© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated
Kenyan, Daniel Kipkoech returns to Victoria, BC for the 2017 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon with the intention of winning for the fourth consecutive time.
“I am very fit and ready to race on Sunday,” said Kipkoech, who owns a personal best of 2:18:49 from the 2015 BMO Vancouver Marathon.
Kipkoech is looking to take the course record Sunday, which stands at 2:13:42. Lamech Mokono also of Kenya, set the record in 2013. Fortunately for Kipkoech, Mokono told organisers Friday, that he will not be racing on Thanksgiving.
“Yes, I am going to start the race and push for the record. I will see how that goes, but I would like to start at that 2:13 pace.”
Kipkoech, who goes back to Kenya each year to step up his training, covers just approximately 110 to 130 kilometres per week.
“I went back to Iten in June to do some training. It is good to train there as there are more than 1000 people I can run with for training, where here there is not so many.”
Kipkoech won Victoria in 2014, 2015 and 2016. “So far, I have run 2:20:04, 2:25:40 and 2:20:33, but my personal best is 2:18:49. I hope to run faster than my best and I will try for the record.”
The weather forecast calls for a mild day with sunny skies and a high to 16 degrees.
“The weather looks good. Even though I am from Kenya, I still find that much over 13 degrees, it becomes too warm for me.”
He also won the BMO Vancouver Marathon in 2016 and 2017. His 2:18:49 time took place when he finished second in 2015.
Lethbridge’s Kip Kangogo will also take in the 38th annual event. The 40-year-old Kangogo owns a best of 2:15:26 from Toronto 2015. Kangogo may be a familiar face to Victorians as he won the TC10K three times, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In the women’s field, Lissa Zimmer from Vancouver will be vying to be the champion. Zimmer owns a best of 2:42.01 from the California International Marathon in 2016. The UBC Thunderbird Alum was also the top Canadian woman during the 2015 B.A.A. Boston Marathon.
The 2017 edition of the marathon is also the provincial championships. Kangogo and Zimmer are the lead Canadians.
The event will also feature Olympian Evan Dunfee who is one of the best 50K racewalkers in the world. The Vancouverite finished heartbreakingly close to a bronze medal during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He was in bronze position until a fellow competitor bumped him throwing him off stride. In an iconic moment of sportsmanship, Dunfee declined an opportunity to protest. He may be able to place in the top-10 amongst runners, while racewalking Sunday and could finish as fast as 2:50-2:55:00.
One of Canada’s all-time great marathon runners, Reid Coolsaet from Guelph will toe the line in the half-marathon. He is also a featured guest speaker, Saturday at the Victoria Conference Centre for the speaker series.
Coolsaet has run as fast as 2:10:28, which makes him the second-fastest Canadian all-time. The record is 2:10:09 from 1975 by Jerome Drayton.
The half marathon field sees Rob Watson from Vancouver back with a goal to better his second placing last year (1:09:55). With a PB of 1:03 he will have competition from Geoff Martinson (PB – 1:05) and Coolsaet. has a PB of 1:02:42.
Watson has run the marathon distance as fast as 2:13:29 as well as 2:13:37, but has since retired and is currently coaching runners in the Vancouver area with Canada’s third-fastest all-time marathon runner Dylan Wykes (2:10:47).
Jim Finlayson is the top-ranked master (45), with a personal best of 1:05:42 at the Comox Valley Half Marathon in 2005. Finlayson set the Canadian M45-49 half-marathon record in August in Reykjavik, Iceland in a time of 1:09:18.
The women’s field is led by BC 1500-metre champion Sarah Inglis from Scotland, however, she is currently living in Langley. She owns a best of 1:14:51. Lisa Brooking and Nicole Roberts, both with a PB of 1:16, are second and third seeds. Inglis and Brooking were teammates at Trinity Western University.
Twenty-time Canadian champion in triathlon, road, cross-country and track racing and two-time world duathlon silver medallist Lucy Smith of Victoria is going for the Canadian record in the women’s 50-54 age-category in the half-marathon, which is approximately 1:22.
Smith, earlier this summer took the national record in the 5,000-metre distance event in the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Track Series.
“I am fit now and why not? I think I am in shape to better the record, now that I am 50,” said Smith. “I work with a lot of young girls who are in their young teens. This is a good time to demonstrate health and fitness in a race.”
The men’s 8K field is led by Patrick Cheptoek from Uganda (PB of 22:54), followed by Alex Cameron from Portland (PB 24:44) and local Victoria athlete Thomas Riva with a PB of 25:05. Riva won the Canadian 1500m championships in 2016, the year he graduated from the University of Victoria in Engineering.
Lindsay Carson, the 2016, 2015 and 2014 8K champion from Whitehorse, now residing in Burnaby, is returning to defend her 8K title. She won in 27:35 last year. She will be challenged by Kim Doerksen who won the 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon and has an 8K PB of 27:15 set in Victoria in 2014.
Justine Stecko, from Victoria, who was second last year, will also be in contention. Stecko trains with the Prairie Inn Harriers Youth Team PIHYT under the guidance of two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon. She is an Oak Bay High School student and one of the top junior runners in Canada.
University of Victoria alumn Rachel Francois, who is an 800-metre specialist, let organisers know that she would like to toe-the-line Thursday. She is a last-minute elite entry. Her best in the 800 is 2:02:18.
For the ninth year in a row, the event will host the BC Marathon Championships.
The total prize purse for the High-Performance Athlete Program in the Marathon and Half Marathon is $32,800, with $3,000 each going to the top male and female marathon runner, and a $4,000 bonus for a new men’s or women’s marathon course record. The Women’s record was set by Kenyan by Lucy Njeri in 2011 (2:37:56).
Natasha Wodak set the women’s half marathon record in 2012 (1:14:06). Wodak of Vancouver is a Rio Olympian and owns two Canadian records, the 10,000-metres at 31:41:59 and the 8K road race record of 25:28 from the Pioneer 8K that takes place in nearby Saanichton. Wodak was intending to race but has pulled out to focus her attention on cross-country this season.
The men’s half marathon record is held by Jon Brown (2002 – 1:02:32). Brown formerly of Great Britain owned the UK 10,000-metre record of 27:18.14 before Mo Farah bettered it. He finished fourth in the Olympics twice in the marathon and twice ran as fast as 2:09 – with a 2:09:31 best. He currently lives in Calgary and has coached runners and triathletes in Canada and New Zealand.
Twenty-time Canadian champion, Lucy Smith, will be seeking the Canadian half marathon record for the 50-54 age-group. She broke the Canadian 5,000-metre record in June during the Victoria Track Series with her 17:39.66 performance. The current record is 1:22:08 and is held by Diane Legare of Toronto. She set the record in 2013.
Gary Barber holds the men’s 8K Road Race course record (1989 – 23:23), and Ulla Hansen holds the women’s record (1991 – 26:24). Two age-group world records have also been set in Victoria – Gwen McFarlan in 2010 in the W75-79 (4:02:27); and Betty Jean McHugh in the W80-99 in 2008 (4:35:52).