© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

University of British Columbia Thunderbird athlete Jonah Brost took in a 10-mile mountain race on Sunday to aid in his comeback to fitness. He finished second. Meanwhile, back to Victoria is Patricia Roney, who won the women’s race.

Men’s race

On Sunday, December 10, the Vancouver Island native ran a local race called the Stewart Mountain 10 Mile, a race put on by the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club. Brost led from the gun, but the hyper-technical portion of the race favoured local master Andrew Russell age 41. Russell is known as a strong ultra and trail runner and former national-level triathlete. 

Andrew Russell for the open win and masters win. Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri.

Russell, with the host club, was patient on the out portion of the race and some of the climbs, knowing that the race becomes especially technical on the downhill sections. Recent heavy rain has made the course more treacherous than usual. Loaded with roots, rocks, bedrock, corners, long cold puddles and steep sections, the rains have made the course especially slippery in Thetis Lake Park. 

Russell won, and Brost, a former Harrier, with the junior club, finished second. Taking third overall was Tyler Trace. The three finished in the times of 1:10:17, 1:11:14 and 1:12:35, respectively. 

“I would say, I am pretty happy with how it went overall. I thought the course was excellent, I love Thetis Lake and its trails,” shared the 22-year-old Brost. “I used to race some of the Thetis Lake trail series each year back when I was in high school, so I enjoyed the race, it brought me back to my high school running days.

The race went well for me, I did a good job pacing myself and I put in a solid effort. I also think I did a good job of trying to embrace the challenges of the course such as the elevation, terrain, and puddles. I felt pretty good throughout the race (besides the part where I had to go up the mountain, which was brutal). Perhaps the only thing I would change is I felt like I might have been able to race a little more aggressively, especially on the faster stretches of trail.”  

Recently, Brost ran into a health issue, likely due to a vitamin B deficiency. Once diagnosed, his fitness returned quickly. Perhaps he is not fully back to his former self but looked competitive in the 10-mile race. 

Jonah Brost takes the early lead over the only asphalt portion of the race (the start). Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri.

“I am not sure if that (vit. B deficiency) was the entire problem. The doctors I was working with believed there was probably something more going on that we never quite figured out. So, a B deficiency is likely only a piece of the problem. Furthermore, the issue with it was not the distance I could run, it was the pace. I could still run good weekly mileage, but I could not sustain any fast paces making it impossible to have any good races or even workouts. I am mostly over this from what I can tell, but I am still in the process of building back my fitness after having gone so long without being able to train properly,” added Brost in an email exchange after the race. 

Brost continues to compete for the Thunderbirds, who recently swept the national U Sports cross-country championships. 

Women’s race

In the women’s race, it was Patricia Roney for the win. Roney returned to Victoria after a spell in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The physiotherapist, who has helped Team Canada at major events had a home course advantage, as the Thetis Lake area is a common training space for her.

She won in the time of 1:18:07 to finish 10th overall. Taking second was Julia Tschanz, a former University of Victoria Vike athlete. Tschanz finished in 16th overall, second female in the time of 1:23:03. Taking third was Elora Van Jarrett in 1:24:31.

Patricia Roney for the win. Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri.

Tschanz won the Gunner Shaw 10K Cross Country Classic two weeks prior at the same venue. The 10K is part of a three-race series at the park put on by the Harriers. The first one to go each year happens on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11 and is called the Thetis Lake Relays. The relays offer teams of four athletes to compete in the near 20K race. Often athletes will race solo or double down and go in teams of two.

All three events are tough, hilly, and often muddy, character-building trail races.

For 2023, it was the 20th anniversary of the Stewart Mountain race, which includes a 5-mile option. 

The 5-mile winners were Harrier Shane Ruljancich age 47 in 38:51 and 19-year-old Ruby Nicholas who clocked a 40:28 finish time. 

Like Roney, Ruljancich also has home course advantage, often training in the same park, and it was needed as right on his tail was 12-year Coen Holmgren clocking the same time of 38:51. Just two-tenths of a second separated the two. Holmgren runs for Peninsula Track and Field, coached by his father Aaron Holmgren who is just two weeks removed from finishing second overall at the Canadian Cross Country Championships and second master. The senior Holmgren finished fifth overall and third master.