The 21st Annual “First Half” Half Marathon on February 15th will feature many of Western Canada’s finest distance runners. Both the men’s and the women’s races will be keenly contested, with no clear favourites for the $3,000 in prize money.
The men’s field includes Richard Mosley, who recently won the BC 8K Championship at the Prairie Inn Pioneer 8K, where he beat Canada’s top marathoner, Jon Brown. This will be Richard’s first appearance at the “First Half”. Not so for Steve Osaduik, who won the “First Half” in 2006, and has been third the last two years. Steve is also a three-time winner of the Royal Victoria Marathon. Two more of Canada’s top marathoners are Jerry Ziak, who has twice been a runner-up at the “First Half”, and Ryan Day, who won the Royal Victoria Half Marathon last fall. Rounding out a quintet of athletes who will be hoping to run the 21.1 kilometres in around 1:06 or quicker is Saskatoon’s Jason Warick. Most of these leading contenders will be trying to qualify for places on Canada’s team to the World Marathon Championships in Berlin later this year. To do so they will need to run the full marathon distance in 2:18 or quicker.
A quartet of Vancouver Island’s finest road runners will also be aiming to be in the prize money with a top-5 finish. Todd Howard represented Canada at last years Austin Marathon. Scott Simpson is a former Canadian 10,000m champion. Jason Terauchi-Loutitt is an international mountain runner. And Matt Clout is a talented young up and comer.
Former UBC track and cross country star, Shane Carlos from Whitehorse, fresh off a convincing win at the Icebreaker 8K, also cannot be discounted in his half marathon debut. Other leading contenders from the Vancouver area include Jay MacDonald, Oliver Utting, Simon Driver and Mark Bomba. Having just turned 40, Bomba is favourite for the masters’ race. But he will have to be at his best to hold off former “First Half” winners Neil Holm and Norm Tinkham. Two former Olympians will also be contesting the older age groups in Paul McCloy and Art Boileau.
The women’s race will be no less exciting. Lucy Smith won the BC 8K Championship in early January, with Cheryl Murphy close behind. Places were reversed however two weeks later at the Cobble Hill 10K. The two Victoria athletes will renew their rivalry at the “First Half”. But don’t discount Calgary’s Lisa Harvey, who has never finished worse than second on each of her nine appearances at the “First Half”. Equally capable of pulling off the win is Suzanne Evans, another three-time winner of the Royal Victoria Marathon. Others likely to run 1:20 or quicker include locals Kristina Rody and Rachel Ruus, Calgary’s Lindsay McLaren, and Saskatoon’s Brandi Pozniak.
Lucy Smith is also expected to be the top masters finisher, with Nancy Tinari, Rita Ivanauskas, Joan McGrath, and Nurten Tasdemir all vying for that position.
The “First Half” Half Marathon is organized by the Pacific Road Runners with support from Mizuno, and is the third race in the 2009 Timex BC Road Running Series. Proceeds from the event benefit Variety – the Children’s Charity, with $40,000 donated in 2008. The race starts at 8:30am on Sunday, February 15, from the Roundhouse Community Centre in downtown Vancouver. The course takes the runners around BC Place Stadium and on a loop of Stanley Park. The event sold out in just over 3 hours when entries opened last November.
For additional information, visit the event website at www.pacificroadrunners.ca/firsthalf