Ironman athletes dominate 2020 Hatley Castle 8K

The Hatley Castle 8K is one of eight road races in the Vancouver Island Race Series. It is the only one that includes off-road running (for half off it) and includes two large hills. The challenging course is a favourite due to the stunning Hatley Castle property (and Castle) and the views of Esquimalt Lagoon, Juan de Fuca Straight and the Olympic Mountain range.

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Dusty Spiller winning 2020 Hatley Castle 8K. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

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The cool-down discussion among the faster and more serious runners at the local 8K road race (that may have included gravel) is not “why did you let the Ironman athlete beat you?” but rather, “why did you finish behind three of them?”

At the Hatley Castle 8K in Colwood, BC – just outside of Victoria – Ironman athlete Dusty Spiller took the lead at 3K – at the top of a steep hill – and never looked back.

“And at about 4K, he really put a gap on us, especially once we went up the second hill and then off-road,” said Ian Searle, who finished in second place in the time of 27:16. Searle, sponsored by Athletics Illustrated for the Island Race Series competes for the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club. He is a former University of Victoria Vike-turned marathon runner. However, this spring he will be working on his road 10K and track 5,000-metre personal bests.

“I am feeling better after this race than I did during the first few in the series,” added Searle. “The fitness is coming.”

Spiller, a Cowichan Valley Run Club member, started competing in Ironman events at the age of 18. Now at 31, he is experienced but is back after a two-year break to start a family.

Asked about the race he said, “I started in the back of the lead pack and stayed there until the big hill at 3K, where I moved to the front. I felt good and thought that I have a chance to take this, so I went for it.”

He grew the gap by 13 seconds over the second half of the race. He finished at the time of 27:03.

The third-place finisher was Nicholas Lightbody who crossed the final timing mat in 27:20. He is also an Ironman athlete and was representing Human Powered Racing.

The first master was Prairie Inn Harrier Shane Ruljancich with a 28:39 finish time – about a minute off of his course pb.

With a shrug, he said, “faster than last year, so I am good with that.”

He nearly caught series-sponsored Athletics Illustrated athlete Sean Chester, who finished just three seconds in front of him. Chester, working his way back into shape owns a 31:11 10,000m best.

Julia Tschanz on her way to the win at the 2020 Hatley Castle 8K. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Defending champ, Julia Tschanz won by over a minute. She was followed in by Nanaimo’s Melissa Ross. They finished at 30:26 and 31:35 on the clock, respectively, while Catrin Jones, the first master finished third in 32:00.

“I am kicking myself a little now, as I may have started a little too easy. I think I may have underestimated myself,” said Tschanz.

Forgetting the length of the downhill start and anticipating the big uphills at 3K and 4K, she perhaps started easier than she may have otherwise done. With plenty left in the tank, the former Vike ran a big negative split for the convincing win.

Jones is a past winner and a 50K specialist. She will be racing in the 2020 Chuckanut 50K this spring.

SHOESTRINGS: Robert Johnson, who finished sixth overall in the time of 28:07, is technically not an Ironman, he competes in Olympic distance and 70.3 events.

Liam Stanley, Rio Paralympic silver medallist was in the race, sporting the Prairie Inn Harriers singlet. He finished ninth overall in the time of 28:40. Stanley is coached by two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon, General Manager of the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup and Can Am Masters Chup taking place Saturday, Feb. 29 at neighbouring Langford, at the Bear Mountain Golf Resort.

Deacon was on site handing out swag for the event.

Bruce Deacon, showing off flashing race bibs for 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated.

More on the series can be found here>>

Full results available here>>