Downtown Victoria was crowded with nearly 8,500 runners and joggers pounding the pavement this past weekend and Nanaimo was well-represented in the mix.
The occasion was the 37th annual Victoria Marathon, an event held every Thanksgiving weekend in the capital city. The popular running festival also included half marathon and 8km races held on scenic courses along with waterfront.
As seems to happen every year, rain and wind gave way to clear skies and nearly ideal conditions for the races on Sunday morning. Winner of the full 42.2-kilometre marathon event for the third consecutive year was Daniel Kipkoech. The Kenyan-born Kipkoech who now lives in Lethbridge tore out of the starting gate and never looked back as he posted a time of two hours, 20 minutes and 33 seconds ñ nearly 9 minutes faster than his nearest competitor. Capturing the women’s title was Sabrina Wilkie from Vancouver in 2:45:54.
An international field of over 1000 runners completed the marathon distance, with 22 participants from Nanaimo among them. Leading the way for the locals was Jonathan Behnke, whose fine time of 2:59:40 earned him 34th overall and eighth in the M25-29 division. Robert Shurniak posted a finish of 3:10:22 for 60th overall. Next was Yanna Debelic, the quickest Nanaimo female runner, whose time of 3:27:34 gave her 144th place and fourth in the F45-49 age division. Brian Curley placed 177th in 3:33:26, Daniel Frick was 193rd in 3:35:26 and Jeff O’Donnell was 236th in 3:40:14. Ryan Scrase had a time of 3:42:01 for 256th overall and Adam Scheck was 269th in 3:43:51. Other local runners who completed the marathon distance in less than four hours were Glen Scott Crockett, who was 10th in the M55-59 division and 284th overall in 3:45:11 and Jorgen Jensen whose time of 3:54:32 put him in 380th spot and fifth in the M65-69 category.
More than 2,800 participants competed in the 21.1km half marathon race. Fastest of the Nanaimo runners to the finish line was Melissa Ross, whose time of 1:22:16 gave her 24th overall and second in the F30-34 class. Jon Hillier was 43rd in total, eighth in the M25-29 division, with a time of 1:25:30. Then came Kristine Kelly, fourth in the F40-44 group and 139th overall in 1:35:47, with Jessica McKierahan eighth in the F35-39 class and 139th in total in 1:36:10. Darren Frey posted a time of 1:36:53 and Brad Fraser a time of 1:37:06. Bob Saunders was seventh in the M55-59 division in 1:39:48, Graydon Heyes finished in 1:41:17 and Garrett Watson’s time of 1:43:12 earned him seventh in the M01-19 division. Other top runners included Kevin Stedmon with a time of 1:43:30 and Shawn Bryant with a 1:45:08 finish. Special mention should also go to Zlatko Zvekic who was seventh in the M65-69 division in 1:48:10 and Henry Wiebe who was first in the M75-59 age group with a time of 1:53:28.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,300 other people completed the 8km distance, including over 100 Nanaimo entrants. Fastest of those was Hope Stewart with a time of 33:07, which put her in 66th place overall and second in the F16-19 division. Logan Watchorn was 79th in 33:56 and Mitch Couch 85th in 34:09. Jane Campbell claimed first in the F50-54 group and 95th overall with her time of 34:44. Next local to finish was Luke Bouma in 35:00. Mandy Zapshala was fourth in the F25-29 division with a time of 35:22, while Bruce Busby took third in the M60-64 category thanks to his finish in 35:35.
Other top 8K runners included Stephen Johnston who reached the finish line in 36:03. Hannah Bassett was third among F20-24 runners with a time of 36:09. Ethan Watchorn was fifth in the M13-15 division at 36:12, Paris Gaudet was second in the F45-49 group with a time of 36:30 and Kate Cameron was sixth in the F13-15 group with a finish in 37:13.
Congratulations to the above runners and to the many other local athletes who took part in one of the races.
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.