* Toronto, Ontario native Ethan Rashid-Cocker in an XC race this fall
Photo Credit: Submitted
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By Cory Mull - MileSplit
If there's a certain style to Ethan Rashid-Cocker's racing, it's this: Have no fear.
"I'm more of a, I like to lead from the gun," the Toronto, Ontario native said recently. "I usually go out very hard. I always want to be in the front pack. I don't mind leading the front pack. A lot of times, I try to run away from my competitors, which has worked."
And yet, the fun part is only beginning.
That's because the 17-year-old, a grade-12 student at Bloor Collegiate Institute in Toronto, is heading into the most important part of his season yet, with the Ontario Provincial Championships in Uxbridge on Nov. 5 and then Canadian nationals in Ottawa on the 26th.
From there, he'll conclude his season with a date at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships on Dec. 3 in Huntsville, Alabama.
A year ago, Rashid-Cocker, who runs for the University of Toronto Track and Field Club, signed up for the U.S. national team and individual championship but was unable to make the trip to John Hunt Park.
That's not happening this year, he said.
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"It was open to Canadians, so I thought, 'Why not get my name down there?'" said Rashid-Cocker, who currently enters with the fourth-fastest seed time, which is converted down from 6K in 14:35. "It will conclude my season and it's not getting in the way.
"Last year Lex and Leo and all the Newbury Park boys were there. It will be great to line up to all those boys and see what I can do on that day."
There's reason to believe Rashid-Cocker just could have a shot at becoming the first Canadian to take the tape at RunningLane. He's currently among seven boys who are seeded under 14:40.
This year, he's clocked a 6K personal record time of 17:30, a performance that roughly translates to about 14:35 on the 5K course.
"It was on a very flat course and it was in one of our mini-meets," he said. "A lot of the courses are relatively hilly and bad conditions, so once we got this nice, flat course, I talked with my coach and I just decided, you know, why not go for something big here? That was a big moment for me this season."
On top of that, Rashid-Cocker has also gleaned insight over his past year, which has included the step up to the 6K distance, along with a number of races which have tested his resolve.
A year ago, for instance, he found himself hurting in the last 1K of Provincials.
"I was leading the pack. In that last 1K, my body started to break down," he said. "I could feel the pack kind of catching me. I dug down and found an extra gear and started to create a gap with the field. It was tough. The 6K distance I was a little new to last year. There was another gear. I found it in me that day. I was happy to come away with the win last year."
Rashid-Cocker says he knows he may have to adjust his racing style just slightly in these next few weeks. It's one thing, he said, to race against local competition in smaller meets, in environments where he can comfortable take out the pace.
It's another to go toe-to-toe with "some big names and some fast people," he said.
He says his adjustments might include "possibly sitting and kicking out with maybe 1,200m to 1,500m to go," he said.
But ultimately, he added, something internal just has to drive him in those final moments.
"I guess I learned, through racing specifically, that you always have more in you," he said. "Whenever you're at that level, you can always ask yourself, 'Can I give it more?' And the answer is usually yes.
"I've learned that I can push myself, my body, harder than my mind wants me to sometimes."
First up is Canada.
And then from there, Rashid-Cocker will certainly try to compete on the highest of levels at RunningLane.
Will he go for the win?
"When the time is right," he said. "I will try to make my move and not look back and hopefully chase after one of those athletes."