BC Athletics has organized several elite meets and races during the pandemic, the most recent of which was a 10K and half-marathon in Mission, B.C., on March 26. Held on the motorsport track at Mission Raceway Park, fewer than 20 athletes lined up for the On A Mission Half-Marathon and 10K. Luc Bruchet had the run of the day, winning his debut half-marathon in 1:03:12, which places him at ninth all-time among Canadian men.
Bruchet has focused on 5Ks and 10Ks in recent years, and he represented Canada at the 2016 Olympics in the 5,000m. He has his eyes on another Olympic bid, and he will be looking to post some fast 5,000m and 10,000m results in the coming months ahead of the Tokyo Games this summer. While his main goals are on the track for now, that didn’t stop him from testing out the longer half-marathon.
“This was the first time I’ve gone after it in a half-marathon and really approached it as a race,” Bruchet says, noting that he has completed the distance before. Last September, he paced Justin Kent for 17K in a half before slowing down and jogging the final few kilometres. (Kent ran 1:04:20 that day and earned his spot on the Canadian squad for the World Athletics Half-Marathon Championships in Poland, although the team ended up pulling out of the event days before it ran.)
Despite never having run a full 21.1K at full gas, Bruchet says he felt great throughout the On A Mission half, which followed a 2.57K loop of the race track. “It was super comfortable,” he says. “It took me a lap or two to find my rhythm and settle in, but after that my legs never felt too bad.”
Paced for 10K by Thomas Fafard and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (who completed the event’s shorter race in 29:43 and 29:45, respectively), Bruchet, Kent and Tristan Woodfine raced for the top spot in the half-marathon. (Canadian marathon record holder Malindi Elmore also raced the half-marathon, finishing in 1:12:16, and Tokyo-bound marathoner Dayna Pidhoresky ran the 10K, posting a time of 34:41.)
At around halfway, Kent fell off the pace, leaving Bruchet and Woodfine to duke it out for the win. Woodfine has plenty of experience in road racing, and he entered the On A Mission run with a half-marathon PB of 1:03:33.
While his legs felt fine throughout the race, Bruchet says his abdomen began to cramp during the last lap. “I got it under control heading into the final mile, and I made my move and pulled away from Tristan pretty quickly,” he says. He was smart to make his move when he did, because the cramp came back as he approached the line, at which point he just tried to maintain a quick enough pace to hold onto the win.
He crossed the line in 1:03:12, a time that — while a little slower than he had hoped for — Bruchet was happy to run. Woodfine finished a few seconds later, and he posted a new PB of 1:03:19, which is now tied for 11th-best in Canadian history.
Bruchet’s plan is to shift his focus back to the track (he’ll run several races to bolster his chances of qualifying for the Olympics, which he says aren’t too bad right now based on his world ranking in the 5,000m), but he says it’s “a certainty” that he will return to the half-marathon in the near future.
“I definitely see myself running another half or two,” he says. “This wasn’t an ideal build. I had to take time off from the end of December to mid-January to deal with a bit of tendonitis, so I’d like to give it another shot.” If he can nail his training, Bruchet says he would even like to take a shot at the Canadian half-marathon record, which belongs to Jeff Schiebler at 1:01:28.
“If I can get into a race like Houston, why not try to run a little quicker?” he says. That’s still a while away, though, and for now his sights are set solely on Tokyo.