Hannah Woodhouse made her debut at the 2015 World Junior Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China on Saturday, March 28th. After leaving Toronto at 8:00am on Monday, March 23rd and travelling half way around the world, she arrived in China with Team Canada late on Tuesday, March 28th. The Canadian team had a few days to adapt to a 12 hour time difference and and a relatively mild altitude elevation of 1100m, which is twice the elevation of Dundalk.
The team also had a few days to review the course and finalize their race plan.Race day was 22'C and overcast on an extremely challenging course full of steep hills, numerous sharp turns and lots of mud. In addition to the tough natural terrain, to make the course even more difficult, the runners had to jump over several man-made barriers. The Junior Women made 3 laps of the 2km course with 101 competitors on the starting line. The gun went off and the beginning pace was severe as the Ethiopian's and Kenyan's lead the pack. After 200m there was a sharp hair-pin turn so getting a good start was crucial to gain a favourable position and continued sharp turns with lots of mud made it difficult for all the runners to get set into a regular rhythm.
Hannah came through the first lap [2km] in 58th spot in 7:10 minutes, with the top 10 leaders going through in 6:23 minutes. After 4km, Hannah's pace slowed a bit to 7:38 and dropped a few spots to 63rd spot and 2nd member on the Canadian team. The blistering pace set by the Ethiopians and Kenyans took its toll on the entire field on the final lap. Woodhouse finished in 60th spot, stopping the clock in 22:57 with her last 2km lap done in 8:09. With such a high quality field, only 5 seconds separated 8 women from 57th to 64th spot. Two other ladies had the exact same time as Hannah as a lady from China was just a "nose" ahead of Hannah and Woodhouse beating out the lady from Japan.
Ethiopia swept the podium with 1st to 3rd spots and took 5 of the top 6 positions. The top three Ethiopian times for the demanding 6km race were 19:48, 19:49 and 19:53. Kenya placed 2nd overall taking 4th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 13th spots. Team Canada's Junior Women's team placed 13th of 16 teams with individual performances of 42nd, 60th [Hannah], 70th, 75, and 94th. One of the Canadian girls had a rough start and pulled out of the race part way through the second lap. It is evident though that as strong as Canada's distance runners are on a national scale, on an international scale we do have some work to do. In the Junior Men's 8km race, they placed 16th of 20 teams. The Senior Women took 10th of 12 teams over the 8km course, while in the Senior Men's 12km race, Canada placed 17th of 17 teams. The Ethiopian and Kenyan teams placed either 1st or 2nd in every race.