Capturing a Dalhousie University Tigers track record makes for an impressive season on its own. Adding some first-place finishes in other track meets makes the year all the more impressive. Plus, we haven’t even gotten to any Atlantic University Sport (AUS) or U Sports championships yet.
This has been second-year sprinter Dan Lord’s season. With changes in the men’s track roster over the COVID-19 pandemic, he has emerged as one of the team’s bright young stars in 2021-2022.
The meet in December 2021, where he beat teammates in a record 22.49 seconds in the 200-metre dash, seems to only be the beginning. For good measure, his name now hangs from the Dalplex track and field record board.
“It was a big surprise. I wasn’t expecting to break 23 seconds in the race. It was just a breakthrough race,” Lord said. He bested the previous record by 0.03 seconds, held by former Tiger and Olympian Geoff Harris. “I looked at the clock and I was like ‘Oh my God.’ I looked at the record before and I was like, ‘There’s no way anyone’s gonna run that.’”
The Windsor, N.S., native hasn’t been far behind that 200-metre milestone since, despite the AUS pause brought on by the Omicron variant’s spread. In early season competition at the University of New Brunswick, he thrived with first-place finishes in the 60 and 300-metre dashes.
Recently, in Windsor, O.N. at the Windsor Team Challenge, he finished fifth in a 300-metre race. There, he raced against runners from powerhouse Ontario University Athletics (OUA) schools such as the universities of Toronto and Windsor. The Dalhousie Gazette caught up with Lord in Ontario for the competition, who got a taste of some of the best sprinters in Canada.
“The meet atmosphere is so much better [against Ontario schools] because the teams are bigger and get more people out to races. It was humbling,” he said.
Atypical COVID-19 training regimen
Like the rest of his teammates, Lord is back racing in competitions for the first time in two years. Through most of the pandemic, however, his training was a bit unorthodox for a sprinter. He took up more cycling and swimming to take a break from regular running routines.
He’s still not sure today how the regimen panned out in the long run.
“It wasn’t the smartest thing to do,” he laughed. “It got me in really good shape but my speed was gone.”
At least the long pauses in competition over the last two seasons provided one thing: time. Leading up to 2021-2022, Lord shifted to more traditional track training to regain speed. He also credits his good health with allowing him to thrive through that training period.
“I usually get injured during the training block, but I wasn’t injured that whole time. So I was able to keep getting better,” he said.
Big shoes to fill
Lord, with his school record and meet success, has earned attention as one of Dal’s top sprinters, alongside Matthew Aftanas and Zach James on the men’s side. The Dal women are set, with U Sports contender Maya Reynolds leading the charge.
Lord and company will be racing in place of former U Sports gold medallist Matt Coolen, who led the Tigers on the track for four years. Now, that spot is up for grabs.
“If I keep getting better, I can definitely try to, at some point, compete with the legacy he left. But Matt is one of a kind,” he said.
In the meantime, he’ll turn his focus to the AUS championships at the Université de Moncton from March 18-19. Maybe after then, at the U Sports championships in Saint John, N.B., (hosted by UNB) he can try his hand at a national medal.
“Whenever I walk up to the [Dalplex] track, I can see my name on the board. It gives me motivation to train hard,” Lord said. “It made me want to train harder because it feels so good to get something like that. I want that feeling again.”