Geoff Martinson








© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

Defending champions Natasha Wodak of Vancouver and Geoff Martinson of Victoria, BC will toe-the-line to lead another competitive field Sunday, January 12th at the Harrier’s Pioneer 8k race in Saanichton, BC.

Wodak is the Canadian record holder in the 8 kilometre distance, which she set at the 2013 edition of the race. She surprised the finish line crowd by coming in sixth overall in the record time of 25 minutes and 28 seconds. This was the first race of an incredible year for Fraser who went on to represent Canada several times, primarily in cross-country, including the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. After the 2013 race she said, “I even surprised myself. I looked at my split at 5k and swore out loud, I was way faster than I expected.” The record was previously held by Victoria’s Debbie Scott (Bowker) who ran 26:08 on a different, but slightly faster course in 1986. Scott’s career spanned over 20 years. In total she won 26 Canadian titles, set Canadian records over a range of five distances. She competed in three Summer Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games, one Pan-American Games and two IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

The women’s field is complemented by Wodak’s British Columbia Endurance Project (BCEP) teammates, Sabrina Wilkie and Dayna Pidhoresky, as well as Nanaimo’s Erin Burrett, who also had a very strong 2013. “My goal is definitely sub-28 minutes. I haven’t raced an 8km since Pioneer last year where I ran 28:46, I believe, so I should beat that,” said the 32-year-old. Lucy Smith is the top-seeded master and should also finish in the women’s top-five.

Martinson is a former middle-distance runner who came to prominence locally while competing for the University of Victoria Vikes, before representing Canada at the 2011 IAAF World Track and Field Championships. Martinson also won the Frontrunners Island Race Series in 2013. Martinson said, “My goal is to run sub-24 minutes, but I hear there will be some great competition at the race, so I expect it will be a tough run out there.” Martinson won in 23:49 over Joseph Grey of Washington State in 2013. The course record is held by Carey Nelson who won it in the time of 22:58 in 1985. Nelson competed for Canada in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games.

Other top competitors in the men’s field are Vancouver’s Rob Watson – Canada’s fourth fastest marathon runner as well as Kevin Friesen. Jim Finlayson of Victoria is the top-ranked master and a former Pioneer race winner, two time IAAF World Cross Country Championships competitor and two-time Canadian marathon champion.

The Harrier’s Pioneer 8k is the first of eight races that make up the island series, as well as the first race of the BC Timex Race Series. There are 15 events in the BC Timex Race Series, three of which are included in both series, Harrier’s Pioneer 8k, Synergy Health Bazan Bay 5k and the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon.