Rob Watson in lead at 5K

Copyright – 2016 – Athletics Illustrated

The 2016 Prairie Inn Harriers Pioneer 8K – the 37th edition – took place today under near perfect race conditions, as clouds turned to sun and the temperatures rose to double digits. Five-hundred and 26 runners competed over the fast, but rolling course.

The winners were Rob Watson and Natasha Wodak, who crossed the line in 23:47 and 26:31, respectively.

Watson ran out front from the gun and created a lead that he did not relinquish throughout, but he had to run hard to earn the win. He was up against a strong field of international athletes. At the 2.5K mark at the bottom of the only significant hill, Watson tested the field and created a larger gap. “I wanted to push the effort on the hill as a little jab, to see if anyone was there to go with me and I gapped them pretty good,” shared Watson.

Asked if he was suffering a little during the final kilometre that gently rolls uphill he said, “Yeah, I was feeling it over the final K and was redlining it, but lucky enough I had put enough of a gap on them that they didn’t catch up to me.”

The second place finisher was Vancouver’s Chris Winter who crossed the line in the time of 23:55, he ran with a pack of three, which included Vancouver’s Dylan Wykes, Canada’s second fastest current marathon runner (2:10:47) and Brandon Lord who owns a 13:43 5,000-metre indoor best. Lord competed for the University of Georgia for his undergrad and is now enrolled at the University of Virginia in the NCAA.

Natasha Wodak in lead near 5K

Winter, one of Canada’s top 3,000-metre steeplechasers has a strong kick. Watson wasn’t going to leave anything to chance and his tactics seemed to work. The performance bodes well as he will be racing the 2016 Houston Half Marathon next Sunday.

Lord finished third in 23:56, while Wykes finished fourth in 24:12 in his first race effort in some time. He is looking to compete in a spring marathon.

Wodak, who holds the course and Canadian record for 8K at 25:28, was running hard, but was not looking to compete with her own record, as she has two indoor races next week at the University of Washington. She will be racing both the mile (1609m) and the 3,000-metre distances, four hours apart, then a half marathon in Japan the following week.

Second to Wodak was training partner Rachel Cliff who finished in the time of 27:10.

The masters winner was Vancouver’s Kevin O’Connor who finished seventh overall in the time of 25:43. O’Connor, now 49 years of age will look to take the Canadian 45-49 age-group half marathon record in February at the First Half – Half Marathon in Vancouver. He expects to run approximately 1:10:00.

Craig Odermatt was second in the time of 26:15; he was followed in by Shane Ruljancich, who finished in 26:36. Odermatt and Ruljancich as well as Wodak run for the host Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club.

The top masters women were Victoria’s Lucy Smith and Marilyn Arsenault, they finished in 28:27 and 29:05, respectively. The third place master finisher was Nancy Baxendale from Shawnigan Lake, who won the 55-59 age-category in the time of 32:04. Smith also earned bronze in the open category. Smith is a 19-time Canadian champion, while Arsenault owns two Canadian age-group 10,000-metre records. Smith and Baxendale are also Harrier club members.

Jack Stanley, Tyler Dozzi and Liam Stanley were the top three junior finishers. They were competing in the 16-19 age-group. The three crossed the line in 26:51, 27:31 and 28:40, respectively, all three run for the Bruce Deacon-coached Prairie Inn Harriers Youth Team who will be travelling shortly to New York to run at the Armory’s indoor track.

The top junior women were Amy Morris, who crossed the line in 31:18, Olivia Willett 31:19 and Bridget Cameron who finished in 37:30.

Full results are available at www.racestats.org.