A late-comer to the world of long-distance running, McGill Redmen cross-country star François Jarry fell in love with the thrill of racing in grade 11.
“My high school teacher made us run around the school, and very few people took it seriously, but I always enjoyed it,” Jarry said. “At the end of the year, I won a school race that made me passionate about it.”
A Physical Education and Health Education student, Jarry was named a conference all-star and has placed in the top 10 in seven out of his eight races in 2016. He has performed well in Montreal this season, winning the 2016 McGill Open and placing third in both the RSEQ cross-country championship and 3,000-metre race. While most athletes struggle to find success in sports they start at such a late age, running has been always been a part of Jarry’s life, even if he didn’t start training until he was older.
“My father ran marathons,” Jarry said. “He did not [run] competitively, but did about nine of them for his own experience. So the idea of running was always there.”
Jarry competes in both track and cross-country for McGill, but prefers the more comfortable environment of a track compared to the unpredictable terrain of a cross-country race.
“I definitely have a preference for track,” Jarry said. “I think I’ve just been mentally weaker when [cross-country] racing, I find that races get less exciting the more you run.”
Jarry’s preference for an even surface to run on matches his general desire for structure and predictability. He believes in a running style that is both technically efficient and well-planned: Before the race even begins, Jarry aims to outsmart and out-plan his opponents. He has modeled his patient running style after famed British-Somali distance runner Mo Farah.
“I think [Farah] getting criticized for sitting back in races is really unfair,” Jarry said. “I have a very similar mentality, […] I just love to just get the best approach I can. I start at the speed I can and build from there [….] People always think making the best time is the only thing that matters, but being able to be tactically efficient is very impressive.”
Jarry is also a star off the track. David Johnston, the governor general of Canada, honoured him this year as one of the top eight Academic All-Canadians. For Jarry, striking a balance between academics and athletics has always come naturally.
“Getting good grades, I find, a big part of it is having nice teachers who grade fairly,” Jarry said. “It’s also about relaxing, listening in class, not taking notes frantically, not signing up for too much other stuff.”
Jarry is a laid-back, cerebral person who believes that actions speak louder than words. He is considering doing a master’s and is currently completing a practicum with a professor at McGill. It is a possibility that the Quebec-native still has a few more years on McGill campus.
In the spirit of Mo Farah’s mantra—“Don’t dream of winning. Train for it”—Jarry is well on his way to future success.
Favourite song/artist to listen to before a race: Often in the bus we listen to songs we would listen to during like elementary school prom, like “Stronger” by Kanye, or “Run Caleb Ndiku,” a song by a [Machakos Kyalo].
Favourite pre-race meal: The night before: Often pasta and a bit of beans and veggies.
Days off: Just cereal and soy milk.
Favourite place to study at McGill: The computer lab [at] the stadium.