© Copyright – 2021 – Athletics Illustrated
In Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island, a three-race trail series takes place at Thetis Lake Park, which includes the Thetis Lake Relays, Gunner Shaw 10K Cross Country Classic, and the Harriers Stewart Mountain Challenge. Stewart Mountain includes a 10 mile and a non-mountain ascending 5-mile offering.
Runners leave the main beach at Thetis Lake and head into the moss-coated woods where they traverse single track and tertiary trails that offer plenty of mud, exposed tree roots, rocks of all sizes, thigh-deep puddles, and slippery bedrock. Sunday, runners were greeted with near-freezing temperatures and sunny skies; it was a welcome reprieve from the incessant rains that have flooded the trails.
The course is challenging enough-so that the approximate 16K distance takes about the same amount of time to run as the 21.1K half-marathon distance.
In the men’s race, it was Tyler Trace for the win in the time 70:10.50. Bryce Molder finished second in the time of 70:10.90. They raced neck and neck throughout and finished on the sandy beach in a hard sprint.
Aaron Holmgren — the pre-race favourite — who owns the 5-mile course record at 31:44 took third after experiencing an ankle twist early on. He persevered and clocked a time of 73:38.15. The 39-year-old won the masters division (35-plus) at the national cross country championships in Ottawa, ON the week prior.
“I haven’t raced that long before,” shared Holmgren. “I twisted my ankle outward at about the 5K mark, so I ended up running a little slower than expected.”
The top master (40-plus) was two-time winner Shane Ruljancich of the host Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club. He finished in the time of 75:31.00.
Sixty-four hardy individuals completed the men’s race.
Lindsay Cristante won the women’s race in the time of 1:20:41.30. Carley Gering and Gillian Carleton finished second and third in the time of 1:27:04 and 1:30:15.20, respectively. The top master was Holland Gidney at 1:32:48.70.
Fifty-three women started and finished the 10-mile race, which included two-time World Ironman Champion Lori (nee Bowden) Chestnut.
In the 10-mile race, the age spread was from 12 to 64. Simon Smallacombe finished a few spots head of 64 year old Rob Hare, both (as most runners) laughing at the diabolical course that they had to traverse.
Kate Haber won the women’s 5-mile race in the time of 44:46.30, while Patrick Montgomery took the men’s 5-mile race in the time of 41:09.90. Race director, 64-year-old Gary Duncan, took second in the time of 42:19.20. Michelle Peters of the CEEVACS running club, age 58, was the first masters age runner clocking 52:55.80 for third overall.
It was the 17th running of the Stewart Mountain 10-mile Challenge. The previous year was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Results are available here>>