by Nancy Tinari
Over 7,500 competitors took on the challenge of the Times Colonist Garden City 10K in Victoria on Sunday, April 29th.
Most of the course winds through Beacon Hill Park. It is a scenic but difficult course with a hill at halfway and a more subtle but taxing gradual uphill section that seems to last forever within the last two kilometres. On this day, the powerfully gusting wind was everyone’s main competitor for the first half of the race.
My race strategy was to run very conservatively for the first 5K. The week before, at the Sun Run, I had gone out too fast and struggled badly in the last 2K. In Victoria, I felt great after a relaxed first mile, but hitting the wind beside the ocean was no fun. I was forced to jump from one group to another but a large pack of runners that I could see in the distance was too far away for me to go after. I could see Lucy Smith near the front of this group as well as some of the top male masters runners.
Rob Reid, a top master from Victoria, helped me a lot along the windy stretch before the 5K mark. Every time I tucked in behind him I felt like I was running ridiculously slowly, but when I took turns leading, he always quickly surged ahead. I finally left him on the downhill before the turnaround.
At that point, I focussed all my attention on Lucy and worked to narrow the gap between us. I felt really good once the wind was behind me. At 6 km I could see Krystyna Pieczulis close to Lucy, but Jackline Torori was far ahead, out of sight.
As the gap between myself and the other women narrowed, I passed a male competitor who muttered, “Oh no, not YOU again!”
At about 8K I passed Lucy, and a couple of minutes later I passed Krystyna. She hung on to me, however, and with about 500m to go she passed me and put a few metres between us as I wondered whether I could survive any more of the grinding uphill.
Competitive instinct took over when I saw the finish line. With about 100m remaining, I switched gears to my best sprint mode. I think I took Krystyna by surprise as I passed her shortly before the line.
Jackline Torori was the women’s winner, finishing well ahead of me in 34:06, but I was very pleased with my time (34:50) and my finishing place under the difficult conditions. Lucy also ran a strong race to place 4th overall in 35:08.
Race results at Prairie Inn Harriers site.