University of Victoria runners Ben Weir and Alison Hooper were the first overall men’s and women’s finishers in Sunday’s Bazan Bay 5K race in Sidney.
A field of around 519 people took part in the event, that saw cool temperatures, but no rain, and was described as very good conditions for the mostly flat, quick course along Lochside Drive. The race is the final event in the Island Race Series 2018 calendar and was followed by a season-end awards ceremony at the Mary Winspear Centre.
Weir, who said he placed second in the event two years ago, says the course is beautiful.
“I love the races here. It’s nice and close to home. We had a pretty good crowd of guys out there,” he said, adding he was hoping to win the race.
“We were all pushing each other, trying to go a little faster.”
He said Josh Kozelj, who won last year’s Bazan Bay race in 15:17, pushed him a lot over the course of the event.
“He’d respond real well, and try to pull away from me a little bit.”
Kozelj placed second overall, followed by another UVic runner in third, Derrick Evans.
The 5K and 10K racer for UVic is training now for the Times Colonist 10K and then he’s on to Portland’s Twilight track event, racing in the 5,000 metre run.
Hooper (F25-29) said this was her fifth time on the course and her second win in as many years.
“This is the best weather we’ve ever had. It wasn’t windy, it wasn’t raining. The last bit felt a little harder than normal, but that was just where I was at today.”
Her goal was to be under 16:30, and just missed her goal, finishing at 16:47. She was the first female finisher in the 2017 race in a time of 17:01.
Following Hooper in second place overall among the women was Chloe Hegland (UVic) and in third place was Catrin Jones (F35-39).
Hooper, a UVic cross country runner and former professional triathlete, said the course felt smooth and fast, but said she prefers the mud, grass and hills of cross country. She’s training now for national-level racing.
Her next race will be the Sun Run for training, then race in the TC 10K and then will join Weir down in Portland later this year.