Christine Bayliss

2009 Midget Girls JO XC National Champion!

Christine Bayliss

by Bob Burns

Link to Top PA Midgets Photos and Finish Time

California girls have been celebrated for a number of things, but being able to run through ankle-deep snow isn’t generally one of them.

The two feet of snow that fell on the day of the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Reno didn’t slow down Christine Bayliss, a 12-year-old East Bay resident. Bayliss added a national cross country title to her victory at last spring’s JO national track championships by striding to a 12-second victory in the midget girls race on Dec. 12 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.

“It was quite an adventure. I grew up in the Midwest and New England, but I had never raced in the snow,” said Christine’s father, David Bayliss. “It figures that the California girls would run in it.”

Bayliss completed the frigid 3,000-meter course in 10 minutes, 55 seconds – almost 10 seconds faster than she ran on the same course in winning the Pacific Regional title in dry conditions.

A major storm blanketed Reno the day of the national championships, delaying the start of the event by an hour while volunteers tried to pack down the snow. Along with the frigid cold, Reno’s 4,500-foot altitude figured to challenge the sea-level entrants.

“We were aware that the altitude would have a small effect on the race, so we reminded Christine not to go out too fast,” David Bayliss said. “A course is a course. It’s not a race against the course, it’s a race against other people.”

That’s the type of race Christine has grown accustomed to winning. She stayed with the leaders before separate herself from all challengers in the final kilometer.

“I think it was a really good experience with the snow,” said Christine, a seventh-grader at Charlotte Wood Middle School in Danville who competes for the Roseville Express in Junior Olympic competition. “I was a little bit nervous because I knew I’d have some competition, but I felt pretty good. It wasn’t that hard.”

Bayliss moved up four spots from her fifth-place finish in the Midget division at the 2008 National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Mechanicsville, Va.

“It felt really good to win my first national cross country title,” Bayliss said. “It felt good to accomplish my goal.”

She won the midget 3,000 meters at the 2009 Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, N.C., clocking 10:23.56 to set a Pacific Association age-group record. Bayliss also holds the Pacific Association record for midget girls in the 1,500 meters at 4:50.24.

David Bayliss has gone to great lengths to limit his daughter’s work load. She practiced two or three days a week this fall while also playing competitive soccer. After completing her CYO season, she joined her Roseville teammates at a mid-November meet in Rocklin, finishing second to Clare Carroll in a combined midget-youth race.

Carroll, 13, placed third in the youth race at the JO Nationals in Reno despite losing a shoe early in the race.

While Bayliss will move up to the youth division (13-14) for the 2010 National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, she won’t rush into track season.

“This is the time for marshmallows and hot chocolate,” said David Bayliss, a former professional biathlete. “This is when we take a big break. We don’t start thinking about track until February or March.”

David, a business development manager for a construction company, is Christine’s primary coach. Christine’s mother, Jennifer, was an All-American distance runner at Montana State in the mid-1990s. They monitor their daughter’s training along with several other coaches, including Jennifer Allred-Powless, the American River College women’s coach who instructs the Roseville Express distance runners.

“It’s a great group to be a part of,” David Bayliss said. “We constantly share ideas.”

With Roseville teammate Chloe Pigg finishing fifth in the midget girls division in Reno and with Carroll placing a gutsy third in the youth race, Bayliss and the California girls showed the rest of the country that they’re anything but fair-weather runners.