In Addy Townsend’s case, there was never any question about “going anywhere else.” Not because she isn’t an extremely good runner — far from it. No, it’s because everyone in her family has either ran or is running at SFU. Oh, and her mother, Brit Townsend, is the coach of the team.
“Obviously it has its pros and cons sometimes,” said Townsend on having her mother as her coach. “She tries to tell me ‘OK, you know, don’t talk back to me in front of people,’ and it’s hard, because at home obviously that happens. I respect her a lot, she’s a great coach and she is going to be a part of my future for a long time. So I think it’s just trying to really focus on her as a coach, which is really hard sometimes.”
With her mom as the coach, her older sister Dana on the team, and her father a former runner at SFU, it’s no surprise that her family life revolves around running.
“Probably if people come for dinner they think ‘Wow, do you guys ever stop talking about track?’ [. . .] We watched the Olympics, [and now] we’re watching it on demand, every single night, watching every race over and over.
“I went with track and I’m really happy, and I think it was the right choice for me.”
“It’s just kind of how we’ve grown up. We’ve always been at SFU with all the teams, the whole team going up to Whistler since we were born. It’s just kind of my life forever, going to SFU.”
Townsend was also a high-level soccer player growing up. She played on provincial teams with such players as SFU’s Jenna Baxter before deciding to focus on a career in track.
“Having my mom as my coach she was always leaning towards track for me, for my future,” she explained. “I stopped in Grade 12 because I was going to try and do both [track and soccer] at SFU actually, but it just didn’t work because it’s too hard [doing] two sports plus school and travelling. I went with track and I’m really happy, and I think it was the right choice for me.”
Now that she is at SFU competing, her and her teammates’ goal this season is to retake the GNAC championship. The Clan won the title in 2014, only to lose it the following year.
“Last year was pretty hard,” said Townsend. “We didn’t have the best team chemistry, and I think this year we were really working on it in Whistler. The bond with our team is really strong, and I think it’s hard to get [that], as track [and cross country] is more individual. So I think this year we have a really good chance.”
Townsend further elaborated on the difficulties of being a team player in a sport as individualistic as running.
“For me, I played soccer my whole life until Grade 12, so I think I have a lot of team spirit, and I really try and bring it to the team,” Townsend said. “But I find that having a background in team bond[ing] is really important. Just try to really focus on being a team instead of if someone passes you, thinking ‘Oh, well it’s done.’
“In cross country you just need to work together, because you can’t get to nationals with one person,” she continued. “If we all want to go, it’s everybody stepping up to the plate, not just one person.”
Another challenge is being constantly on the road. Unlike the soccer team for example, SFU cross country doesn’t have any meets at home; they are constantly on the road competing.
“School is definitely tough, but our team is really good on trips,” she said. “Everyone is down in the lobby, talking, doing their homework, on the bus we all have our books out, so I think it’s just [about] getting used to that. [. . .] It was tough the first year, but now you kind of get in the hang of it.”
A health science major, Townsend plans to be a realtor after she graduates, but also wants to run as long as possible after her collegiate career.
“I think sometimes after university, it can be a huge jump,” Townsend said. “But I think that’s where a lot of things can happen. I want to take it as far as I can and see what happens.
“I want to run as long as I can. I think it’s a possibility for anyone, so I want to take that as far as I can. With my mom too, I think that can happen.”
FUN FACT: Go-to pump-up song?
I like rap, so [usually] some Drake. [. . .] I don’t actually have a favourite song [of his], I just roll through any song that’s really really good.