SAULT STE. MARIE - Rudyard cross country runner Alisha Thompson will have some different dirt under her feet in the days to come.
She was invited by International Sports Specialists Incorporated to join Team Michigan and take part in the Down Under International Games in Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Coast and will fly out on July 14 after accepting.
“Who wouldn't want to go?” Thompson said. “It's a great opportunity to see Australia and Hawaii and meet new people and enjoy a very competitive experience.”
Thompson will make her stop in Hawaii prior to heading Down Under and will spend the time soaking up some sun, enjoying the scenery, and oh yeah, training.
“I'm a really competitive person,” she said. “Right now I'm really focused on the competitive aspect of the trip. I mean, I really want to see Hawaii and Australia, but I want to win too.”
Two races will be run once the athletes gather on the Gold Coast. The first will between racers from different countries, while the second will be run against teams from different states.
While there were many invitations handed out, Thompson's credentials are unquestionable. She was a varsity runner for all four years with the Bulldogs and was named Most Valuable Player for cross country during her senior year. She was All-Straits Area Conference three of her four years on the team, and made the All-State team twice. Thompson also made the All-State Academic squad for three years.
After the trip, Thompson will start preparing for college at Baker College in Flint, where she intends to enter a prosthetics and orthodics program. She would eventually like to design products.
“I'd like to design my own orthodics,” she said. “To be able to figure out exactly what's needed and to create the solution for someone is what I really want to do.”
These are the kinds of things that Thompson thinks about when she runs, never focusing very long on any one thing.
“My mind wanders,” she said. “Sometimes, on the long runs, I'll tell myself there's just two miles left, or just one more mile. That makes it seem not so long sometimes. Otherwise, I'm thinking about what I'm going to do later that day, or stuff that I've already done before I started running.”
She doesn't spend much time watching TV, but is a big fan of the Discovery Channel on those rare occasions.
“I love The Deadliest Catch,” she said. “And I like the survival shows that they have on there too. I just have my shows that I like, and I don't watch TV unless they're on.”
As for how it feels to be heading on maybe the biggest of her young life, Thompson is still a little disbelieving of the whole thing.
“It just seems a little surreal at this point,” she said. “I've never been to another country other than Canada before. I guess it will seem a little more real when I'm on the plane.”