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Two-time Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff of Victoria, BC will take the first step in her post middle-distance career to racing on the roads over distances between 5K and the 21.1K half marathon Sunday, Jan 8 when she takes in the 38th annual Harriers Pioneer 8K.
Stellingwerff competed in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 1500-metre distance. Although she had dabbled in road racing in the past, she is now running the highest mileage in four years, so that she can perform well Sunday as well as in Vancouver’s First Half 21.1K on Feb 5.
Stellingwerff told Athletics Illustrated, “I’m looking forward to jumping in a road race and running as hard as I can.”
Stellingwerff has run the Bazan Bay 5K as part of the Vancouver Island Race Series and the BC Super Series. She has also raced the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon. She broke the course record in her first try.
Asked about her expectations for Sunday, she said, “It will be my first race since the Olympics and I’m honestly not sure what to expect. Training has been going well; I’m doing more mileage than I have in about four years because I’m planning on running the First Half in Vancouver next month.”
The 35-year-old mother of son Theo is also a coach with the University of Victoria Vikes and is married to top physiologist Trent Stellingwerff, who helped guide her training in partnership with Coach Dave Scott-Thomas of Guelph, Ontario at the University of Guelph and Speed River Track and Field Club.
Sunday will feature at least one athlete who Stellingwerff will have a tough time beating as Rachel Cliff from Vancouver will be toeing-the-line too. While Stellingwerff is fast, Cliff specialises in the 5,000-metre and 10,000-metre distances. The 8K road race may be more in her realm. Cliff did run fast enough time-wise to make the Olympic team running 15:23.94 for the 5,000-metre distance, but was not picked to be a part of Team Canada going to Rio.
But there should be no underestimating Stellingwerff’s training regimen and speed if the two are together with one kilometre to go.
“Sunday should be a good rust buster to remind me what racing a longer distance feels like!”
The Race will also feature other top-level talent including Rio Olympians Chris Winter and Luc Bruchet as well as 2011 Daegu IAAF World Track and Field Championships competitor and two-time Pioneer 8K winner Geoff Martinson.
The Harrier’s Pioneer 8K is the first road race of the year in Canada and is the first race in both the Vancouver Island Race Series and the BC Super Series.