Marathon runners deserve recognition

Nanaimo athletes reach finish line at Royal Victoria Marathon.

This past weekend in Victoria, a large number of local runners went to great lengths to work up an appetite for Thanksgiving dinner. To the length of 42.195 kilometres to be exact, or 26.2 miles if you prefer.

The occasion was the 32nd running of the Royal Victoria Marathon, now known as the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. It was held last Sunday together with a half-marathon, an 8km road race and a 1.2km race for the kids. In total, nearly 10,000 runners completed one of the events. Of those, 1,568 participants finished the full marathon route that took them through the downtown and along the waterfront.

Weather conditions were ideal for the race and that no doubt contributed to the fact that new course records in both the men’s and women’s divisions were set.

The men’s record in Victoria had been set back in 2006 by Nanaimo’s own Steve Osaduik. It was bettered by more than two minutes this year, however, as Kenyan athlete Thomas Omwenga raced to the finish line in just two hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds. Omwenga’s performance in Victoria was so dominant that runner-up Philip Samoei of Kenya, the defending champion, was more than 10 minutes behind him in 2:25:39.

Lucy Njeri from Kenya set a new time record in the women’s division, finishing in 2:37:56. That smashed the previous record of 2:42:32, which had stood since 1989.

Of course not everyone is a natural runner like Omwenga and Njeri. But for anyone, no matter what their time or pace, simply managing to finish a marathon is a triumph. And as much as in completing the route on race day, the victory for the average runner is in persevering with the weeks and months of training necessary to even consider entering. So congratulations go to all the nearly 40 runners from the Nanaimo area who raced, jogged, or simply endured to the finish line last Sunday.

The swiftest of the locals and the only one to finish in less than three hours, was Bill Corsan. His sparkling time of 2:55:44 gave him 36th place in the overall field and 10th in the M35-39 age division. Next Nanaimo runner to cross the line was Sean Reilly, whose time of 3:03:18 earned him 66th overall. Finishing 113th in the large field was Monti Burtini, thanks to his time of 3:11:53.

A fine finishing time of 3:13:44 made Kim Gagliano the quickest female runner from Nanaimo to complete the course. Gagliano took first place in the F50-54 division and was 122nd overall. Finishing at virtually the same time in 123rd spot was Robert Shurniak.

Other locals to finish in the top 200 overall included Darren Seaman, who was 148th in a time of 3:17:31 and Darren Frey, 156th in 3:19:04. In 173rd spot came Nanaimo’s Charles Ramos with a finish in 3:22:03. Russell Henry placed eighth overall in the M50-54 age group, with his time of 3:22:59 and finishing 195th in the field with a posted time of 3:23:53 was Kent Williamson.

Lantzville’s Scotty Sanderson placed ninth in the M20-24 division and 257th overall, with his finish in 3:29:03. In 306th overall was Nanaimo’s Kevin Stedmon with a time of 3:34:16. Not far behind were Lantzville runners Kathy Sihota, 325th in 3:35:43 and Bryan Rehill who was 387th overall with a time of 3:40:54.

Completing the full marathon distance is less than four hours were several other Nanaimo runners. Joanne Brear posted a time of 3:45:09, Kirsten Funke-Robinson finished in 3:45:38 and runners Hugh Young in 3:46:08 and Tanya Goldsbury in 3:46:04. Kara Williamson crossed the line in 3:47:16, then Carene Booth in 3:49:33 and Graydon Shevchenko in 3:49:35.

Natasha Shurniak finished in 3:51:07, Neil Galloway in 3:53:02 and Tami Beales in 3:53:23. John Durkin took 10th in the M60-64 division with his finish of 3:54:43 and Marci Ekland had a time of 3:54:48.

Other Nanaimo runners who deserve full credit for staying the marathon course included Ramsay Haug, Debbie Beck, Lars Mjaaland, Margaret McLeay, Helen Gibbons, Ross McKeever, John Browne, Rose Taylor, Colin Entner, Cory Vanderhorst, Corey Friesen and Catrin Brodie.

Next week we’ll credit local runners for their efforts in the half marathon and 8km races.

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

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.