Volume 93, Issue 34
Friday, October 29, 1999
Keeping the pace with runner Jim Wardle
WITH HAIR THAT FLOWS IN THE WIND. Jim Wardle, captain of the Western cross country team, is hoping to lead his team in to the OUA championship this weekend.
By Sean Maraj
The world is a rat race and Jim Wardle, captain of the Western men's cross country team, is leading the pack as he continues his fifth year as a long distance runner for the Mustangs.
Wardle, currently a student at Althouse college, said he has been running since Grade 11. Eight years later, he's leading one of the best teams in the country.
"I used to be a high jumper, but I just didn't get any practice in high school," Wardle said. "In Grade 10, I was in a fitness class and I ran with a friend everyday. He was very successful and I kept up with him. The next year I just tried it and I was decent at it."
Over the years of running, Wardle has accomplished many feats, but pointed to his national championship track and field win in March, 1997, as his favourite.
But the race which stands out in Wardle's mind the most is the 1996 nationals, where he not only had to overcome a long distance, but terrible weather and surface conditions. "It was horrible," Wardle said. "A 10 kilometre course, six of it uphill, knee deep in mud in some places, typhoon winds and I loved every moment of it."
In terms of his inspirations, Wardle pointed to one of the most famous names in the distance runner field. The man who broke the coveted four minute mile Roger Bannester.
Wardle's commitment to running has become an addiction which is a major part of his everyday life and not just a sport he participates in at school.
"If a day goes by and I don't run, it just feels weird. If you're having a good day it just makes it better. If you're having a bad day, it makes you feel better," he said. "All the best points in my life are related to running. Most of my best friends are runners."
Recently, Wardle had to adjust to being a leader on the team, rather than just a competitor. He cited his strongest leadership skill as his ability to communicate. "Cross country is really mental and you're in a lot of pain. Some workouts can be tough and I just try to keep spirits up."
Longtime coach Bob Vigars pointed to Wardle's competitive nature as one of his biggest strengths. "Jim is a very interesting guy, he's a real competitor and he has a real competitive heart," Vigars said.
He also pointed to Wardle's personality as a strength brought to the team. "Jim is nuts, that's what I like about him. He's a different guy," Vigars said. "He's like Bill Nye, the Science Guy. He handles himself well with pressure and he's very supportive of his teammates."
Wardle's personality off the field was also mentioned by teammate Jason Eddy. "Jim's just weird, he's not too bizarre. He just doesn't care what other people think of him." he said.
Eddy added Wardle is a great leader for his teammates. "He's got a good work ethic and sets a good example for the other runners. He's easy going in social situations and wants to make sure everyone is having a good time."
Wardle said he is confidant in his team, especially with the national championships only a few weeks away.
"Nationally, we could finish in the top five. The team is coming together and we usually do well at the [Ontario University Athletics championships]," Wardle said.
As for plans beyond Western and running, Wardle said he looks towards a future working and instructing people. "Ultimately, I would want to teach [physical education] at the high school level," he said.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999