Kip Kangogo, Lisa Harvey confirmed to defend titles as CRS 2013 begins at Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K this Sunday.

Kip Kangogo softening up Ben Thistlewood & Sam Pawluk around the Seawall in the early stages of last year's SRO

VANCOUVER. March 20th. It’s officially Spring in the frozen North, and Canada Running Series is all set to begin a new season this Sunday with the 7th Annual Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K in world-famous Stanley Park. While the opening race is the newest and smallest in the Series, it delivers all of the premium organization and quality, fun and excitement of Canada’s premier running circuit. Both 2012 men’s and women’s champions – Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge and Lisa Harvey of Calgary – are back to defend, more than 1,000 runners are already signed up, there’s a great new charitable beneficiary in the Arthritis Society, and good weather is in the forecast!

Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K is a great experience for runners of all levels

Kangogo, a 34 year old from the village of Kitura in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, moved to Lethbridge in 2001 to attend Letbridge Commmunity College, and has been one of the top contenders in Canada Running Series over the last 3 years. In 2010 he finished 4th overall in the circuit. In 2011 he moved up to 3rd. And last year he finished 2nd, only to Olympic marathoner Reid Coolsaet. He began CRS 2012 with a clinical performance at the Vancouver Spring Run Off where he remained content to sit behind younger, less experienced road racers Sam Pawluk and Ben Thistlewood from Point Grey TFC for the first 3km, before taking charge to cruise to victory in 24:00. A game Pawluk hung on for second in 24:37; Thistlewood faded to 5th (25:13). [watch VIDEO: post-race Interview with Kip after SRO 2012]. While Kip will toe the line as this year’s favourite to repeat, Pawluk will be back a year older and wiser, joined by an in-form Richard Mosley who ran a 15:04 5K last weekend.

Lisa Harvey with her Game-Face on, en route to victory last year.

It could be even more of a challenge for veteran Olympian Lisa Harvey to retain her crown. In addition to last year’s 2nd and 3rd place women’s finishers, Sabrina Wilkie and Katherine Moore, (who ran 28:40; 29:08; 29:25, respectively), Harvey will have to fend off Athletics Toronto’s Kate Van Buskirk and Erin Burrett from Nanaimo. Van Buskirk had a tough race at the Athletics Canada National Cross Country Championships at Jericho last November, but still placed 5th in the Senior Women’s race; and she ran 27:28 to place 2nd at Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8K last April. This will be a rare road appearance before she goes back to the track in an attempt to secure a place on the Canadian team at the World Championships in Moscow in August. (Three of the 4 women who finished ahead of her at the National Cross last Fall are in Bydgoszcz, Poland this weekend for the World Cross Country Championships).

Kate Van Buskirk powers her way around Grenadier Pond in High Park at last year's Harry's Spring Run Off Toronto 8K

While online registration is now closed, it’s still possible to sign up for “Opening Day” at Canada Running Series 2013and be part of the excitement – either at Denman Street Running Room on Saturday, or at Stanley Park Pavilion on Sunday morning.

Canada Running Series is the country’s premier running circuit. In 2012, its 9 events attracted over 55,000 participants, who in turn raised more than $6.1 million for 238 mostly-local charities in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

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