 1500 meter steeplechase, with a personal best time of 4:35:27.
The 1500 m steeplechase is a race that is three and three quarter laps. After the first 300 meters there are barriers at intervals of 100 meters that athletes have to jump over. “But unlike the hurdles,” said Landry, “the barriers don’t give. So if you hit the steeple the steeple doesn’t move. You do.”
Landry has been doing track and field since the sixth grade, and said he, “Did cross country in elementary school, and though I was pretty horrible – I liked it. So I just kept going.”
At the track and field championships, Landry also competed in the 1200 meter race, placing sixth. “My goal was to place top five in that event. I really started to take a liking to it,” he said.
While he is competing, Landry said he will train really hard in the weeks leading up to the meet, but the week before the competition he tapers off that regime so that he can rest and be at peak performance. Speaking about the so called “runners high”, Landry said, “You just feel like you can run forever. I remember I was doing a run one night, and I didn’t check my watch. When I stopped, I realized I had run for an hour and had gone 17 km. I just kept going. It’s like euphoria.”
Plenty of track and field programs still exist in New Brunswick schools, most of them established during the running boom of the 70s. However, more recently as participation has tapered off, tracks have become unmaintained or surpassed in quality by the facilities available in larger cities. In many smaller schools, track and field programs have been pushed to the wayside for things like soccer and football.
Landry said that while he was in middle school up to 50 students were taking part in track and field programs, but by the time he got to high school the participants had tapered off to only about 10. “It’s completely different,” he said, “and there are kids who could be great, but the opportunity isn’t there. I’m able to go to Saint John and train, but that can add six hours of driving for parents a week, and not everybody is able to do that.”
“I’d like to see the track and field program at SSHS come back,” he added, noting if the program were available to students, it’s likely that more of them would participate and compete in track and field events.