June 26th. Lethbridge’s resident Kenyan, Kip Kangogo, and Washington State’s Ruth Perkins both ran canny, intelligent races this morning to claim victory at the 13th annual Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon in front of a record field of 4,815 . Another 1,396 ran the companion 5K for a grand total of over 6,200 participants. Equally impressive, more than $600,000 was raised for some 40 — mostly local — charities in the Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge. Weather conditions were also ideal for the runners, as they took off at 7am from UBC on one of the world’s most-scenic courses down to Stanley Park: 12 degrees, a little cloud, and hardly a breath of wind. For Kangogo, it was his third win in a row at SVHM; and he displayed a lot of his racing experience and familiarity with the course, as good competition pushed him to his best time in the 3 victories, of 63:22.
From the start, Kanagogo was at the front of a pack of 8 who went through 1km in 3 minutes even, and began to open up an appreciable gap over the rest of the runners. (see VIDEO clip). They settled into a rhythm and passed 2k in 6:03 and 3k in 9:00, around the UBC Campus. By the time they reached 5k in a very even 14:58, then 6k in 18:00, attrition had whittled the pack down to the 5 main contenders: Kanagogo, Athletics Toronto’s Matt Loiselle, Speed River TFCs Rob Watson, Vancouver’s Dylan Wykes, and Lethbridge’s Kenyan student, Willy Kimosop. With the exception of Kimosop, all four are planning to begin training in the next two weeks for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th, when they’ll be racing for the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:11:30 and a trip to London 2012 — so today’s race was a great opportunity to see where current fitness levels are, and to kick-start their Olympic bids.
Just after 7k [21:03] Loiselle started to push the pace and in fairly short order the group was down to three. Despite his internationally competitive 62:14 PR at the New York City Half on March 20th, Wykes is coming off a month’s vacation back home with family in Kingston, and he and young Kimosop could not hold on. Loiselle continued to boss the pace down the major hill from UBC onto Spanish Banks, and he, Kanagogo and Watson cruised through 10K in 29:37. (see VIDEO clip). Then, as Loiselle kept the pressure on with two more sub 3-minute kilometres [11k in 32:33 & 12k in 35:31] Watson gradually slipped back. As Loiselle and Kangogo continued to turn the screw up the first major rise from Jericho Beach to 4th Avenve, the break became complete and the race was down to two (13k in 38:38 with hill). “I wanted to come here and give it my best shot,” said a satisfied Watson after the race. “There was no point in coming here to run for 3rd or 4th, so I wanted to get up there and give it a shot.”
Kangogo strategically tucked in behind Loiselle through Point Grey, allowing his younger adversary to do the lifting until the pace began to slip between 14k & 15k [41:46 & 44:55]. He moved out to take charge. After softening up Loiselle through Kits Beach, Kangogo dropped the hammer going up the kilometre-long rise on Burrard Bridge between 18k and 19k. The move was swift and decisive. Kangogo then covered the 20th kilometre coming down off the bridge in a spritely 2:34 and it was all over (see VIDEO clip). Matt Loiselle hung on for a strong 2nd place in 63:47 [a new PR], and Rob Watson stayed tough to hold off a late move from Dylan Wykes for 3rd and 4th places [64:20 and 64:35]. As @robbiedxc tweeted, “that bridge sucked. I wanted to jump off”. Kimosop took 5th in 66:04, and Loiselle’s improving training partner, Rejean Chiasson, was 6th in 66:15.
The Women’s race was no less intriguing in it’s outcome, featuring some veterans and some exciting new, up-and-coming talent. As I asked in yesterday’s Preview Blog, would this be Keddi-Anne Sherbino’s “Coming out party or her come-uppance?” The 21 year-old student from Tsawwassen has burst onto the scene with two marathon runs and two victories: 2:53 in Okanagan last Fall and then a 10-minute improvement to 2:43 in Vancouver on May 1st. In the end it was neither. Keddi -Anne showed there is definitely a talent to be developed with some more-structured training, clocking a solid 1:18:09 for 6th, and less than 2 minutes back of winner Ruth Perkins (1:16:14).
