A total of 536 runners hit the streets under sunny, spring like conditions Sunday for the first race in the Vancouver Island Race Series – the Harriers Pioneer 8K on the Peninsula.
“Vancouver athletes dominated the 40th annual Harriers Pioneer 8K by sweeping the top two positions in both the men’s and women’s fields on a clear and sunny day in North Saanich,” said Bob Reid, High Performance director. “We had 14 athletes from Vancouver which is an excellent showing for the first race of the Island Series and the BC Super Series.”
Vancouver’s Anthony Tomsich was the overall winner with Natasha Wodak winning the women’s race in the 40th annual event hosted by the Prairie Inn Harriers.
Tomsich, was a first-time participant and was the clear leader, winning in 24:44. He had been prepping for the race by doing workouts with his club, Miles2Marathon run club.
“I have been putting in some base mileage, so it was nice to come out and enjoy the beautiful weather that we had today,” Tomsich said.
Second was Christopher Taylor, also from Vancouver, in 25:05, and third was Victoria’s Andrew Russell in 25:24.
Top male master, and eighth overall, was James Richardson from Ceevacs Roadrunners in Duncan with a time of 26:18. One of the masters favourite for the title, Jim Finlayson pulled a muscle and had to retire, leaving second place open to 2015 Island Series Champion Craig Odermatt who finished in 26:56. Third was Shane Ruljancich crossing the line in 27:34.
The highly anticipated duel between Wodak, the Canadian 8k record holder, and Rachel Cliff, defending Pioneer champion and the Canadian Half Marathon record holder, did not disappoint with the two virtually neck and neck throughout the race. Wodak, who has won Pioneer six times, finished strong to win the women’s race in 26:04. This was also a F35-39 age class record. Next weekend she will be running the Houston Half Marathon.
“The previous two years at Pioneer I ran around 26:37. I did the same thing last year, ran Pioneer, then the Houston Half Marathon, and I ran 1:11:31 in Houston. So, running a little faster here, I hope to run a little faster in Houston too.”
Cliff couldn’t make it three in a row, finishing second in 26:15. In third and the top female master was Victoria’s Marilyn Arsenault, finishing in 29:00. Arsenault’s time was also an age class record in the F50-54. Second and third masters female finishers also hail from Victoria – Catrin Jones (29:09) and Jen Millar (29:32).
There was a third age class record set by Roslyn Smith from Courtenay in the F70-74. Smith lowered her own record of 2018, finishing in 37:44.