Josh Kozelj. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Vikes Communications

Josh Kozelj will get the opportunity to test his mettle against some of the strongest road runners in the world this weekend, after he was selected to compete for Athletics B.C. at the Canadian 10-km Championship in Ottawa, Ont.

“It’s such a privilege to compete against some of the finest runners not only in Canada but also from the USA and around the world,” said Kozelj. “Just to be someone who is listed alongside that group is honestly pretty special.”

Taking place on May 26, the race will pit Kozelj against not only an incredibly competitive field, but also against a daunting road course on the streets of Ottawa.

“Still young for a 10-km athlete, Josh has made huge inroads this year,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “We decided to focus on the roads this spring to help Josh build race experience and endurance for the future. This race will be the most competitive race he has ever been in and should set him up really well for the fall cross country season.”

With the race being one of only four IAAF Golf Label 10-km races in the world, it is sure to attract one of the world’s best fields of pro runners.

“The biggest thing I can gain from competing against them is confidence. In the past I feel I have lacked confidence, and found myself pretty intimated by high calibre runners,” said Kozelj. “I think lining up beside some world-class runners at the start, will give me that confidence to tell myself ‘yes, I am good enough to be here.’ and I look forward to taking that mentality into next cross country season, as well as the indoor track season.”

Picked for the team because of his great results so far this road racing season, the second-year Vike is just one of just two male athletes that will represent Athletics B.C. at the championship.

Kozelj turned his attention to road-racing after taking some time off at the conclusion of the Vikes 2018 track season. Running 15:10 in the Bazan 5-km was good enough for Kozelj to win that race and he followed that up with an outstanding 15th-place finish in the Vancouver Sun Run, crossing the line in a time of 30:57.

“With the guidance of my coaches, I am really happy with how my training has gone, and I think it showed in a couple of the road races I ran back in April,” said Kozelj. “I have to credit Brent, Hillary (Stellingwerff), and Marilyn (Arsenault) for telling me to take downtime after indoor season, and the training plan they came up with that was able to get me in maybe the best shape of my life.”

Kozelj, a native of Coquitlam, B.C., earned Canada West Second Team All-Star honours at the U SPORTS Cross Country National Championship in November, and is thrilled to have the chance to represent both his province and his university in Ottawa.

“It is s a huge honour, growing up in B.C., wearing the ‘British Columbia’ singlet on my chest was something I always dreamed about,” said Kozelj. “Honestly, it’s kind of a hard feeling to describe, but I feel incredibly privileged to not only represent British Columbia, but also UVic at Nationals. I look forward to giving it all for my province and university, and making my coaches and teammates proud.”

The race gets underway at 6:30 a.m. EST, on May 26 with the start line located at City Hall in the nation’s capital.