As the crow flies, it’s about 21 Km from downtown Vancouver to Ladner. On Sunday, February 19, Jon Brown will likely cover the same distance around Stanley Park in slightly over an hour. Less time than it often takes to commute. Only Brown will be running, not driving.
As the fourth place finisher in each of the last two Olympic marathons, Brown is expected to set a course record in the 2006 Pacific Road Runners “First Half” Half Marathon. Each of his three half marathons in 2005 was completed in under one hour four minutes, and his all-time best is 1:01:49. So Bruce Deacon’s 1992 record of 1:04:45 is in serious jeopardy. A British international, who has called Victoria home for the last six years and is now a Canadian citizen, Brown is firm favourite to win the 18th edition of the race.
Hoping to be pulled to a fast time will be one of Canada’s rising stars of distance running. Steve Osaduik of Nanaimo was the 2004 Canadian Half Marathon champion, and has a best time of 1:05:26. Both Brown and Osaduik are using the race as preparation for the London Marathon in April. Osaduik has also been selected to represent Canada at the World Cross Country Championships in Japan later this year.
Also expected to contest positions on the podium are Albertans Jason Loutitt and Ken Myers, winners of the Calgary Marathon in 2005 and 2004 respectively. Loutitt is also the Canadian Mountain Running Champion.
Additional local competition will come from Nik Southwell of Victoria, winner of the 2005 Edge-to-Edge Marathon; and Oliver Utting and Warren Barker of Vancouver, who finished first and second in the 2005 Timex BC Road Running Series.
On the women’s side, 2004 “First Half” champion and course record holder (1:12:47) Tina Connelly of Port Coquitlam returns, following the birth of her second child in 2005. She will face stiff competition from Calgarian Lisa Harvey, a three time winner of the race. Both Connelly and Harvey competed at the 2005 World Half Marathon Championships in Edmonton, helping Canada to a sixth place team finish.
Challenging them will be Suzanne Evans from New Westminster, winner of the 2005 Royal Victoria Marathon; Lindsay McLaren from Calgary; Darcie Montgomery from North Vancouver; Nikki Knapp from Vancouver; Joan McGrath from New Westminster; and triathlete Christine Fletcher from Vancouver, who finished third at the 2005 Ironman Canada.
The “First Half” Half Marathon is organized by the Pacific Road Runners with support from New Balance, and is the second race in the 2006 Timex BC Road Running Series. Proceeds from the event benefit Variety – the Children’s Charity. The race starts at 8:30am on Sunday, February 19, from the Roundhouse Community Centre in downtown Vancouver. The course takes the runners around BC Place Stadium and on a loop of the Stanley Park seawall.
For additional information, visit the event website at www.pacificroadrunners.ca/firsthalf.