Architecture student is “redefining what it means to be fast”

March 30, 2022

Conventional wisdom says it is not possible to pursue athletics while doing architecture. 


Nobody told Alexandra Telford. 


Telford, a Master of Architecture student at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, is a record-breaking sprinter and hurdler on the university circuit. According to Carleton University’s Ravens News, Telford is “redefining what it means to be fast.”  


“I’ve always loved track since I was a young girl,” says Telford, 26. “I love the feeling of running fast and pushing my body to the limit in training. It’s not something I’m willing to give up. It’s incredibly satisfying to see the hard work translate to personal bests on race day.” 


Telford has competed almost every weekend over the past semester, winning gold medals and breaking school records in university track and field events in Ontario and Quebec. 


“It mostly comes down to priorities and being strict with myself,” she explains. “All of my deadlines, classes, and training sessions go into my calendar so I can allocate the right amount of time to finish assignments and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. 

Photo Credit: Brian Rouble

“Having less time on my hands also helps maintain a certain level of pressure in between deadlines,” adds Telford, who is also a teaching assistant. 


“Being under pressure always helps me focus better and get the work done, avoiding procrastination as best I can. For the most part, my social life involves seeing my teammates at training sessions. They’re all amazing people.” 


Most recently, she broke two records at the RSEQ Championships, a provincial meet on March 19-20 in Sherbrooke, QC. 


In the 300m, she crushed the competition by over 1.1 seconds, winning the gold in a school-record time of 38.74s.  


In the 60m Hurdles, she also took gold for an incredible time of 8.97s for the gold. 


“I think studying something as detail-oriented as architecture has helped me break down certain elements of the sport,” she says. “I can better visualize and discern the individual components of workouts and start to see cause and effect relationships.”  

Photo Credit: Sean Burges
Photo Credit: Sean Burges

Both performances qualified her for the university U SPORTs national championships. However, she has decided to only compete in the 300m, for which she is currently ranked in the top three in U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sports in Canada. 


Telford trains six days a week. Four sessions are at the indoor track in Blackburn Hamlet or the high-speed treadmill at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility in Ottawa. She also does three weight sessions a week, a recovery swim, and an “easy” run day.  


“My fastest speed on the treadmill this season was 18.5 miles per hour,” she recalls. “Due to COVID-19, we weren’t always able to get on a local track, and some Saturdays involved road trips to Kingston or Montreal to get speed training in.”  


Born in Melbourne, Australia, Telford moved to Ottawa in 2000 and attended Brookfield High School. 


She completed her Bachelor of Architectural Studies at Carleton in 2018 and is currently in her final year of the master’s program. She will be defending her thesis in April and graduating at the end of the semester. 


While she is excited to dive into the profession of architecture, she plans to wait until she can devote all her energy to it. 


“I hope to give track my full attention after graduation while I am still young and see how far I can get within the sport,” she says.” I will hold off looking for work in the field until I achieve my athletic goals.”  


Read the Ravens News story here