NORTH SAANICH — Wet, windy conditions prevailed Sunday at the first race in the Vancouver Island Race Series – the Prairie Inn Harriers Pioneer 8K.
The 39th running of the event had over 500 registrations and was run on a new rural out-and-back course in North Saanich. For the second year in a row Lucas Bruchet was the overall winner with Rachel Cliff winning the women’s race.
Bruchet – who runs with the Vancouver Thunderbirds – had a clean lead from the get go as he battled the rain and an annoying head wind. His time of 24:06 was 42 seconds slower than 2017.
“The weather played a role in me being slower and it isn’t as fast a course as the old one,” he said. “But I put in a good hard effort today.”
The 2016 Olympian now heads to Florida for a warm weather training camp. Second in the men’s field was Matt Noseworthy (25:29) and third was Shelby Drope from Bastion Run Club in 26:08.
Top male master was Craig Odermatt from the Harriers finishing in 26:58. Odermatt competed for Team BC in the Canadian Cross-Country Championships last fall and then took a break.
“Since then my coach hasn’t had me doing a lot of faster training, so this was a challenge today, but I was proud of my strength and mental toughness,” he said. “I worked the middle of the race well and I am proud to be top master and place high overall.”
Sixteen seconds separated the first two women in the ladies field. Cliff repeated her 2017 victory winning in 26:23, with 2015 and 2016 winner, and Canadian record holder, Natasha Wodak close behind. Third was Erica Rigby from the Vancouver Thunderbirds finishing in 27:15.
Cliff – a BC Endurance Project athlete – also found the conditions challenging.
“My coach had a plan and we executed it well,” she said. “I latched on to a few people and it worked. And the long workouts we did leading up to the race really paid off.”
A 10K specialist, Cliff will hear this week if she has made the Canadian Commonwealth Games team going to the Gold Coast in April.
Top female master was Victoria’s Lucy Smith winning in 29:05. She also set a Pioneer 8K Masters record.
“There are some races that are dear to my heart and this is one of them. Like the other M50 records I have gone after since turning 50, I simply knew the record was there and beatable so I went for it,” she said. “It was awesome to see so many youth out there, including my daughter Maia, and to see them choosing to spend their Sunday morning being active and pursuing goals.”
In addition to Smith’s record there were two other event records: in W20-24 Meg Lewis-Schneider (27:35), W70-74 Roslyn Smith (37:59).
The Island Series announced the first donation of $1,020 presented to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. Runners can still make donations when they register for the remainder of the races.
Full results can be viewed at racedaytiming.ca.
The next race is Cobble Hill 10K on Jan. 21, followed by Cedar 12K on Feb. 4, Hatley Castle 8K on Feb. 18, Port Alberni Paper Chase 15K on March 4, Comox Valley RV Half Marathon on March 18, TriStars 10K on March 25 and the Synergy Health Management Bazan Bay 5K and Series Awards on April 8.
To register for any of the races in the Island Series go to www.islandseries.org.