Nick Walker paces his way along a trail during Sunday's Hatley Castle 8K. Walker used a late push to win the overall title for the event

Nick Walker paces his way along a trail during Sunday's Hatley Castle 8K. Walker used a late push to win the overall title for the event

Hatley 8K features duel to the finish

Winner quite familiar with up-and-down Royal Roads course

A strong finish carried Nick Walker to top spot in the Hatley Castle 8K.

Walker, a Frontrunners Athletic Club runner who also served as co-race director, outpaced Dusty Spiller over the final two kilometres and won Sunday’s Vancouver Island Race Series event by 13 seconds with a final clocking of 27 minutes, 45 seconds.

“We were side by side until about 4.5K, when he put a bit of a gap between us,” Walker said of his duel with Spiller. “I ended up catching up around 6K and focused on staying strong with a quick turnover for the last 2K. I really wanted to have a stronger last half, which I was able to do … net downhill for the last half helps.”

Jonathan Behnke wound up third in 28:23, while the top men’s master (age 40 or older on race day) was Hugh Trenchard, finishing in 29:39.

Gina Slaby from Seabeck, Wash. was the top woman finisher in a time of 29:48. She came in 29 seconds ahead of pre-race favourite and defending women’s champion Jen Millar (30:17), while Brittany Therrien was third in 31:13. The fastest women’s master was Yanna Debelic, in 35:03.

For her part, Millar continues to be a fan of this race.

“Hatley is a favourite of mine because it is technical and I enjoy attacking the hills,” she said. “I also like the out-and-back parts of the course, as you can see everyone.”

Under virtually perfect race conditions, this third event on the Race Series saw 369 runners finish. Other highlights included two new age group records: Marie Kennell clocked 51:41 in the women’s 75 to 79 category, while John Woodall broke the legendary Maurice Tarrant’s record in the men’s 85 to 89 division by five minutes, finishing in 53:31.

Coming up next are the Bazan Bay 5K on March 5 and the rescheduled Sooke River 10K on March 12. For full race results go to racedaytiming.ca/vira/2017. To register for races on the series, visit islandseries.org.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com