Former Dalhousie Tigers track star Leanna MacLean will accomplish a few firsts on Thursday night.

For starters, she’ll run the mile for the first time in her competitive career at the Festival of Excellence at the University of Toronto. In that race, top Olympic competitors from Kenya and the U.S. will provide a stiff challenge for the New Glasgow native.

She’ll also get the chance to meet Olympic 100-metre champion Usain Bolt, who is headlining the event and is the closest thing track and field has to a rock star persona.


And to top it off, MacLean will make her live national television debut when her race airs on TSN at 8:30 p.m.

“It will be really exciting, different,” said the 26-year-old.

“I might be a little out of my league against some of the other women at that distance, so I’ll have some fun with it. I might run an amazing race by my standards and finish last.”

MacLean, who normally runs the 800 metres, has a little bit of experience at the 1,500-metre distance, but she hasn’t put much time into training for the mile and said she’ll be “winging it a little” at the Festival.

After this race, MacLean will also compete in two 800-metre events in Indianapolis, then prepare for the Canadian senior track championships at the end of the month.

She finished third in the country in the 800-metres last year, and will aim even higher in 2009.

“This year, I’ll be shooting for first place,” she said. “That will be my goal from now on when I’m there.”