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The Royal Victoria Marathon has seen a second straight year of an increase in registrations for the marathon, half-marathon, 8K and kid’s 1K run. There is great uptake in the new 5K. Leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic and during, registrations were soft — 2023 will be the biggest in many years. All races take place on Sunday, October 8, except for the inaugural 5K happening in neighbouring Oak Bay on Saturday. The 5K has had 573 people register with five days remaining.

Marathon and half-marathon

The flagship marathon has topped out at 1865 participants, led by a handful of Kenyans and locals in the elite category. The men’s record of 2:13:42 from 2013 when Kenyan Lamech Mokono won, may be under threat. Kenyan Josphat Kipkoech, who has run 2:13:58 in Nairobi, is looking to set the new record. Nairobi sits at 6,000 feet of elevation — Victoria on Vancouver Island sits at sea level.

The half-marathon hit capacity at 3834 registrants two weeks in advance. The buzz around the half marathon is in the men’s field as the two top-seeded athletes may break Jon Brown’s course record of 1:02:32 from 2002. Canadian half-marathon record holder Cameron Levins is running and is expected to improve Brown’s time. Levins’ best is 1:00:18. Levins also holds the North American record in the marathon at 2:05:36, both achieved during 2023. The Vancouver Island native, now living in Portland, Oregon is gearing up for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5.

Calgarian, now living in Kelowna, Trevor Hofbauer, is looking to improve on his own half-marathon best of 1:04:30, which doesn’t quite match up to his marathon best of 2:09:51. Hofbauer and Levins are the only two Canadians to run the marathon under 2:10. Behind them will be approximately 20 athletes seeking a 1:10 or better time. It is the deepest field that the half marathon has had. Part of that is due to the Canadian Masters Association national masters championships happening within the race. The marathon is the provincial marathon championship.

The women’s marathon top seed is Emmy Chepkoech Kiprotich from Kenya who has run 2:40 in Nairobi, this year. But closely challenging will be two local masters Catrin Jones, a previous winner and Care Nelson who will be debuting in the event. Jones is a 50K specialist and has set national 50K records. Nelson has been competitive on the roads and trails over the years. Both acquitted themselves well in the 2023 NACAC Mountain and Trail Running Championships.

8K and 5K

The 8K event has 1877 registrants. The men’s field is currently led by Ethiopian Daniel Mulushet Zewdu, who now calls Victoria home. He is expected to break the 24-minute benchmark. The women’s field is led by a special Canadian athlete who is quietly running the event to do an early off-season test of her fitness as she is coming off a long-term injury. She has no expectations, however, should win and run in the 26-minute range.

The 5K will feature several athletes from the University of Victoria Vikes, who head coach Hilary Stellingwerff says is one of the strongest teams in years. However, some of the top athletes will be competing away from Victoria in a cross-country meet. Two Paralympians, Michael Barber and Liam Stanley front the men’s field. Stanley earned a silver medal in Rio in the 1500m event. Barber is an 800m specialist.