Like Kip Kangogo, the 32 year-old mother of two, Perkins, showed her guiles in getting today’s victory. Two other new Canadian talents on the road — Port Moody’s Natasha Wodak and St. John’s, Newfoundland’s Kate Vaughan — pushed the early pace and created some considerable excitement. Both ran the 5,000m on the track at the Canadian Nationals in Calgary on Friday night, where the rivals from opposite ends of the country actually roomed together. Much more of a 5,000m and 10,000m track runner, Wodak said she went out “much too fast. I was 34:34 at 10k. I was faster for my 5k split this morning than I was on the track for 5,0000m Friday night! The last 5k were painful, but I’m glad I hung on and finished strong. My 1:17:14 today was 5 minutes faster than the only other half marathon I’ve run, about 4 years ago. I enjoyed the roads this morning much more than the track on Friday! But I’m going to have to do more training if I’m going to race this far again.” The more-experienced American, who is working on her speed in early build up to the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston in January, bided her time. Perkins ran behind Vaughan and Wodak until Natasha injudiciously surged ahead after 5k. The American then ran with Vaughan until around 10k, when she moved out in pursuit of the speedy Wodak. “Around 13 or 14k I just went BAM and everything just seized up,” said Wodak. Perkins caught her at that key point around 18k going onto the uphill of the Burrard Bridge. “I tried to fight her off,” said Wodak, “but she just went by me. All I could do was watch her!” A very satisfied Perkins said that she also wanted to “practice racing today, not just going for a time. I wanted to race the other girls.” The 26-year-old Vaughan then passed Wodak to take 2nd in 1:16:24 — just 10 seconds behind Perkins and closing. “I was pleased with today. It was ok,” said the Newfoundlander. “I would have liked to run a bit faster, but the legs just weren’t as peppy as I’d like after Friday night.” She will go onto defend her title and shoot for a course record (55:47) at her hometown “Telly Ten” next month, arguably the best race in Atlantic Canada. Last year she ran 56:36 there, the 3rd fastest women’s time at the race, and the fastest time there in almost 20 years. After the Telly Ten, Vaughan will aim for a breakthrough performance at the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half. We’ll see Natasha Wodak next in the CRS’ OASIS ZooRun 10K on September 24th — again the Athletics Canada National 10K Road Championships.
Vancouver’s Gillian Gook had a quietly impressive run for 4th in 1:17:33, and Calgary’s Emily Kroshus, who was crowned National Marathon Champion after her win in Ottawa a month ago, began her comeback with a 1:18:58 for 7th, one place behind Keddi-Anne Sherbino. Fellow Calgarian and defending Champion, Lisa Harvey, had a tough day with some new orthotics and struggled home 9th in 1:20:11. Toronto’s Jane Cullis perhaps had the toughest day, clocking a disappointing 1:20:18 for 10th — 4 minutes off the breakthrough time she ran in Toronto 5 weeks ago. Harvey’s run was still good enough to earn her top Women’s Masters Honours. The Men’s Masters crown went to Vancouver’s Kevin O’Connor who came home in an impressive 70:18, 8th overall.
Stanley Park, with the snow-capped North Shore Mountains and the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, provided an appropriately inspirational Finish Line for an exciting morning of racing, running and fundrasing. Runner’s World’s Coach Jenny Hadfield gave the event “Two thumbs up! Beautiful course. Great crowd support. And a very cool finisher’s medal.” And David Porte closed out the day for me with an enormous smile. He personally raised $44,000 for Juvenile Arthritis, as the captain of “Cassie and Friends” team, AND was kind enough to share the team’s celebratory chocolate cake with us! (see VIDEO clip).
Congrats to all!
Complete results at http://www.canadarunningseries.com/svhm/index.htm