Feb 1/07, Vancouver: This year’s 19th annual Pacific Road Runners “First Half” Half Marathon promises to be one of the most competitive road races seen in Vancouver. With record prize money and an event record bonus on the line, many of Canada’s best distance runners will be present on Sunday, February 11, as well as 2,000 others with no less ambitious personal goals.
Defending champion Steve Osaduik from Nanaimo will be back, following a very successful last 12 months. He is Canada’s top ranked marathoner, winning the Royal Victoria Marathon last Thanksgiving in 2:16:49, and also the reigning national Half Marathon champion. Last year he had to work hard for victory, out-duelling Jason Loutitt in the last two miles. Jason also returns, and as a member of Canada’s mountain running team, the change of course necessitating a climb over Prospect Point, may favour him.
Ryan Hayden will be making his debut at the half marathon distance. As the second ranked Canadian at 10K last year, and a sub-4 minute miler, his finishing speed could be a factor.
Jerry Ziak was the 2005 Canadian 10K champion, as well as the “First Half” runner-up that year, and he will return to try and improve on that position.
All will be made to work hard to make the podium by the presence of Jon Brown from Victoria, fourth place finisher in each of the last two Olympic marathons (representing Great Britain), and never beaten by a Canadian in a race in Canada.
Others likely to be seen near the front include Mark Bomba, 2005 Canadian Half Marathon champion; Richard Mosley, making his half marathon debut off a third place finish at the 2005 Vancouver Sun Run; Ryan Day, runner-up at both the Marathon and Half Marathon national championships in 2005; Nik Southwell, recent winner of the Tucson Half Marathon; Ken Myers, Oliver Utting, and Graeme Wilson, as well as leading masters and former “First Half” winners Colin Dignum and Norman Tinkham.
The women’s race will be no less enthralling. Lucy Smith was national champion at both the half marathon and 10K last year, and is also a twice former winner of the “First Half”. One other former “First Half” winner will also toe the starting line. Lisa Harvey is a triple former winner of the “First Half”, and was runner-up at the national half marathon championships last year.
But past victories at the “First Half” is no guarantee of further success. Pushing these former champions hard will be Suzanne Evans, winner of the Royal Victoria Marathon, and Judith Leroy, runner-up in that race. Lindsay McLaren, who finished third at last years “First Half”, also returns. Kirsty Smith, a former track star who is making her debut at the distance, completes the women’s elite field.
The “First Half” Half Marathon is organized by the Pacific Road Runners with support from New Balance, and is the second race in the 2007 Timex BC Road Running Series. Proceeds from the event benefit Variety – the Children’s Charity, with $37,500 donated in 2006. The race starts at 8:30am on Sunday, February 11, 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 less than 12 hours when entries opened last November.
For additional information, visit the event website at www.pacificroadrunners.ca/firsthalf.