Nanaimo’s runners active in wintry weather

Every year, the cold and wet months of January and February provide a special challenge for local runners who wish to maintain their fitness levels.

Some find an incentive to stay in training provided annually by the competitive races known as the Frontrunners Island Race Series. This event is a group of eight road races held in various locations on the Island between January and April each year. Any runner is welcome to enter the competitions, but most entrants are more serious runners affiliated with clubs such as Nanaimo’s Bastion Running Club or the Westwood Running Club.

The first race in this year’s Island Series was the Prairie Inn Pioneer 8K held in Saanichton in mid-January. At total of 648 runners took part, including a sizable contingent of Bastion and Westwood members. Of those, first to the finish line was Trevor Ruck, whose time of 27:12 gave him 12th overall and first in the M20-24 division.

At the end of January came the second race in the series, the Cobble Hill 10K, involving 560 finishers. Ruck was again the first local to the finish line, placing fifth overall and first in his age group thanks to a time of 34:29.

The third race in the Island Series was the Cedar 12K, hosted by the Bastion Club on Feb. 6, with John Durkin and his committee doing a great job of organizing. Of the 478 finishers, Ruck was the fastest from Nanaimo, crossing the line in 42:22 for eighth place overall and first in his division. First in the M30-34 age group was Jeremy Clegg, placing ninth in the field in 42:31. Other top Nanaimo runners were Stefan Jakobsen, 11th overall and third in the M35-39 group at 42:53, Byron Trajan who was 14th and second in the M30-34 group at 43:23 and John Loewen whose time of 44:13 earned him 21st spot and second in the M40-44 division. David Depasquale was 26th in 45:12, Philip Birrer. 31st in 45:32 and Travis Pirozzini, 41st in 47:04 and third in his age group.

Other top finishers included Scott Jones, 51st in 47:49, Sean Reilly, 52nd in 48:00, Simon Weber, 54th in 48:03 and Norm Thibault, 59th in 48:53 and Nathanael Wood, 62nd in 49:20. In 66th overall came Norm Olsen in 49:48 and 76th was Kyle Bohn in 50:36. Third in the F35-39 division and 93rd overall was Cheryl Davies in 52:13. Matthew Allardyce placed 97th in 52:36 and in 100th spot and first in the F20-24 age group was Monica Rush in a time of 52:42.

Two Sundays ago, the fourth race in this year’s Island Series was held on the grounds of Royal roads in Colwood. The Hatley Castle 8K attracted 465 competitors, including about 20 Nanaimo runners. This time the fastest local was Joel DeSchiffart, who was second in the M16-19 division and sixth overall with a time of 28:59. Trajan was seventh in total and first in the M30-34 group at 29:06, with Patrick Paquette eighth overall and first in the M20-24 class at 29:17 and Shelby Drope 10th overall with a finish of 29:20.

In the top 50 of the field were Birrer, 19th in 30:33, Pirozzini, 21st overall and third in the M20-24 division in 30:46, Reilly, 37th in 32:16, Wood, 48th in 33:24 and Bohn, 49th in 33:24. Charlene Hay was top local female in 47:21 and Bill Hollingshead deserves special mention for his fine time of 39:12, which gave him first place in the M70-74 division.

The final four races of the Island Series will take place during this month and next, starting with the Bazan Bay 5K tomorrow (March 6) in Sidney.

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

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.