© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

The 37th running of the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Half Marathon took place Sunday under partially sunny skies and mild temperatures. The winners were David Jackson of Abbotsford, BC who finished in the time of 69:09, while second place finisher was Vancouver’s Kevin O’Connor who set an unofficial Canadian 45-49 age-group record by finishing in 69:12, just three seconds off from the overall win. Third place finisher was Bryan Andrews of North Vancouver who was over five minutes back. He finished in 1:14:20.

The women’s race was won by Kimberley Doerksen, who finished fifth overall and broke the course record. Doerksen is from Gibsons, BC, which is where the race starts from (it ends in Sechelt, 21.1 kilometres up the Coast Highway). Second place finisher was Ellie Greenwood of Vancouver; she finished in 1:17:42, while Vancouver’s Anne-Marie Madden who finished in 1:19:30. Doerksen told Athletics Illustrated, “Honestly today felt like one of those “everything fell into place” kind of days – the sun was shining, the spectators were cheering, my body felt good and I was at home on my old stomping grounds. It was like being back in my early training days on a course I would do long runs with my Dad every weekend. Going into it the thought of having a personal best and potentially breaking the course record were both in my head – but I had NO idea it would be a sub-75. I feel like I’m on cloud nine and my face hurts from smiling so much!”

Jackson and O’Connor built a very early lead on the rest of the field. They ran the first mile in 5:07, which is sub 67-minute pace. Their half-way split was 34:17. According to O’Connor, the second half of the race is faster than the first half by anywhere from 45 seconds to a minute.  At the 10k mark Jackson made a break; however, O’Connor covered it. At around the 15k to 16k area Jackson had a 10 second lead over O’Connor. The two ended up exchanging leads as O’Connor closed the gap on the downhill portions.  “I felt great, strong and never once eased up. It was a great battle throughout. That 31:11 Canadian age-group record might just be on in the Vancouver Sun Run,” shared O’Connor, who is looking to break the Canadian 10k 45-49 age-group record of 31:11.

In regards to his performance on the hilly course O’Connor said, “That was probably a better performance than my masters personal best where I ran 68.47 a few years ago at the age of 44 on the First Half Half Marathon in February.”

There were 505 finishers in the half-marathon, plus 39 teams in the relay event. The race starts in Gibsons, BC, passes through Roberts Creek and ends up on Sechelt. The course rolls throughout and provides an elevation drop of over 140 metres from start to finish. The course is point-to-point with very few turns.