© Copyright – 2024 – Athletics Illustrated

Repentigny, Quebec’s Thomas Fafard (28:45) and Vancouver’s Glynis Sim (32:17) won the 2024 Vancouver Sun Run in new personal best times in front of a crowd of 35,169 runners and walkers.

Over 45,000 registered for the event, the most in over a decade, demonstrating a strong recovery from the down years of COVID-19. Mayor Ken Sims was pleased with the turnout although he is injured and could not run. He did, however, help start the race over the PA system.

Citing all that was going on in the city over the weekend he said, “It’s great for the city, especially considering we are still in the shoulder season. I just wish I could run.” And yes he was cheering for the Vancouver Canucks to win Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs at home at Roger’s Arena, across the street from the finish venue, BC Place Stadium.

The men’s race

The odds on an athlete named Tom taking the win would have been interesting for the oddsmakers as four of the top five finishers were indeed named Tom or Thomas. Interrupting the flow of Toms was a Seattle-based runner named Turner.

The Toms ran a very fast first kilometre given the large downhill start. If there was a timing mat at km 1, it may have shown sub-2:30.

Thomas Fafard, Thomas Broatch, Thomas Nobbs and Tom Anderson of Great Britain as well as Turner Wiley of Seattle formed a lead pack after the first km. They worked together with Christian Gravel, Simon Bérubé and Chris Taylor. The course settles and becomes gently rolling for 9km. For anyone wishing to run a fast time, it all comes from the first km, then executing the bridges (Burrard and Cambie) and the turns well.

Thomas Fafard for the win. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated. The finish of the Sun Run changed direction for 2024 as the rock band Nickleback needed access to BC Place Stadium, therefore the background is devoid of the usual large crowds and the sun shining from behind the runners.

At 8.5km Fafard, who was drafting others with near-perfect execution, dropped the hammer and took the lead. His kick scrambled the pack to make for a long, single-file finish. Fafard finished with a new personal best time of 28:45.

“After running a new 10,000m best in March, this race confirms that my fitness is strong now,” shared the 25-year-old. “I will be heading back to Flagstaff, AZ for another training block, but I am happy with today’s race.”

Fafard ran 28:39.29 in March at the Sound Running meet “The Ten,” which was a new personal best. His previous personal best on the road was 29:43.

Vancouver’s Broatch took second place in 28:56. He will be competing in the Copenhagen Marathon in two weeks. The 25-year-old ran 2:11:51 in Houston in January and will be looking to improve upon that time. Athletics Canada has a deadline in place for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games marathon standard which is Sunday, May 5, the day of the Copenhagen race. Leaving it to the last minute is surely one way to put pressure on oneself. Broatch will have to run faster than 2:08:10 and or end up ranked top 80 globally.

Taking third was Turner Wiley of Seattle who clocked 29:00. In two weeks he will be running the Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, WA with 70,000 others. “It was good to get in a strong performance here after running the US Olympic Trials in Florida. The Trials offered a beautiful course, but it was run mid-day and in the heat. I am looking forward to Bloomsday,” shared Wiley.

In 2018 he ran 30:15 in the Sun Run. Wiley’s personal best over 10,000m is 28:40.15. At the Orlando Marathon Trials in Feb., he clocked a 2:16:42 performance. Wiley’s marathon personal best is 2:11:59 from Chicago in 2022.

The women’s race

Vancouver’s Glynis Sim ran a big new personal best for the win. She is experiencing the best season of her athletic career. The 26-year-old won the BC 10K Championships in Cobble Hill, BC on Vancouver Island in January. She followed up that performance with a BC 5K Championship in Vancouver in March. The UBC Thunderbird alumnus then competed in the Belgrade World Cross Country Championships and is now the 2024 Sun Run champion. Sim finished in the time of 32:17. It is a personal best by 1:06.

“I’m surprised with how fast I ran,” said Sim.

Glynis Sim for the win in 32:17. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

The women were in close proximity to each other for at least the first half. Vancouver’s Leslie Sexton, often a training partner of Sim’s, held the lead for much of the race. And in a similar fashion to the men’s race, Sim picked Sexton off with approximately 1km to go and put in a kick for the win.

“In one way, I feel bad about that, as we train together, but I am happy to be running well and to take the win,” shared Sim.

For Sexton, the race was run one week before she will take a near-11th-hour attempt to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in the marathon. She flew out of Vancouver Sunday night for Hamburg, to join Vancouver’s Ben Preisner, Natasha Wodak and Dayna Pidhoresky seeking a sub-2:26:50. Preisner will need to run sub-2:08:10. It’s the defacto Canadian Olympic Marathon Trials. Already named to the team are Cameron Levins, Malindi Elmore and Rory Linkletter.

“People questioned my decision to run the Sun Run one week before Hamburg, but how could I resist this race,” shared Sexton.

Taking third was Andrea Seccafien. She finished in the time of 33:02, while Sexton had clocked a 32:25. For Seccafien, the race put a cork on her season. It is time to go back to school.

The Guelph, ON native now lives in Melbourne, VIC. She is the Canadian 10,000m and half-marathon record holder having run 31:13.94 and 1:09:38 to take two of Wodak’s former national records. Seccafien has been injured off and on for two years and has struggled to regain the form she displayed in 2020 and 2021. But it is not over.

The 33-year-old packed in a rush weekend having raced the Sun Run and then headed to the Vancouver airport to fly back to Melbourne to start orientation on Monday for law school, which she begins this week.

“An athletics career can be short, so I need to have a career as well and it is time, but I am not done with running yet,” shared Seccafien, who will likely seek a career in corporate law.

In March, she attempted the Olympic standard in the Tokyo Marathon but retired before halfway. It was her debut and a lot to ask of herself having gradually worked her way back into race fitness.

Other performances

Sixteen-year-old Ben Smith was seen celebrating at the finish line. The teen clocked a 32:49 performance to finish second in his age group (16-18) behind 18-year-old triathlete James Sikich who clocked a 32:41 performance. Lucien Dixon-Lawless finished third in the age group clocking a 33:12 time. Like the “Sun Run,” the future looks bright for Vancouver running.

Long-time competitive runner Ryan Hayden hit the masters (40-plus) podium with a terrific performance clocking a 31:21 finish time. His best from the Sun Run is from 2007 when he ran 29:24. His primary event was in the 1500m metric mile. Hayden ran as fast as 3:39.78 back in 2004.

Canadian Olympian Lucas Bruchet, now a teacher, remains fit. He finished in the time of 30:41 for 18th overall. Geoff Martinson, Rob Watson, Rachel Cliff and Chris Winter who competed for Canada were seen running the event. Cliff had heel surgery and is gradually making her way back to fitness. She is also mom to a young daughter, who was out to cheer on Mom and Dad (Chris Winter).

“The heel felt pretty good today, but I could feel it at about halfway, but I am happy with the progress,” shared Cliff.

Some of the top runners will be competing in the TC10K on Sunday, April 28 in Victoria, BC like Eriko Soma of Vancouver who won the women’s 40-plus competition finishing in 34:59.

Ken and Barbie. Photo credit: Mary Hinze.

Among the 35,000-plus starters, thousands of volunteers, media, sponsors and spectators, several costumed runners were seen at the race including a hilarious send-up to the Barbie and Ken craze, who ran the race in full regalia.

Doug and Diane Clement who created the Vancouver Sun Run and the Harry Jerome Track Classic took in the race. Diane was sporting a 2014 Sun Run shirt and a jacket from the 30th anniversary. Doug Clement is a young 90, but you would never know it by looking at him.

“It’s a great day, and it is wonderful to see so many people taking in the race again,” he shared.

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