© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

Six days after Victoria’s Geoff Martinson stepped off the plane in Sidney, BC, (feeling completely under the weather) to win a come-from-behind five-kilometre race in 14 minutes and 32 seconds against second and third place finishers Ryan Brockerville of Vancouver and Clifford Childs of Victoria, he flew to Vancouver to pull off the trick again. This time he did so at the popular St. Patrick’s Day 5k, which is also the BC Road 5k Championships, race number three of the Lower Mainland Race Series as well as race number six of the Timex BC Road Race Series. He raced almost the same group however, this time he wasn’t feeling sick as a dog. Martinson won in 14:37.88 to Child’s 14:42.58. Third went to Nanaimo’s Forrest Simpson who finished in 14:47.65. “I was definitely feeling better this time around,” said Martinson.

Sunday, March 10th, Martinson arrived at the Sidney race fresh from watching the CIS indoor championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He showed great character in defending his title from 2012, where he set the course record of 14:20. During the 2013 edition, he bided his time behind Childs and Brockerville to win, as the two capped an entertaining race with a head-to-head sprint over the final 100m. Martinson won by two-tenths of a second. Childs had led that race for nearly three kilometres before relinquishing the lead to Brockerville – temporarily fighting for the lead again after three kilometres, then relinquishing it for good before finishing a respectable third overall in 14:40.

On Saturday, March 16th, in Vancouver, Brockerville finished fifth, but not out of the picture as he crossed the line with a respectable 14:49.33. Brockerville was in third place through the first mile (a prize bonus was offered for first through the mile) behind Mike Sayenko of Bellevue, Washington and Patrick Psotka of Victoria, who both passed through in 4:37.12. The two, one-mile combatants finished the race in 15:00.65 and 15:04.05, respectively; it cost them.

Meanwhile, Brockerville’s early effort may have also cost him in the end as Childs and Martinson both let the first-mile challenge pass conservatively to save oxygen for the full five-kilometre race. They completed the first mile together in the same time of 4:39.12; not a bad move for Childs who, this time, clearly beat Brockerville to finish second overall. After the St. Patrick’s Day race Childs said, “My strategy was to sit with the leaders as long as I could. I went there to run a fast 5km and I felt that by going for the mile win, I would not be able to do that.” Where Brockerville said, “The race this weekend again had a great field toeing the line, we went out at a ridiculous pace: I had 2:50 for the first kilometre on my wrist. It didn’t really slow much leading into the mile, a couple of guys basically sprinted it out for the mile win. All in all, it was a good race with a stacked field. Hats off to all organizers and competitors, I will be back next year!”

Martinson said, “There was a first-mile bonus that a couple of guys went after. I chose to maintain my pace knowing that the win and possibly the record would be more rewarding.”

The Women

“I found the course a bit challenging with a few sharp turns and a tough hill at the end.  The atmosphere at the race was great! I enjoyed the enthusiasm from the other runners,” said Sabrina Wilkie, from Vancouver who runs for Point Grey Track and Field Club. She won the women’s race in 17:07.14. She also won the mile event in 5:14.62. Second overall went to Erin Burrett, of Nanaimo, BC in 17:14.77 and third to the first (40-plus) women’s master, Catherine Watkins, who finished in 17:15.09. Burrett passed through the mile in 5:20.37, patiently behind Watkins (5:19.89) – like Childs’ effort, that patience proved to be a smart move as Burrett eventually prevailed over Watkins.

“I was somewhat unchallenged for the mile. I went out a bit harder than I intended, but with a downhill first kilometre I guess that’s to be expected, offered Wilkie. “My main goal was to win the race, so I didn’t want to dig myself into a hole by going out too fast.  It wasn’t until I was a few meters from the mile marker that it occurred to me I was going to win it.”

Wilkie finished second the week before in Sidney, while Burrett was fourth. “The Synergy race in Sidney is a little faster, but they have improved the course so much at St. Patrick’s Day 5k,” said Burrett. “I don’t know if I was tactical against Watkins, we were after pretty much the same goal, although I was still behind her with ten metres to go.”

The Masters

The second female master was Tracy Wakaluk in 18:37.52 and third to Juliette Christie in 19:03.91 who also won the 50-54 division.

The men’s master field was won by Kevin O’Connor of Vancouver, who competes in the 45-49 age-group. He won in 15:32.66. Second, went to 50-year-old Mark Bennett in 16:34.66 and third to Andrew Tuovinen with his finishing time of 16:54.29. O’Connor smashed the provincial 45-49 age-group record the previous week in Sidney with his finishing time of 15:15. The previous record was 15:32, the same time he ran on St. Patrick’s Day.

The St. Patrick’s Day 5k course

The St. Patrick’s Day 5k course was improved for 2013. Race Director Steve Mattina said, “We cater to the elite and really try to make this a fun event for the top athletes.” The athletes noticed the course improvement. Childs said, “The course was great. The first kilometre was straight downhill then it went along the seawall for over three kilometres and finished with a 500m climb. It was a lot of fun.” Burrett basically said the same thing, “The course was much improved from last year. The first kilometre was mostly downhill, which suited those who can run downhill fast. At approximately two-and-a-half kilometres, it went up off the seawall. Overall it is improved greatly from last year. Martinson agreed, “The course was scenic and I loved running along the seawall. Although it wasn’t as fast as Bazan Bay, which is flat and out-and-back, the course was a lot of fun.” And his stomach held together, throughout!

“We had a great day at our event. For the third straight year, we sold out at 2000 runners. We plan to build on this with maybe top-three at the mile getting dollars next year (rather than just one),” shared Mattina.

There were nine finishers under 15:00, 27 under 16:00 and 40 under 17:00.