WINDSOR, N.S. - Meredith Chambers has taken on a lot in her final year at King’s-Edgehill School in Windsor, Nova Scotia.
She’s the head girl, working hard in the International Baccalaureate program and is the captain of the snowboard cross team. But one of the most demanding aspects of her life, cross-country running, is also how she de-stresses.
“It’s been really hectic and really busy; I’m going from morning until night,” Chambers said. “Cross-country is a release from a lot of it.”
With the IB program, the 17-year-old is dealing with major assessments, labs and other obstacles inside the classroom.
“Cross-country is an outlet for me,” she said. “We got to a lot of different places and trails around the area and being together as a team has been really nice this year.”
She's been running cross-country for several years now.
“I started in Grade 7, and I was more casual with it then, but I decided to try a bit harder in Grade 10,” she said. “It was going really well in Grade 10, but I wasn’t able to race in Grade 11 because I was injured. But now I’m back.”
Chambers competes in the distance events: 800, 1,500 and 3,000 metres.
“At first, I didn’t really love running that much, and I don’t think many do when they start out. It is kind of difficult,” she said. “But the more you run, the more enjoyable it is. You do get the runner’s high, so to speak.”
Chambers, who is from Falmouth, is ramping up for regional and provincial track meets in October, meaning she’s right in the thick of training.
That means training and practices six days a week, averaging a distance of 50 kilometres each week.
“There’s really strong competitors, like some of the best in the country are in Halifax right now, so I’m not completely sure how I’ll do,” she said.
Although Chambers was unable to compete last season due to an injury, she’s happy to be back on the field this year.
“I’ve only had a short season. I’ve only been able to train for the past two months,” she said. “I’m pretty proud of being able to come back after being out for almost a year.”
She spent a lot of time biking and swimming over the winter to keep up her fitness in preparation for coming back to track.
Chambers is also the captain of the snowboard cross team, something she’s been involved with since Grade 7.
“It’s just really fun and the course is always different,” she said. “We have a lot of people at the school that do it, and it’s fun to try to figure out the fastest way to get down.”
When she graduates from KES, Chambers is hoping to continue in track at the varsity level, although she’s keeping her options open for where and what she’ll study.
Her teacher and coach, Phillip Hadley, said he’s incredibly proud of how far Chambers has come and is admittedly a little upset when he notes that this is her last year at the school.
“Meredith has done very well; she placed first in the 3,000, first in the 1,500, and first in the 800, which is outstanding on many levels,” Hadley said. “On the track team, now in her senior year, it’s very evident to me… Meredith has taken on the leadership role very well.”
Hadley said Chambers steps up when she needs to, whether it’s leading a training exercise or helping a fellow athlete who is having a rough day.
“She might slow down during a part of her run in order to run with someone else,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to the team’s cohesion to Meredith.”
He's thrilled to see her improvement as an athlete.
“Some people improve as athletes because they go through a character change, but that’s not really the case with Meredith. Since I’ve known her, she’s always had a great work ethic,” he said. “The same attributes that make her successful on the track and on the cross-country trails, I see in the classroom.”
Hadley also said Chambers has been a key figure in growing enthusiasm for running at the school.
“Last year, and throughout the winter, was not a happy time for her; she really stepped up and matured as an athlete through her injury and was resilient throughout it,” he said. “It is clearly something that will be a positive for her in the future.”