The Canterbury Invitational has been The Gunnery Cross Country Team’s season-opener for a long time. The meet takes place on Canterbury’s campus and hosts 35 different private schools from all around New England. This year the race was on September 21, 2019, and a total of 14 athletes (7 boys and 7 girls) from The Gunnery ran. This year in particular, the girls team came out of the meet victorious.
The meet is divided into Division One races and Division Two races, for both boys and girls, with a total of four races. The divisions are based on the size of each school; The Gunnery, Canterbury, and Pomfret for example, run in the Division Two race, while larger schools like Hotchkiss and Loomis Chaffee compete in the Division One race.
The course itself has not changed since 2016: it is a standard cross country course with a hill tucked away in the back of the course around mile two. It is not a particularly slow course (that is, it does not have a surplus of turns and hills), but rather it consists of straightaways and fields.
Despite this being one of the easiest courses on our schedule, for the past two years The Gunnery’s boys have struggled to run fast times on it. This could be a result of not racing for a while and not staying composed during race time.
The girls, after taking a third place finish last year, won the D2 race. After placing three in the top ten, the girls’ team secured at least a podium finish. Giana Russillo and Eujin Shin worked together through the majority of the race up until around the 2.5 mile mark when Eujin pulled away, finishing in 4th with a time of 21:18 and Gianna in 5th running a 21:27. Mackenzie Teper 21’ finished in 8th place with a respectable 22:32.
It’s always exciting to come back to campus with a cup, especially when it’s from Canterbury.
I have been to the Canterbury Invitational each year since my freshman year; this year was my fourth and final time competing. To give some context as to how badly I run at Canterbury, my Freshman year at the invitational was my fastest time on the course.
Obviously, I’ve improved as a runner since my freshman year, but it’s fascinating to see how my performance at the Canterbury races have hardly differed. Despite personal failures at The Canterbury Invitational, the meet is undoubtedly the most iconic race of the season and probably my own favorite because of its historic past and the competitive field of participants.