Luc Bruchet in action at BC Cross Country Championships. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated

The Harrier’s Pioneer 8K road race taking place Sunday, Jan 8, in Victoria, BC will feature a few Rio Olympians including 5,000-metre specialist Luc Bruchet, as well as Chris Winter who specialises in the 3,000m steeplechase event. Both athletes are from Vancouver. Also in the race is Victoria’s Hilary Stellingwerff who competed in both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  Both Winter and Stellingwerff have since retired from the track, however, Stellingwerff remains very fit for road racing. Meanwhile Winter continues to run on a more casual basis, but should be a top finisher.

“My life has taken a different direction since I retired,” said Winter. “And I am now working for BC Athletics, but I am coming over because Rachel is racing (wife) and I am there to support her. I am racing too because I had a blast running it last year.”

Rachel Cliff ran under the Canadian Rio Olympic standard in the 5,000m distance, however, was not chosen to go to the Olympics. She ran 15:23.94 in an impromptu race in Vancouver. She needed to better 15:24.00. She was one of three Canadians to run faster than standard. Her exclusion along with a few others was the subject of controversy this past summer. Athletics Canada’s Head Coach Peter Eriksson has since been dismissed. Cliff should be considered the pre-race favourite.

Hilary Stellingwerff after winning GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon. Photo Credit: Christopher Kelsall

Former UVic Vike Geoff Martinson, who now resides in Vancouver, is racing. As a 1500m specialist he represented Canada at the 2011 Daegu IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

Martinson is a two-time winner of the event and has run as fast as 23:41 and 23:49 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Bruchet has run the 5,000m as fast as 13:24.10. If both Martinson and Bruchet are in good shape, the race should be exciting.

A pair of Vancouver athletes are improving quickly. Justin Kent may be a surprise contender for the win or a top-three placing, while Theo Hunt should run well.

The men’s event record is 22:58, which was run in 1985 by Carey Nelson. The fastest men’s time on the current course was set by three-time Olympian Jon Brown at 23:18 in 2003. Brown has run the marathon in 2:09 twice, while he held the British 10,000m record of 27:18.14 before Mo Farah broke it in 2011 with his 26:46.57 performance at Hayward Field.

The women’s record is held by Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak. During the 2013 edition she finished in the time of 25:28. It also stands as the national record.

Natasha Wodak after winning the 2015 Pioneer 8K

“I have opened up my racing season almost every year at the Pioneer 8K.  It’s an awesome race, with a fast course, good competition, and is well organized,” shared Wodak.  “Plus I’m a PIH member, so it’s fun to race my own club’s race.  I’m sad I won’t be this year, but know I’ll be back next year for sure!”

Wodak, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and owns the national 10,000m record at 31:41:59, is recovering from foot surgery.

Three of the faster master runners are two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon, past winner Jim Finlayson and former UVic Vike Craig Odermatt. “It’s early and I am coming off a longer than usual post-cross country season break. This race will be a good test to tell me where I am fitness-wise,” shared Odermatt. “This race will be a good stepping stone towards the First Half, 21.1K.”

The First Half 21.1K takes place Feb 5, in Vancouver.

Marilyn Arsenault of Victoria should win the masters race.

The Pioneer 8K is the first road race of the year in Canada and is the first race in both the Vancouver Island Race Series and the BC Super Series.


1 – Geoff Martinson (Vancouver)
2 – Lucas Bruchet (Vancouver)
3 – Justin Kent (Burnaby)
4 – Chris Winter (Vancouver)
5 – Theo Hunt (Vancouver)
6 – Jim Finlayson (Victoria) – Master
7 – Josh Kozelj  (Coquitlam) – Junior
8 – Matt Noseworthy (Victoria)
9 – Craig Odermatt (Victoria) – Master
10 – Bruce Deacon (Victoria) – Master


11 – Rachel Cliff (Vancouver)
12 – Hilary Stellingwerff (Victoria)
13 – Marilyn Arsenault (Victoria) – Master
14 – Jen Millar (Victoria)
15 – Laurel Booker (Victoria)
16 – Lindsey Chamberlain (Victoria)
17 – Olivia Willett (Coquitlam) – Junior
18 – Brittany Therrien (Halifax, NS)
19 – Binder Kelsall (Victoria) – Master
20 – Charlene Waldner (Victoria) – Master

Other competitive runners are Heather MacDonald, who is from Victoria and is coached by top-ranked master athlete Marilyn Arsenault. Nicki Haugan of Fort St. John is also in the race. McDonald and Haugan are two strong masters runners.

One of the top juniors will be Bailey Haugan from Fort St. John, while the Prairie Inn Harriers Youth Team will be out with some of the region’s top junior athletes.

The University of Victoria Vikes typically field a few athletes.

The race is open to all abilities. Day of race registration is available.


The following Pioneer prize money is available in 2017:

Open Men          Open Women   Master Men (40+)   Master Women (40+)

1st Place              $ 200                      $ 200                                      $ 75                                        $ 75

2nd Place             $ 100                      $ 100

3rd Place              $ 50                        $ 50

Men Women
Open Masters (40+) Open Masters (40+)
8K Road Race 25:00 27:00 28:00 30:00

Full details of the race are available here>>

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