Nanaimo's runners fast to finish line

Once again this year, the Frontrunners Island Race Series has provided local runners an opportunity to maintain their fitness during the winter months.

Co-ordinated by the Vancouver Island Runners’ Association and hosted by community running clubs, the Island Series consists of a set of eight road races of varying distances held at different spots on the island between January and April. Individuals are welcome to enter any or all of the races, but most participants are members of established running groups. In Nanaimo, those include Runners of Compassion, Westwood Running Club and the Bastion Running Club.

Four races have been run to this point, starting with the Prairie Inn Harriers’ Pioneer 8K, held in Saanich early in the year. A field of 629 runners completed the course and top Nanaimo runners were led by Joel Deschiffart, whose time of 27 minutes, 17 seconds earned him 16th overall and first in the M16-19 age category.

Then came Byron Trajan, third in the M30-34 division and 23rd in the field thanks to a time of 27:45. Travis Pirozzini was 28th overall, sixth among M20-24, in 28:24 and Trevor Ruck’s time of 29:42 gave him eighth in the same age group and 47th place in total.

Erin Burrett was the quickest local female participant to finish, placing 50th overall and second in the F30-34 division with her time of 29:49. A time of 31:16 for Arjan Gelling gave him 72nd place and first in the M65-69 category.

The second race in this year’s Island Series was the Cedar 12K, hosted in February by the Bastion Running Club. John Durkin was race director and he saw 449 participants complete the course. A famous name was first to the finish line, as Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield of Victoria posted a time of 37:36.

Of the many Bastion or Westwood Club runners entered, Stephen Struthers was quickest with a finish in 41:06, fourth in the M25-29 age group and ninth overall. Travis Pirozzini placed 14th, third among M20-24 in 42:59. Byron Trajan was 19th in the field and fifth in the M30-34 division at 44:48. Close behind him was David Depasquale, 20th overall and second in the M45-49 category with a time of 44:54. Shawn Boyd’s time of 47:28 gave him 31st spot and third in the M40-44 group.

Finishing 32nd and 33rd were a pair of Bastion members who were each first in their respective age divisions. Holden Gill’s time of 47:29 earned him top spot in the M16-19 group, while Arjan Gelling at 47:43 was first among M65-69. Next came Sean Reilly, 34th overall and seventh in the M30-34 division in 47:45. Jason Gress was fourth in the M40-44 group and 36th in total with a time of 47:59, while Jason Wright finished 41st and ninth among M30-34 in 48:21.

Third race in the Island Series was the Hatley Castle 8K at Royal Roads, featuring 405 finishers but a smaller contingent from Nanaimo. Fastest of the locals was Pirozzini. His finish in 28:42 gave him seventh overall and second in the M20-24 age group. In 11th place at 29:35, third in M30-34, was Trajan, while Reilly finished in 31:33 for seventh in that same age division and 22nd overall. In 32:04 for 28th position, first among M65-69, came Gelling. Cheryl Davies had a time of 33:40, good for third in the F35-39 division and 45th place. First in the F20-24 division and 89th overall, was Kaylee Beales with a time of 35:52.

Two weekends ago, the Cobble Hill 10K marked the fourth race in the series. Of the 382 finishers, Nanaimo’s Joel DeSchiffart was fifth overall and first in the M16-19 division with a time of 33:16. Close on his heels was Stephen Struthers, whose finish in 33:33 gave him sixth place and second in the M25-29 category. Tenth overall and second in the M30-34 group was Trajan in 35:18 and Pirozzini finished in 12th spot and third among M20-24 in 36:34.

Claiming 31st in the field was Reilly, finishing in 38:17 for sixth in the M30-34 division. In 32nd place, second in M16-19, was Gill with a time of 38:22. Right behind in 38:25 was Gelling, second in M65-69 and 33rd overall. Daniel Struthers earned 36th place and fifth among M20-24, in 38:49. Alex Counsell finished 38th, fifth in M25-29, with his time of 38:58. Also in the top 100 finishers was Davies, 68th overall and third in the F35-39 class.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.

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