Wet and windy conditions prevailed today at the Harriers Pioneer 8K, the opening event of the Vancouver Island Race Series. The 39th running of the event had over 500 registrations, and was run on a new out-and-back rural course in North Saanich, B.C. For the second consecutive year, Luc Bruchet and Rachel Cliff won, defending their titles in what is historically Canada’s first notable road race of the calendar year.
Bruchet, who runs with the Vancouver Thunderbirds, had a clean lead from the get-go as he battled the rain and head wind. He clocked 24:06, some 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 says. “But I put in a good hard effort today.” The 2016 Olympian now heads south to the United States for a warm weather training camp. Second in the men’s field was Matt Noseworthy (25:29) followed by Shelby Drope in 26:08.
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The first two women were separated by 16 seconds as Cliff repeated her 2017 victory winning in 26:23, with 2015 and 2016 winner, and Canadian 8K record holder, Natasha Wodak close behind. Erica Digby was third in 27:15, closely ahead of Kirsten Lee, who improved upon her time in 2017 by 2:13 clocking 27:21. Cliff, a B.C. Endurance Project athlete like Bruchet, too found the conditions challenging. “My coach [Richard Lee] had a plan and we executed it well,” she says. “I latched on to a few people and it worked.”
A 10K specialist, Cliff will hear on Tuesday if she has made the Canadian Commonwealth Games team going to the Gold Coast, Australia in April.
— BC Athletics (@BC_Athletics) January 7, 2018
The top masters runners were Craig Odermatt (26:58) and Lucy Smith, in a new Pioneer 8K masters course record (29:05).
In addition to Smith’s record there were two other marks set including Meg Lewis-Schneider in the W20-24 category (27:35) and Roslyn Smith (37:59) in the W70-74 division.
The next Vancouver Island Race Series event is the Cobble Hill 10K on Jan. 21.
With files from a press release.