Marc-Antoine Rouleau goes the distance

Rouleau finished sixth in the 1,500-metre national final last season.

Transferring from one school to another can be a difficult process for any student. Now add the fact that you are transferring not only from a different school, but to a different collegiate league, and you get a sense of what Marc-Antoine Rouleau had to go through. However, he has become one of the top performers on his team, and expectations are high heading into his final year.

“I heard about the amazing team they had here, and I had a good option to really explore my potential and see where I could go with running,” said Rouleau on his decision to come to Simon Fraser University from the University of Sherbrooke. “So I need[ed] to try the West Coast and really avoid the winter in Quebec. That was a big part.”

Besides the comparatively moderate winters, Rouleau was also drawn to the fact that SFU plays in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

“In the NCAA, you get to go to California every weekend, and you get those amazing opportunities. [. . .] The other aspect of the NCAA is you have a lot of races and a lot of opportunities to race competitively compared to the CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport], where you’re going to train for two months on your own and really do one big race at the end of the season to see how fit you really are. But in the NCAA, you race to get fitter.”

He has certainly adjusted to life in the NCAA. Last year in track and field, he made it to the national championship in the 1,500-metre and finished sixth. The year before, he made it to the nationals as well, finishing 17th.

“It was amazing,” he said on making the national championships two years in a row. “I was really disappointed [the first year] because I was just not used to a type of race where you start slow and start to get going with one lap to go.

“This year, I think me and Brit [Townsend, head coach], we just managed everything differently, and it went really well and worked out in the final. We practiced our speed and our kick to really react with those top guys at the end and be up there until the finish line.”

The 1,500-metre is a different race than most. Unlike, for example, the 100-metre, which is all about pure speed, the 1,500 requires strategy and being able to pace yourself through three and a quarter laps.

“The first lap you have to stay focused, and really go through and realize that you’re going to have to be efficient the whole way and be fluid,” Rouleau explained. “And then the second lap you get through the motion of getting fast, and it’s pretty easy because you’re not even midway. And then the third lap, that’s when it gets harder because that’s where you can really start to lose focus and you start to go slower and you won’t be in a good position to react with the top guys. And the last lap is the last lap — you have to go no matter what.”

Like the vast majority of runners, Rouleau also competes on the cross country team, even though he sees himself as more of a “track and field guy.” Nevertheless, he relishes the team-based aspect of cross country.

“It’s totally different, because in cross country the top five will mark points,” he said. “So you don’t really care who’s going to be in the top five, you just want anyone on that day to step up and get out there and do the
best they can.”

A senior, Rouleau is entering his final year of competition. After his collegiate career, he has aspirations of turning pro, depending on how the upcoming season goes. However, Rouleau has some advice for incoming student athletes on how to make the most of their time at SFU.

“I would tell them to enjoy the journey,” he said. “Especially in the first few years, because that’s where you make some amazing new friends that you can have all your collegiate career.

“When you get to your fourth or fifth year, that’s when you can decide if you really want to go forward with your running, or any sport you do.”

Fun Fact: Halloween costume this year?

“Probably a pirate. I really love the theme.”