Dayna Pidhoresky after winning her second consecutive TC10K in Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall.

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon taking place on Sunday, June 24, will feature at least three fast women who should make for an exciting race.

Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky, Cold Lake, AB’s Emily Setlack and Toronto’s Sasha Gollish will be toeing the line. All three are very experienced, top-level competitors.

Pidhoresky had a very strong spring with a win at the historic Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, ON, becoming the first woman to win the event four times. She also ran a new personal best on the roads with a 10K win at the TC10K in Victoria in April, finishing in the time of 33:20. It was her second consecutive win in Victoria. She most recently ran the Canada Run Series 10K in Toronto, finishing in what she referred as a race where she, “left it all out there,” but crossed the line in fourth place in the time of 33:39. She will be seeking a better outcome on Sunday.

It’s been a long time, but Pidhoresky has run the half-marathon distance as fast as 1:11:46 from 2011 in Niagara, ON. At the time, it was the second fastest half-marathon performance for a Canadian. Her most recent half-marathon best is a 1:12:46 from her race in Indianapolis, one week after her 2018 TC10K win. Her 33:20 and 1:12:46, according to the IAAF scoring tables, suggest fairly comparable performances. Scotiabank Vancouver, with its point-to-point course and long flat and downhill sections may contribute to Pidhoresky running another fast time, perhaps under 1:12:46.

“This is the last race of the season for me,” said Pidhoresky. “If I feel good, I’d like to run a fast time. If I don’t feel peppy, I’ll work hard to fight for the win. I am a good downhill runner, but that might make me dread the up-hills, more. Either way, I am going to use this race as another chance to practice focus – especially during the latter stages of the race. The aim is to work hard right to the finish.”

Emily Setlack (L) and Natasha Wodak (R) at 2018 Vancouver Sun Run. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall.

Setlack is coming off of a win at the national Mountain Running Championships, which qualifies her for the IAAF World Mountain Running Championships taking place in Andorra, a tiny principality between France and Spain known for mountain biking and skiing. At nationals, she finished in the time of 1:16:49.7, which doesn’t indicate much due to the straight up 10-to-11K course that competitors raced, going up Kicking Horse Pass with over 3,000-metres of elevation gain, however, she did finish over two minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, Emma Cook-Clarke (1:19:16.4). The third place finisher was Karissa LePage recording a 1:24:08.5.

This is a strong performance for an athlete that regularly trains on the flat prairie. Setlack had a rough go at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, so the mountain race was a bounce back. Her best performance at the half-marathon distance took place in 2017, where she ran 1:13:28 at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on May 7th.

Sasha Gollish at 2016 Victoria Track Classic.

Gollish is coming off a 1:11:52 performance at the Valencia event, which is her personal best at the distance. She has shown range as she has run as fast as 4:07.08 in the 1500-metre event as well as 15:24.12 in the 5,000-metres, which matches her half-marathon performance in Valencia at age 36.

“Sunday’s half-marathon is just meant to be a feel good race; to run at marathon pace, attempt to feel great through the half and finish strong,” shared Gollish.

SHOESTRINGS: Natasha Wodak was initially expected to race, however, she is not, and instead she will be competing in the 1500-metre event at the Harry Jerome Track Classic. Apparently, Wodak has been running workouts that should see her run 4:10 +/- which is very strong for a distance runner in her mid-30s. She currently owns two Canadian records, one in the 8K on the roads from 2013 in Victoria, which she ran in 25:28 and her 10,000-metre best which she ran at Palo Alto in the Payton Jordan Invitational two years later in 31:41.59. Her best recent performance was an outstanding showing at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 10,000-metres, where she finished close to a medal for fifth in a near personal best time.

Lethbridge, AB’s Kip Kangogo, at age 40, will toe-the-line. He may be the favourite in the men’s division.