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For the cities of Vancouver, Victoria and the general area, including Vancouver Island, the month of April is chock-a-block full of road races.

Vancouver Sun Run

Canada’s and one of the world’s largest 10K races takes place on Sunday, April 21 in downtown Vancouver. The long-running Vancouver Sun Run will welcome upwards of 40,000 participants to the corner of George and Thurlow, for a big downhill start to a fast West Coast race.

The 40th edition

The 40th edition is happening this year.

The Sun Run will welcome an elite field that will be as fast as any 10K race in the country. Due to the big downhill start, and the start and finish being far apart, the race does not qualify for records and standards, however, if runners want bragging rights, the Sun Run is the race to toe the line in.

Elite women’s start at 2018 Sun Run. Photo Credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

The Sun Run was founded by Canadian Olympians Dr. Doug and Diane Clement along with Dr. Jack Taunton. The run’s purpose was to promote the benefits of running, improve health and fitness, and support elite amateur athletics. The first run attracted 3,200 participants. The race also helps fund the Harry Jerome Track Classic, a meet that happens each year in June to offer Canadian and international athletes opportunities to qualify for a regional or global championship.

The event records are 27:31 by Joseph Kimani of Kenya from 1996 and 30:58 by Isabella Ochichi of Kenya run in 2006. Defending champions are John Gay who clocked a 29:40 performance, while Leslie Sexton won in 32:22. Both reside in Vancouver.

History of winners

YearMale winnerCountryTime (m:s)Female winnerCountryTime (m:s)
1985Rob Lonergan Canada28:47Susan Lee Canada32:39
1986Graeme Fell Canada29:30Debbie Scott-Bowker Canada33:31
1987Graeme Fell Canada29:11Lynn Kanuka-Williams Canada32:15
1988Paul Williams Canada29:12Lynn Kanuka-Williams Canada33:04
1989Rex Wilson New Zealand28:44Lynn Kanuka-Williams Canada32:19
1990David Campbell Canada28:54Debbie Scott-Bowker Canada33:06
1991Philip Ellis Canada29:03Patricia Puntous Canada33:48
1992Paul Williams Canada29:03Nancy Tinari Canada32:44
1993Silvio Guerra Ecuador28:42Leah Pells Canada32:48
1994Daniel Komen Kenya27:46Daria Nauer Switzerland32:55
1995Simon Chemoiywo Kenya28:27Olga Appell United States32:57
1996Joseph Kimani Kenya27:31Angela Chalmers Canada31:05
1997Tom Nyariki Kenya27:56Sally Barsosio Kenya31:47
1998Christian Weber Canada28:40Krystina Pieczulis Poland32:55
1999Simon Chemoiywo Kenya28:52Tina Connelly Canada32:41
2000James Koskei Kenya27:36Sally Barsosio Kenya32:24
2001James Koskei Kenya28:06Sally Barsosio Kenya33:04
2002James Koskei Kenya27:58Sara Dillabough Canada33:17
2003Paul Koech Kenya28:48Aster Demissie Ethiopia33:20
2004Thomas Kiplitan Kenya28:43Émilie Mondor Canada31:10
2005Michael Power Australia29:26Nicole Stevenson Canada32:30
2006Gilbert Okari Kenya28:27Isabella Ochichi Kenya30:58
2007Solomon Tsige Ethiopia29:22Teyba Erkesso Ethiopia32:05
2008Festus Langat Kenya29:26Genet Gebregiorgis Ethiopia33:35
2009Willy Kimosop Kenya29:04Abebu Gelan Ethiopia34:04
2010Kip Kangogo Kenya29:02Malindi Elmore Canada33:06
2011Eric Gillis Canada29:06Lucy Njeri Canada33:41
2012[10]Kelly Wiebe Canada29:13Natasha Fraser Canada34:12
2013Paul Kimugul Kenya29:04Natasha Fraser Canada32:42
2014Paul Kimugul Kenya28:59Rachel Cliff Canada33:14
2015Luke Puskedra United States28:53Risper Gesabwa Kenya32:28
2016Eric Gillis Canada28:52Lanni Marchant Canada32:15
2017Joseph Gray United States29:38Karolina Jarzynska-Nadolska Poland32:39
2018Brendan Gregg United States29:14Monicah Wanjuhi Kenya32:23
2019Justin Kent Canada29:30Natash Wodak Canada32:38
2020cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic[5]
2021
2022Lucas Bruchet Canada28:29Leslie Sexton Canada32:37
2023John Gay Canada29:40Leslie Sexton Canada32:22
From Wikipedia.

