Cross-country athlete Martha MacDonald on joining Team Canada

Martha MacDonald took home bronze at the Pan American Cross Country Championships in February in San Salvador.


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MacDonald will race at the Stanford invitational at the end of March

At age 18, Georgetown University runner Martha MacDonald is a member of Team Canada’s junior cross-country team and clinched a bronze medal in El Salvador earlier this year. For her to be so accomplished at a young age, you might guess that she’s been running almost since before she could walk.

But MacDonald says she wasn’t serious about running until Grade 10, when she joined the University of Toronto Track Club (UTTC) after running on the cross-country and track teams at Havergal College. 

“Like all kids, I ran at the meets in elementary school,” she says. “I thought it was kind of cool, and when some of my friends joined UTTC together to run, I decided to get into it, too.” 

MacDonald knew running was the sport for her after her first Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) cross-country meet in Grade 10. 

“I must have come in 60th or 70th, but I just remember seeing the girls who were up front and how tough they were, and I wanted to be like that too.” 

MacDonald has done that and more, becoming the 2016 Senior Girls OFSAA Cross Country champion and the 2017 OFSAA Track and Field Championships runner-up before heading off to Georgetown University. 

As a member of Team Canada’s junior cross-country team, she took home bronze at the Pan American Cross Country Championships in February in San Salvador.

She cites her coach Hillary Adamson while at Havergal and Taras Radchenko from UTTC as two huge influences in getting her to where she is now. 

MacDonald says she’s grateful to have found running. 

“The best part about it is doing something every day that you really love. I don’t think a lot of people get the opportunity to do that until they’re much older.” 

However, she notes that running doesn’t come without challenges. 

“I think in being a female athlete, especially in running, there’s a lot of pressure put on you to look a certain way. But I’ve been lucky to have some great female role models in the sport that have shown me you have to be healthy to run fast.” 

MacDonald will race her first five-kilometre race on the track at the Stanford invitational competition, March 30 to 31, and will be running the Canadian Track and Field Championships in July. She hopes to qualify for the International Association of Athletics Federations World Junior Championships in Finland, which would require her to be in the top two in Canada by the end of the qualifying period. 

“Down the road, we’ll see. Everyone always says they want to go to the Olympics. Obviously I do, too,” MacDonald says. “But you never know where a sport might take you, so I’m taking it one step at a time.”

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