Not out of the running for long
Although Kelly Wiebe won the first race of his cross-country career, the University of Regina student-athlete freely admitted that he didn’t see himself going very far in the sport.
“My [high school] phys-ed teacher was actually my cross-country coach and he asked me to come out to a cross-country practice, so I came out and practiced with the team,” Wiebe recalled. “I went to a meet in a town called Rosetown and I placed first in that event. To be honest, I thought it would just be to the end of high school and I would be done.”
Following his fateful first race, Wiebe ran for a number of years before graduating from Swift Current Comprehensive High School as what he described as an “average runner.”
Despite his stark self-assessment, Wiebe was offered scholarships from a number of “low key” university cross-country programs across North America.
Wiebe eventually agreed to take his talents to the U of R and the rest, as they say, is history.
Although Wiebe joked that more programs would have courted him if recruiters had the ability to see him a few years into the future, he is also quick to insist there is no comparison to be made between his abilities as an athlete then and now.
Wiebe, who is currently studying to become an engineer at the U of R, took his running to a whole new level a few years ago.
“In my second year of university, I made a big jump from my first year,” Wiebe explained. “I kind of took the summer off of running – I went out to B.C. to go tree planting – and I came back and I was very motivated to train hard. I started to train really hard and I had the best season of my life.”
Despite Wiebe’s training regimen bringing him to where he is today – the Cougars runner has represented the U of R at several Canada West and CIS championships – his devotion to running has also proven to be a double-edged sword.
“During the summer, I competed in China,” Wiebe said. “During that time, I strained my calf muscle and that took me out of the competition. I kind of rushed back into things too fast, because the cross-country season was starting up. My calf injury kind of turned into an Achilles injury and over-compensation on that side turned into shin splints on the other side. It all got out of hand because I wanted to train through it for the season; it wasn’t a smart idea.
“I should have taken a couple weeks off totally to let everything heal up. Looking back, it was an obvious decision, but I got greedy.”
Moving forward, Wiebe, who is a three-time Canada West gold medalist in the 3,000-metre event, is hoping to be back to his old self within a few weeks and back to his winning ways when he returns to action.
“I’m hoping to be back to 100 per cent by the New Year,” Wiebe said. “I’m red-shirting this year at the university, so I can’t compete in the indoor season at all. During the outdoor season, I’m going to hopefully run a meet at the beginning of May in Stanford. Then I’m going to do some road races and get ready for the cross season in September.”
Although Wiebe’s forthcoming campaign at the university will be his final season as a Cougar, if all goes according to his plans, the 22-year-old won’t be done with running any time soon.
“I truly believe that I can go to the Olympics,” said Wiebe, who has competed in Asia, Europe, and across North America. “I’ve competed against guys that have gone to the Olympics and I’ve been right there with them, so there’s no reason that I don’t have a shot.
“I feel that if I really want to be completely satisfied when I walk away from the sport, I’ve got to go to the Olympics.”