Elites target course records of Victoria Marathon

Cash prizes entice faster runners to challenge the course records of Victoria full and half marathons

2011 winner Thomas Omwenga returns for the 2012 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon on Sunday.

With apologies to the old adage, but it’s records, not rules, which are meant to be broken.

Three of the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon’s bigger records were reset last year, one of them 22 years old. And this Sunday there’s no reason those three records, plus more, can’t be broken once more in the marathon’s 33rd year.

“There’s a very good chance the men’s and women’s marathon records could fall once again,” said Jonathan Foweraker, marathon’s elite athlete coordinator.

The marathon’s board of directors made a bold choice this year by loosening the regulations for the cash bonus to course record-breakers. Previously, the course record bonus of $5,000 was reserved to Canadian citizens, meaning last year’s winner, Thomas Omwenga, who earned $3,000 for the win, was unable to collect the added $5,000 course bonus.

That changes this year as the men’s and women’s marathon bonuses, including $1,000 for the half-marathon, are extended to permanent residents and refugees who have been domiciled in Canada for at least a year.

Omwenga returns after breaking Steve Osadiuk’s 2006 time of two hours, 16 minutes and 49 seconds last year with a time of 2:14:33.

“Omwenga has a better personal-best than that, and we must note that in 2011 he ran a marathon in Montreal the week before. This time he’s rested up,” Foweraker said.

The Canadian-based Kenyan has won two marathons already this year, in Manitoba and Quebec, and his last race was Niagara’s Run for Grapes half-marathon, which he won on Sept. 23.

The competition is tight in the men’s elite pack with 2010-winner Philip Samoei, who came second last year at 2:25:41 and, Cache Creek’s Ryan Day, who was third last year at 2:26:42  also returning.

Elites keying in on the women’s marathon are Gillian Clayton, an Ironman triathlete who has a personal best of 2:54 from 2011, Hallie Jansen, the 2004-winner, who ran 2:45 in 2011, 2010-winner Catrin Jones, who ran 2:48 last year and Nadyia Fry, third in 2011 with 2:55.

Eyeing up first in the women’s half-marathon is another Canadian-based Kenyan, Lucy Njeri, who smashed the marathon record of with a time of 2:37:56 in 2011.

Cracking the women’s half-marathon record might be beyond Njeri, however, as Natasha Wodak set the bar high with her course record of 1:15:27 last year.

Other notables for Sunday: the masterful movement of Jim Finlayson. Now 40, the local runner joins the masters ranks. For the fourth year in a row the Victoria Marathon will act as the B.C. Championships. The advent of an expanded Elite B category means free entry to more runners, particularly women, from the local scene, rather than just international runners.

Cycling Tara Whitten

Olympic cyclist Tara Whitten, who won bronze in London in track cycling, will lead the marathon on Sunday.

A select few cyclists ride about 10 to 20 metres ahead of the lead runner to show them the course and ensure that all marshals are in place with a police motorbike.

Seven cyclists in all will lead out on Sunday, guiding the top male and female in the marathon and half-marathon, and the eight-km road race.

It’s the first time such a high-profile cyclists has joined this portion of the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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