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Three generations helped train 1200 meter runner for BC Summer Games

Three generations of a family came together to help 14-year-old Azalea Cartwright to train for the 1200m race she competed in during the BC Summer Games held at Masich Place Stadium in Prince George from July 21 to 24.

A few weeks ago there was a loose-limbed runner tearing up the track at Masich Place Stadium one sunny afternoon.

There was a woman strategically seated near the home stretch of the track a short distance away from where a competitor would cross the finish line.

There was another woman on speaker phone telling someone to start running now and across the track a girl starting running at a brisk pace well ahead of the first runner who was coming round the bend.

What the heck was going on?

Well, I’ll tell you, it was the most amazing thing!

Azalea Cartwright, 14, a Shasti Kelly Road Secondary School student, was training for her 1200m race – she was preparing for her competition at the BC Summer Games held in Prince George this week.

Azalea was running so fast it looked like she was training for the 400m sprint.

Azalea’s grandmother Colette Erickson was the woman seated at the home stretch to cheer on her granddaughter, while mom Carmella Cartwright was the woman on speaker phone with her youngest daughter Alyssia, 11, who was across the track from her and would run ahead of Azalea for as long as she could to help Azalea keep up her pace.

It was three generations of women training Azalea for the biggest race of her life.

“We have to help her train like that because no one is fast enough to keep up with her the whole distance,” Mom Carmella smiled.

Alyssia is proud to help her big sister, she said.

“I felt pretty good helping Azalea – she has a pretty good technique on how she tries to catch up to me,” Alyssia, 11, said.

Azalea is a natural athlete who participates in gymnastics and dance, high school basketball and volleyball, runs cross country and then her farm-girl side is showcased with her 4-H animal projects – beef, steer and goat this year, so she’s a busy girl.

The whole family is busy in fact but when Azalea qualified for the BC Summer Games competition right in her home town, time was carved out to help get her ready during the last weeks leading up to the big day.

“Family is very important to Azalea,” Grandmother Colette said. “And we’re always there supporting each other.”

For Azalea she so appreciates that support, she said.

“I feel very loved and secure,” Azalea smiled.

“Azalea is a very busy girl and she’s just all muscle and determination,” Mom Carmella said. “She started running cross country in Grade 2 and that’s when we realized she could run really far really fast.”

Azalea started racing with the Prince George Track & Field Club in 2018 and competed at the Jack Brown Memorial in Kelowna in the 1,000m race and she placed second.

“And that was her first big race,” Carmella said. “So this race is her first competition since she competed when she was 10 years old.”

Covid interrupted a lot of things including track meets.

“I am honored to represent Zone 8 at this meet,” Azalea said. “And I’m going to push my hardest and have fun.”

“All the competitors here are winners because they all made it here,” Carmella said.

There were 26 competitors in the girls 1200m race and Azalea was the only one from Prince George competing in this race.

The girls were split into two heats but each were considered finals so placing was done by each competitor’s time.

Azalea placed second in the first heat after giving a valiant effort to overtake her greatest competitor.

The second heat was faster and so in the end Azalea placed 9th overall out of 26 with a time of 4:00.97.

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