On Saturday morning in Hamilton, Ont., a local road 5K race, part of the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon weekend, saw three men run under 14 minutes and Lucia Stafford run within four seconds of the Canadian 5K record of 15:16 in her first road race.
Since it was Stafford’s first 5K race, she had few expectations. She followed the Canadian record pace of 3:03/km set by Alex Cyr, who set the pace for Canadian 5K champion Julie-Anne Staehli. Stafford sat on Staehli’s heels as they reached the 3 km mark around nine minutes and 10 seconds. Stafford stormed ahead to take the lead with two kilometres to go and never looked back, winning the Endorphin Elite 5K in 15:20.
Stafford took home $2,000 for the win and an extra $1,000 for being the first female finisher under 16 minutes. Stafford was only four seconds shy of Emilie Mondor’s Canadian 5K record of 15:16, which has stood for 18 years. Staehli finished second in 15:44, and steeplechaser Erin Teschuk was third in 16:13.
In a post-race interview with Stafford, she claimed she was stunned by her speedy time and hopes to do more road races in the future.
Although the men’s race was missing the well-known firepower of Charles Philibert-Thiboutot and Ben Flanagan, three up-and-coming Canadian elites battled to the finish. The pace was taken out at a 14-flat 5K pace through 2 km, with seven or eight men were at the front. With less than a kilometre to go, Jeremy Coughler and Connor Black of London, Ont., made a move, pulling ahead of Toronto’s Andrew Alexander. Coughler sprinted to the finish line, beating his Bandits teammate by one second, in 13:55. Alexander crossed the finish line for third in 13:59, bettering his time by seven seconds from the Canadian 5K Championships in September.
The course was a single-loop, flat and fast 5K route along Hamilton’s Waterfront Trail, starting and finishing at Confederation Park. The warm temperature of 18 C on Saturday morning made for summer-like conditions for the elite racers.
For all the results from Hamilton Race Weekend, click here.