VANCOUVER. June 20th. The weather forecast looks excellent for this Sunday’s 16th edition of the Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon and 5K, and there is the promise of some excellent racing for this year’s Men’s and Women’s titles.
The men’s race offers an intriguing match-up between Olympian Dylan Wykes and 4-time defending race-champion, Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, who has recently become a Canadian citizen. The exciting news is that “Dylan’s back”! It’s been two years of recovery from injury and fatigue following the London Olympics for Canada’s #1 ranked marathon man [2:10:47 PB], but he heralded his return with a 2nd place finish at the Sun Run in April, in 29:11. He followed that up with a 29:40 at the Ottawa Lowertown Brewery 10K on May 25th, and feels that he’s ready for Sunday’s challenge. ““I know the (Vancouver) course,” he says. “Part of it goes through the neighbourhood where I am living and I know the streets it is run on,” said the Kingston, ON native who trains in Vancouver with the BC Endurance Project under coach Richard Lee.
For victory, however, he will have to reckon with 4-time race Champion, Kip Kangogo. In his recent interview with Paul Gains for Canada Running Series, Wykes noted,
“Kip knows how to get it done, eh? Kip is obviously a super competitor and knows how to win on that course. I hope that I am strong enough to keep up with the lead pack. Kip is a tough guy to beat. I think he has had my number more times than I have had his, in the times we have raced, so it will be tough.”
Indeed, Kangogo has owned the “Scotia Half” men’s race in recent times. He won in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. In 2012 he was 2nd to Reid Coolsaet. His times underscore his consistency and “ownership”: 63:35, 63:51, 63:22, 63:28, and 63:33, since 2009.
In addition, to Wykes and Kangogo, popular BC Endurance member Rob Watson [PB 63:22] expects to be in the mix, as does Athletics Toronto’s Sammy Jibril. The 24-year-old up-and-coming Jibril was 2nd to Olympian Eric Gillis at this year’s Canadian Half marathon National Championships in Montreal on April 27th, going out hard with Gillis and hanging on for almost 15km.
Canada’s new national marathon record holder, Lanni Marchant of London, ON is the strong favourite in the women’s race, but there should be a thrilling battle behind her between the pride of Gibson’s, BC, Kim Doerksen and Corner Brook, NL’s Kate Bazeley. On paper, Marchant is the class of the field. Canada’s #1 ranked women’s marathoner was beaten into 2nd place at last year’s Scotia Half by friend and rival Krista DuChene [71:38 to 70:52]. Lanni then reversed the order in October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she ran a superb 2:28:00 to take out Silvia Ruegger’s 28-year-old Canadian record. Since then she has proven her competitiveness on the international stage, finishing 14th at the Boston Marathon in April, and 10th last weekend in a deep field at the Oakley Mini 10K in New York City. Sunday will be an important, final test of fitness before she heads to Glasgow next month to represent Canada in the Commonwealth Games marathon.
Many eyes, however, will be on the tussle that unfolds just behind Marchant, between Doerksen and Bazeley. Doerksen had a splendid, breakthrough performance to win the BMo Vancouver Marathon on May 4th, in 2:37:00. “Local 23 year old stuns field at Vancouver Marathon” wrote Canadian Running
magazine. On that same wet morning, Kate Bazeley took the women’s title in the accompanying BMo Vancouver Half, in 1:15:18. In January, the 29 year-old Newfoundlander had a low-key, largely unheralded marathon debut in Houston of 2:40:49 [first half in 1:17:37], to set a new provincial record for “The Rock”. On paper, the Doerksen-Bazeley contest should be one of the tastier highlights of this year’s Scotia Half, as the depth builds in Canadian women’s distance running.
Intriguing Masters’ battles are also on offer, between Vancouver’s Catherine Watkins [BC Endurance Project] and Victoria’s Marilyn Arsenault, and Victoria’s Jim Finlayson and Craig Odermatt.
Over 6,000 participants are expected for Sunday’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon and 5K, with over 4,000 in the half. The forecast is for sunny skies, perfect 12c to 15c temperatures, and great racing. More than $750,000 is also expected to be raised for 81 mostly-local charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Entry to the half marathon is still available, at the Expo in the Vancouver Convention Centre East, today [11am to 7pm] and tomorrow [10am to 5pm]. Everyone will have the chance to meet and chat with this year’s top athletes in a Q & A at the Expo tomorrow [Saturday] between 12 noon and 1pm. The panel also includes Reid Coolsaet and Sabrina Wilkie, as well as Wykes, Kangogo, Watson, Jibril, Marchant, Doeksen, Bazeley, Arsenault and Watkins.