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Faces of the Valley: Hannah Woodhouse
By: Victoria McMurchy

January 2015

Many people believe that if you grow up in a small town you won't be able to have as many opportunities as you would if you lived in the city. However, Hannah Woodhouse, a young local runner is proving that this stereotype is completely false. Hannah recently competed at the Canadian Cross Country Running Championships in Vancouver. Being able to compete at a championship like this one is unimaginable for many people; yet, Hannah Woodhouse from Heathcote managed to not only compete, but win the Canadian Cross Country Running Championships.

But this win for Hannah has been a very long journey. Hannah started competing in cross country and track races when she was in public school. She always enjoyed running and when she entered high school, she was able to focus on her skills by joining the local Coyotes Running Club. Under the guidance of her coach, Kevin Hooper, Hannah was able to excel at the sport and always managed to claim top spots at many of her races over the years.

This year is Hannah's senior year of high school at Georgian Bay Secondary School in Meaford. On top of running over 85 hours a week, Hannah is also taking 3 university prep courses this semester and is an active member of Student Council, Born to Read, and the Music Department at Georgian Bay. Plus she takes part in many activities in the community such as 4-H, the Maple Line Rifle Club, Horseback Riding, Life Guarding and helping out with her family farm and 3 younger sisters. Although running tends to take her away from her schooling and her other activities, Hannah always catches up on anything that she misses and is a very active and dedicated member of the school and community.  

In order to qualify for the Canadian Cross Country Championship, Hannah had to take top spots at 3 different races. Her first race this season took place on October 9th. This Pre- OFSAA race did not affect her chances at qualifying for her other races but, it allowed her to learn the course that she would be racing on for OFSAA. Hannah was able to take 1st place at this competition and it gave her the confidence she needed to be a fierce competitor. Hannah's first qualifying race was in Hepworth on October 15th. There was a mix of terrain but this didn't stop Hannah as she placed 1st in her division. Hannah raced for a second time on October 23rd in Guelph at CWOSSA and once again placed 1st. On November 1st, Hannah was back in Waterloo for OFSAA to take on 267 girls as they tried to claim the provincial title. Hannah had an excellent race and managed to take 2nd place. This year was Hannah's best performance at OFSAA and by finishing in the top 6, she qualified to race at the National Championship.

Being able to compete at the national level meant a lot to Hannah. It has been a lifelong dream for her to be able to represent our country at an international race and if she placed in the top 6 at Nationals, this dream would come true. Hannah's school and community were very proud of what she had accomplished. There were newspaper articles written about her and the school helped fundraise money for travel costs. Before Hannah knew it, it was the end of November and she was flying to B.C. for her race.

Hannah raced on November 29th at Jerico Beach Park in Vancouver, B.C.. Hannah had to move up a race division and was competing against many girls who are in university. This 6 km race was done in three 2 km loops with varying terrain and Hannah found herself running along the Pacific Ocean with the Rocky Mountains in full view. Hannah was feeling confident in her abilities and was able to hold one of the top positions from the start. By the end of her 2nd lap Hannah was feeling great and started sprinting 600 m sooner than she had planned. Hannah had an excellent finish and was able to place 1st with a 21 second lead over 2nd place. After the race was over, Hannah was awarded her medal and was able to try on her Team Canada Uniform.

Hannah Woodhouse from Heathcote is an official member of the Canadian National Cross Country Team. In February of 2015, she will have the opportunity to compete in Barranquilla, Colombia for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championships and in March, she will compete in Guiyang, China for the World Cross Country Championship.

Hannah is an extraordinary young girl whom I have had the privilege of knowing for the majority of my life. After years of Sunday School, Girl Guides and Gymnastic classes together, I am honoured to know the real Hannah "the beast" Woodhouse. Hannah is very humble and quiet, but loves to talk about Disney. She is one of the top students in her class and hopes to go to the University of Guelph for bio-medical sciences next year. Hannah is much more than just a runner and I am so proud of all that she has accomplished.  I know that no matter how she races, she will have a smile on her face and she will represent our community and country with pride.

You will probably see Hannah running in a bright orange Meaford Coyotes uniform through the Beaver Valley as she trains for her upcoming races. We know she will make us all proud and we wish her the best for this upcoming year. You can watch Hannah's national race at and if you want to learn more about who Hannah really is, you can watch this interview and see what her thoughts were about her race.


Hannah Woodhouse Update: April 2015

Hannah Woodhouse is an extraordinary local athlete who can say that she has competed at an international level, at the young age of 17.  After winning the Junior National Cross Country Championships in December, Hannah became an official member of the Junior Canadian Cross Country Running Team.  As part of the team, Hannah had the opportunity to compete in Barranquilla, Columbia, in February for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championship. Hannah had a strong race in Columbia and placed 2nd in her race, plus she helped lead the Canadian Junior Women's team to a first place win.  A month later, Hannah headed to Guiyang, China where she competed in the International Association of Athletics Federation's Junior Cross Country Race. Hannah was competing against many women who were older and who had more experience in an international race; yet, Hannah placed 60th and made everyone in the Beaver Valley proud.

Hannah's races in Columbia and China were very different from all of her previous races. Not only was she immersed in different cultures and climates but this was one of the first times that she ran without the support of her coach, teammates or family at the race. Preparing for China was especially difficult. A week before Hannah left, she had to change her sleep schedule, adjust her calorie intake, and stay hydrated while still running daily. Once Hannah got to China, she found it challenging to run due to the elevation and smog. When racing, not only were there a lot of women competing but Hannah also found herself getting cramps which made it hard for her to have the race that she wanted.

Now that Hannah's international cross country races are over, she is gearing up for her track season. Hannah runs the 1500 metre and the 3000m. She'll be training for her speed work and working on her endurance. In addition to training for her track races, Hannah will be running various road races this summer and had been named as Meaford's Pan Am torch barrier.

In September, Hannah will be moving to Guelph as she attends the University of Guelph for Biomedical Sciences. She will be running for the university's teams. After school is done for Hannah, she hopes to work in Cancer Research and still plans on running, hopefully all the way to the Olympics.

 Hannah is an inspiration for many young athletes. She understands that hard work and determination will get you far in life. She encourages people not to compare themselves to others but rather focus on personal growth and self-improvement. Many runners don't peak until their late 20's, so get ready to hear about Hannah Woodhouse's running for many years.

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