Victoria’s TC10K

The 34th edition of this race will be celebrated in 1990s style in 2024 on April 28. The course is fast, but not as fast as the Sun Run, however, records and standards indeed count here in the capital city of the province of British Columbia on beautiful Vancouver Island.

The race is the province’s second-largest 10K with anywhere from 8000 to 12,000 total registrations.

2019 TC10K start. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated.

Like the Sun Run, the TC10K helps fund a local track meet annually, the Victoria Track Classic. The meet is a complement to the Harry Jerome Track Classic and travelling athletes often make both meets. Road racers often double up to do both the Sun Run and TC10K too.

Also, like the Sun Run (Vancouver Sun newspaper), the TC10K is named after and is sponsored by the paper of record the Times Colonist. The race starts and finishes in front of the stately Empress Hotel, Parliament Buildings and the beautiful yacht-filled Inner Harbour.

Defending champions are Thomas Nobbs (29:43) and Dayna Pidhoresky (33:32), both of Vancouver. In 1995 Kenyan Simon Chemwoyo ran 28:47 to set the event record. Scottish Canadian Sarah Inglis took the women’s record in 2019 with her 32:23 performance.

Bazan Bay 5K

Potentially the fastest road 5K race in North America. While there have been much faster times elsewhere, this small 5K road race does not offer prize money or appearance fees, therefore attracts a small crowd of fast West Coast Canadians. The event is part of the 45-year-long running Vancouver Island Race Series. There are eight races in the series with the finale happening on Sunday, April 14 in Sidney, BC. Sidney, is a 15-25-minute drive from Greater Victoria. And it is a five to 10-minute drive from the local airport and ferry terminal.

The Bazan Bay race runs south with closeup views of the San Juan and Gulf Islands of Washington State and BC. There is a very small incline outbound and a very fast return.

Surrey’s (Greater Vancouver) Yemane Mulugeta won the race in 2023 in the time of 14:23. The men’s course record is 14:11 by Geoff Martinson. The women’s defending champion is Jennifer Erickson with her 16:41 performance. The women’s course record is held by Canadian Olympian, Malindi Elmore, of Kelowna BC. She clocked 15:48 in 2012.

McLean Mill 10K

Lumber used to be very big business on Vancouver Island. And it still can be, however, tourism, government and tech are the biggest. The little town that did on Vancouver Island — after the wood industry began to slide in the 1980s — was Chemainus. However, Port Alberni is also shaking its money maker in the tourism business.

Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri.

The inland port town is the gateway to the wild west coast toward the popular towns of Ucluelet and Tofino, where a certain prime minister likes to surf.

The town hosted the Vancouver Island Race Series’ Port Alberni Paper Chase 10K ran for a number of years before the race was shut down due to a lack of local organizers. Like the town, it was resurrected during the mid-2000s. The iterations varied from 10K to 15K and fast and hilly, popular and not-so-popular until it was moved north of downtown to the National Historic Site, McLean Mill. The McLean Mill 10K offers a rolling course, with a fast finish. The post-race event was fun and runners raved about the event, and the rustic closed-in start and finish areas within the mill. This is a must-do race on Vancouver Island happening Sunday, April 7 at the civilized hour of 11:00 AM.

Other races

Although not in the merry month of April, this Vancouver fixture — The BMO Vancouver Marathon — is shortly after on May 5 and often puts the cap on the road season for the West Coast. The event offers a marathon distance race at 42.195K, a half-marathon and an 8K. The marathon and half-marathon are sold out.

Wodak, mid-course at Comox, video screen capture (GoPro Hero 4).

Not strictly on the West Coast, but within driving distance is the Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, Washington. Upwards of 70,000 people will run this event with its odd distance and featured massive hill. Washingtonians, don’t care about the hill. This is the event of the year for Spokane. It also happens on Sunday, May 5.

Within the six-week range of the “April spring race season” is the now-completed Comox Valley RV Half Marathon in Courtenay, BC. Put this one on your calendar for 2025. This year’s edition saw 681 finishers, so it is a smaller, community event, but offers a faster course — but yes, there are some hills, and top-notch organization. The race went on Sunday, March 24 and saw Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak set a new course record of 1:11:52. The two-time Olympian is gearing up for the Hamburg Marathon on April 28 to try to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Fellow Vancouverite Dayna Pidhoresky also improved on the previous course record with her finish of 1:13:49, Pidhoresky will also run Hamburg. Men’s defending champion is Dusty Spiller of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

See post-race interviews with Wodak and Spiller:

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