VANCOUVER. March 23rd. Kelly Wiebe and Natasha Wodak got Canada Running Series 2014 off to a flying start with impressive victories at the Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K. It was a picture-perfect Spring morning on the Stanley Park Seawall, with almost 1,000 runners drawn from across the country and as far away as Hawaii and Brazil. Wiebe lead from Start to Finish, and crossed the line in a strong early-season time of 24:03. Wodak, also from the BC Endurance Project with Coach Richard Lee, had much more of a tussle as she fought a see-saw battle with UBCs Rachel Cliff, only breaking away over the last 1500m for the victory in a crisp 26:39. Conditions were ideal, with bright sunshine, a temperature of 5c for the 10am start, that rose to 9c during the morning, and only a light breeze. The energy of a new sponsor in Modo The Car Co-op, a new charity partner, the Take A Hike Foundation, and a new season, all added to the palpable energy in the Springtime air, amongst the big trees and mountains on the Pacific shores.
The 24-year-old Wiebe started CRS 2014 with a decided sense of purpose, in front of the Stanley Park Pavilion.
It came at the end of a pretty big training week, but I still wanted a hard effort, he said in a post-race interview. It was fun out there. A beautiful day. I wanted to make the race honest and make the other guys work. That was the main reason for the hard start. I was on my own after the first kilometre. I guess the pace was a little more honest than I thought!
Following today’s “road cameo” performance, Kelly will now move to the track in earnest in April, at Stanford and Payton Jordan meets, to hopefully make the 28:03 10,000m standard for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. BCEP teammate Kevin Friesen [25:00] came home 2nd, almost a minute back in the “no-contest” decision, with resident Aussie Adam Byles third, another 25 seconds back.
The women’s contest was decidedly more absorbing, with the tasty duel between Wodak and Cliff. It’s an ongoing friendly-feud, that has featured some memorable tussles, including the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the snows of Poland where Natasha bested Rachel by 1 second, for them to take impressive 24th and 25th places overall. According to Natasha,
It was tough coming back after Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October [following an encouraging 2:35:16 debut]. I took 6 days off, then continued to train right through to the National Cross Country Championships 5 weeks later [where she became Champion]. I really didn’t give my body the recovery it needed. So I really struggled with consistency in December. I would stop and start with my training. So in January I just basically ran. In February it started to come together. Then finally, just the last month, I’ve really started to get back to where I want to be. Today’s race was great! I just wanted a good race. Me and Rachel really battled it out. It was pretty much back and forth the whole race. It was a great challenge. Good to have someone out there really going for it. I’m happy!
Though disappointed not to get the win, Cliff was philosophical. “Of course I would have liked to win. But I got a 1 minute PB out of it. When Natasha went a final time around 6.5km that was it. But I’m still really pleased. Now it’s onto the track with a 5000m at Stanford in 2 weeks.”
Wodak will head for a debut at Canada Running Series’ Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 13th, then defend her SunRun 10K title in Vancouver on 27th, before heading to Ottawa for her second marathon on May 25th. Also making a rare road appearance, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory’s Lindsay Carson was an impressive 3rd, just 22 seconds back of Cliff.
The spectacularly scenic course, the Stanley Park venue, and a vibrant, new Modo Community Fair after the race underscored Canada Running Series’ commitment to providing quality races for runners of all levels, and to being an important part of building sustainable communities. The Fair included Modo the Car Co-op, committed to the vision that no-one should have to own a car; HUB, Vancouver’s Bicycle Network; Maker Mobile Workshop on Wheels; Vancouver Farmers’ Markets; Victory Gardens ]We Help You Grow Food]; and Vancouver Tool Library, as well as BC Athletics. “Working with Modo on the race, we’re able to showcase some great facets of the community,” said Race Director Clif Cunningham, “and also deliver a great run for the high-performance, recreational and charity runners alike. Everyone belongs in CRS!”