Rachael Watkins loves to run, and you can see the passion light up her eyes when she talks about it.
“My brother likes to challenge me by racing me, but that’s not why I do it,” says Rachael. “There’s this feeling that you’re so free when you run, and there are no criteria. You just go and run and do your best.”
A Grade 7 student at Caulfeild iDEC, Rachael has been surrounded by people passionate about running and sports since early childhood. Her brother, Matt, a student in Grade 10 at Rockridge this year, plays baseball for the Coquitlam Reds in the BC Premier Baseball League. Rachael currently plays on the West Vancouver Gold soccer team and also cycles and swims, but it is the training that she’s doing as a runner – with kids and adults – that has captured her heart and sets her apart.
Rachael’s parents are former marathon runners and have always enjoyed running, so it was only natural to open those doors for their children at a very young age.
“My mother developed the interest in me by taking me to the West Vancouver track at four,” relates Rachael. “It would take her so long to get me to stop running, because I just ran and ran, doing something I loved.”
Rachael didn’t just enjoy running – she was very, very good at it. Her mother, Cheryl, made note of her daughter’s passion and talent, and from then on, the family ran regularly together.
Rachael competed in the BMO 8 K Vancouver Marathon this past May, where she placed in the top ten for females under 19. She also participated in the Victoria Youth Triathlon, where she placed 7th following a 200 metre swim, 10 km bike ride and 2 km run. She also competes for Caulfeild in cross country, and last year she placed first in all three races.
“Rachael is very self-motivated,” says her father, Paul. “She’s super athletic and has been taking part for the last five years or so in triathlons – we’re very proud of her achievements.”
Today, she trains with former Canadian National Team Members, Cindy O’Krane and Darcie Montgomery from the Hershey Harriers Athletic Club.
“Cindy and Darcie are helping me to work on my endurance right now, so we run intervals around the field and then up to West Vancouver Secondary School from Ambleside” says Rachael.
Next year, she plans to attend West Vancouver Secondary School, so that she can have regular access to the track, though she’s already running with the Harriers once a week, and practices what she’s been coached to do during the week.
“We do lots of circuit training, hurdles, planks, push ups and longer runs,” Rachael says. “So, at the moment, my focus is on training to pace myself and endurance.”
Staying motivated isn’t difficult, because Rachael can always recall the feeling she gets when she doesn’t feel up to getting out there, but does it anyways.
“Some days, I get injuries or feel lazy,” says Rachael. “But I always find that once I start running, I don’t regret it at all.”
Whether or not she succeeds in getting a future shot at the 800 or 1500 metre for Team Canada, Rachael is having a great time with the support of friends, family and professional athletes.
“My family are my heroes, and my running coaches are too” says Rachael.
It doesn’t get closer to home than that to stay on track. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishments, Rachael. We are proud that you’re making the most of your talents in your school and community.