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The sun greeted runners for the first in-person Times Colonist 10K in Victoria, BC after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was about expressing freedom that currently some people in the world are not able to enjoy at this time — civil unrest in Ethiopia and Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Sunday offered a rare TC10K where the headwind didn’t stymie a great rhythm between 5K and 8K along the scenic Dallas Road waterfront. The Vancouver Sun Run went off with over 18,000 athletes. Both races were smaller than usual, but, in fairness, the pandemic has not yet fully ebbed.

Men’s race

“It was a perfect day for racing. For once we didn’t have a headwind along Dallas Road,” said fifth-place finisher Nick Walker who clocked a 32:35.

The chatter amongst the runners during the warm-up was of perfect racing conditions. The prize purse at $10,000 had the sub-elite athletes wondering if it was an opportunity missed for some Vancouver-based runners taking in the deeper Vancouver Sun Run at the same time.

New Victorian, former Ethiopian, Teferi Kebede Balcha, now a 40-plus masters runner but also a 2:07 marathoner took off at the start, dropped the field early, and led from gun to tape. He clocked a 31:02 finish time and was able to triple dip on the money as the first overall, first master, and first Canadian. Balcha has immersed himself into the running community well as he trains with the Bruce Deacon and Gary Barber-led Prairie Inn Harriers training group. Both former winners of the event, once known as the Garden City 10K.

“Beautiful course, a very nice race and am happy with my result today,” said Balcha through an interpreter.

Finishing second was Jonathan Toombs, a former University of Victoria Vikes athlete. He finished in the time of 31:35 in his debut at the distance. Toombs raced the entire way with Jack Stanley who will be competing for McGill University starting in September. The 23-year-old Biochemistry Ph.D. candidate is a former Deacon-coached Harrier. He and Toombs raced back and forth, first in a pack with Nick Walker and Andrew Russell (4th, 31:52) then it was down to two after halfway. Toombs had a little extra kick at the end.