July 26, 2003 – It was a hot morning for racing at the Summerfast 10k 2003, held in Stanley Park. Even an ocean breeze wasn’t sufficient to keep the runners comfortable. At least, not the highly competitive elites at the front of the pack. Two Islanders won the men’s and women’s races: Aussie triathlete Greg Bennett (training in Victoria for the summer) who showed up in Squamish last year to win that 10k; and Stephanie Mills, who is rapidly moving up in the Series rankings following her win at the Post to Post.
For something a little different, here are race reports from the point of view of two of the elites, Jorge Parra (3rd place and Series overall leader) and Joan McGrath (2nd woman). They provided such good reports we decided to post them here in their entirety rather than just bits and pieces in a new report. Thanks to Jorge and Joan!!!
Jorge Parra’s Summerfast report:
It was a hot summer morning, runners lined up. There was a bit of struggle trying to get everyone behind the narrow start line. But finally the yellow square machines were silent and after a warm welcoming by race director Simon Cowell, we were on our way.
Off went Greg Bennett, world-class triathlete who decided to join the race in the last moment. He quickly opened a 200 metre gap from the front pack of runners and we didn’t see him much longer…
A challenging course due to Stanley Park’s never-ending, running community-annoying construction, we crossed the Lost Lagoon trying as hard as we could to pick up the pace on a non stable surface. Then under the new Georgia Street underpass, puffing, jumping through rocks, dust, and cars, thanks a million for the volunteers directing us and stopping the traffic – “great work!”
We climbed Pipeline Road for a little bit past the rose garden, then made a sharp 150º right turn to cross and jump between roses and flowers. At this point a still compact front pack composed of Robin Weeks, Ken Myers, Kevin O’Connor, Jaime Munoz, Spencer Morrison, Richard Lee, Norm Tinkham, Bertrand Plouvier, Ed Booth and myself took advantage of the only downhill in the course to make display of our abilities. Then into yet another 180º turn left to head onto the seawall en route to our final destination.
This pack stayed pretty much together, changing leadership from time to time until we reached the halfway mark. There a smiling Dave Reed was calling out our split times and I realized that the heat and the strong wind of the morning had drained more than half our energy reserves. With heart and whatever legs we had left, Weeks and I took the leadership (way behind Bennett whom we could not see any longer). Weeks had a bit more left than I did and eventually crossed the finish line in second place in a time of 32:13, opening a 15 second gap on me and leaving me to the dreaded bewitched THIRD place (I need a cleansing!).
While recovering my breath I took a second to bow to this new running God (Bennett), not knowing where he had come from. Bennett commented that the race was fun although the very hot weather and wind plus the sharp turns set him way off his planned pace. He also manifested to us that he would be competing in a triathlon next weekend (thank you for that!), and that he wishes to participate in the Sun Run next year.
A very fit and lean looking Stephanie Mills (is she trying to take the Series from Queen Tinari?) rushed to cross the finish and nabbed first place for women, followed closely by a happy Joan McGrath who, although she is working like a machine, still runs great races.
So slow running for almost everyone, not many records set today; maybe in Squamish we will have better conditions. Great job by the VFAC team. Hope than in ten years the construction is over and we can have our race course back…
Joan McGrath’s Summerfast report:
The race start was a little hairy because we started on the little running/walking path on the other side of the main road. Stephanie [Mills] was in the lead the whole race. Another girl from the Island, Laura Reback, who competes in triathlons was in second place, running just behind Stephanie until Lumberman’s Arch. Stephanie was running a strong race even though it was hot and a little windy on parts of the course.
Stephanie ran with a small group of men and I was able to see her in front the whole way… which is very unusual because I never see her in front—she is so fast!! I passed Laura just before we got near the Lions Gate Bridge. She told me to go get Stephanie just as I told her to stay with me. A lot of VFAC members had been saying how good of a runner Laura was and that she would most likely win the race. I think the heat got her and she went out too fast with Stephanie. She ended up fifth.
The race was tough and I was anticipating a second water station at Third Beach but there was none to be found. I started to fade away and I think a lot of runners did too at that point!
Stephanie started to pick up the pace as we got closer to Second Beach by the pool. Even Alex Seres couldn’t stay with her! She looked strong as she flew along the main stretch up the hill to the finish line. Of course I came in second with my usual finish, puking! Darcie Montgomery took third, after running right behind me the whole way. I could hear Mark Shorter cheering us on but somewhere along the line she faded because I didn’t hear Mark call her name as I passed him.
After finishing I ran back along the course to cheer others on. Betty Jean McHugh and Lenore Montgomery had an excellent race—they were very close together at the finish line. Many people said that it was a hard race due to the many sharp turns, the heat and wind (I enjoyed the wind but can live without the heat!).
Next Series race: Squamish Days 10k, Sunday August 3rd, 9:00am. Flat and fast out-and-back course along quiet roads.