Wykes and Marchant notch emphatic victories at Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon. $830,000 raised for charity.

Dylan's back... leading the pack!

Dylan’s back… leading the pack!

VANCOUVER. June 22nd. Dylan Wykes and Lanni Marchant showed why they are Canada’s #1 ranked Men’s and Women’s marathoners with emphatic victories at today’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon. Wykes ran 63:52 for his win; Marchant 73:41 for the Women’s crown. Conditions were perfect for the 4,000 half-marathoners who lined up at UBC at 7:30am. Skies were clear and bright, the temperature was 12c, and there was hardly a breath of wind throughout the majestic course along Pacific shores, down to world-famous Stanley Park. Another 2,100 participants ran and walked in the accompanying 5K in the park. Combined, the 6,100 entrants came from 29 countries, 8 Canadian provinces, and 30 American states. Together, they raised an impressive $830,000 for 79 mostly-local charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.
The story of the day was “Dylan’s back”! It’s been 2 years of injuries and fatigue as Wykes has battled back from his London Olympic marathon journey that saw him race 4 hard marathons in a year. Under the guidance of Coach Richard Lee at the BC Endurance Project he has worked his way back to 140km to 160km training

Dylan Wykes racing along scenic Spanish Banks

Dylan Wykes racing along scenic Spanish Banks

weeks, and 2 solid 10K performances this Spring – -a 29:11 in the Sun Run in April and a 29:40 in Ottawa on May 24th. Today was his first longer-distance race, and he meant business from the Start. He pulled a pack of 5 through the first kilometre in 2:50. By 3km [8:44] they were down to four: Wykes, defending champion Kip Kangogo who has owned this race, winning 4 of the last 5 editions, Rob Watson and Athletics Toronto’s Sami Jibril. After the group cruised through 5km in 14:49, Dylan began to turn the screws. First his training partner Watson slipped back, then Kangogo and Jibril together. He passed 10k in a brisk 29:31, and 15k in 44:53. Although he tired a little in the numerous turns around Kits Point [16k to 18k] and over the challenging Burrard Bridge [18k to 19k], he crossed the line almost a minute and a half clear of a beaten Kangogo [65:14]. Watson came back on Jibril on the hill to West 4th at 12k then held on for 3rd [67:16], with Jibril 4th in 67:38. Victoria, BC, Masters’ star, Jim Finlayson, who set a new provincial 10,000m on the track 2 weeks ago [31:04] came on to take 5th in 68:21. A visibly delighted Wykes said, “It felt great today. At least for about 15k! The second half was tough, with no one to push me, but I’m pleased with the win.” Kangogo, who won the Calgary Marathon just 3 weeks ago said he was “running on marathon legs. When Dylan made the move at 5km I couldn’t go with him. I tried to stay close, and closed the gap a bit in Jericho [11km to 12km]. I thought I could close it more on Burrard Bridge but the gap was just too big.” It was the only time in 6 years that Kip has failed to run 63 minutes on the course.

Lanni Marchant with an authoritative performance

Lanni Marchant with an authoritative performance

Lanni Marchant also had something to prove, as she toed the line in her final tune-up before running for Canada in the Commonwealth Games Marathon on July 27th in Glasgow, Scotland. Following her outstanding 2:28:00 performance at last October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon that took out a 28-year-old national record, Marchant had a good winter training in Kenya with American Desi Linden. She then showed she could race competitively on the international scene with a strong 14th place finish at the Boston Marathon in April. “I’m very happy with today,” she said. “It was a real confidence booster. My training’s been a bit up and down since Boston, with the recovery, plus a bunch of 10k races I’ve done. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was fitness, and long-distance racing-wise. I planned to go through 10k in around 35 minutes today, and run around the time I did. I feel I’m in a good place for Glasgow.” Like Wykes, Marchant took charge early. She moved away from a women’s pack around 4km, passed 10km in 34:29, and never looked back. The race for the places was a good deal more absorbing, as Corner Brook, NLs Kate Bazeley proved her 2:40:49 marathon debut in Houston in January was no fluke. Through the first 15km, Bazeley battled Vancouver Marathon winner [2:37:00], Kim Doerksen of Gibson’s, BC, plus outstanding Masters’ athletes, Catherine Watkins [BC Endurance] and Marilyn Arsenault [Victoria, BC]. The 23-year-old Doerksen went out aggressively, but eventually faded to 4th in 77:01. Bazeley proved the best of the bunch, coming home 2nd in 76:40, with the indefatigable, 46-year-old Arsenault catching Doerksen coming down off Burrard Bridge [19km] to take 3rd [76:52]. Watkins, who has raced a lot recently in a banner season, was 5th in 77:44.

The battle of Spanish Banks for the Women's places: Bazeley (F9), Arsenault (51), Watkins (F5), with Doerksen giving them 'the look' (F4).

The battle of Spanish Banks for the Women’s places: Bazeley (F9), Arsenault (51), Watkins (F5), with Doerksen giving them ‘the look’ (F4).

All in all, it was a “day for the ages”, as young, developing athletes Jibril and Doerksen gained valuable experience; veterans Finlayson, Arsenault and Watkins were superb – with Arsenault claiming she might be old but is still “gnarly” — and the class of the field stamped their authority all over it, showing why they are Canada’s best and Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon 2014 champions.

Complete results available online.

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