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Updated: 1/4/22 1:02 PM PST

The two top seeds for the Harriers Pioneer 8K taking place Sunday, Jan 9 in Victoria, BC are Tokyo Olympians Geneviève Lalonde and Peachland, BC’s Trevor Hofbauer, but they are by no means sure bets to win.

Lalonde competed in the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. She specialises in the 3000m steeplechase event, however, is prolific in cross-country as well as the 5000m race distance. The 30-year-old holds the national record in the 3000msc at 9:22.40, which she set at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. In 2021, she set three new bests including the flat 3000m in 9:21.70, 3000msc and 5000m in the time of 15:48.60.

Lalonde relocated to Victoria from Guelph, ON in 2019. She went on to win the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup, which was held at nearby Bear Mountain Resort. She also won the national cross country championships in November in Ottawa, ON.

Seven-time champion and course record holder Natasha Wodak will toe-the-line. Together, she and Lalonde may have an opportunity to challenge Wodak’s record which is also a national best. The men’s current course record is 24:06 by two-time Olympian Luc Bruchet and the women’s course record is 25:55, which Wodak ran in 2020. She owns the event record at 25:28.

Geneviève Lalonde at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships in Abbottsford, BC.

The course change locations for the 2018 edition.

Lalonde will be challenged by Leslie Sexton and Natalia Hawthorn both of Vancouver.

“This weekend will definitely be a rust-buster for me,” shared Sexton. “I took some downtime after Philadelphia and have been getting back into workouts over the last few weeks. I’m going to race hard and compete as best as I can but I’m trying not to go in with any expectations in terms of pace or placing. I am training towards a fast half marathon at the end of February so this should hopefully be a good fitness check early in the training block.”

Sexton ran a new personal best in the marathon in Philadelphia in November clocking a 2:28:35 finish time. She also set a new 10K pb of 32:04 in Toronto the month prior. Hawthorn ran five new personal bests in 2020 and 2021 including a 10K in 32:59. She ran the 2020 edition of the Pioneer 8K in the time of 26:49 to finish second.

Former Nanaimo-based runner, now in Greater Vancouver, Rebecca Bassett, has overcome a long injury period and is “thankful to be running again, at all,” however, is competitive and took in the BC Cross Country Championships in Victoria three months ago.

Kate Ayers will look to race well. She set a personal best of 27:52 in running the Royal Victoria 8K in October.

Men’s field

Hofbauer specialises in the marathon. He has run the second fastest time in Canadian history behind only Cam Levins. Levins owns the national record from the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon running a 2:09:25. Hofbauer followed up that performance the next year in Toronto with a 2:09:51 clocking. He was the first Canadian across the line, which qualified him for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The former Calgary native recently moved to Peachland, BC in the Okanagan Valley next to Okanagan Lake.

Hofbauer will have his hands full with University of British Columbia Thunderbird Thomas Broatch who recently ran a new personal best over the 10K distance in Toronto with a 29:49 clocking. Also, in the mix is Vancouver’s Christian Gravel who ran 24:24 in October at the Royal Victoria 8K.

The event records are 25:28, by Wodak and 22:58 by Olympian Carey Nelson who clocked that time in 1985.

Trevor Hofbauer at a past Royal Victoria Marathon, half marathon and 8K (formerly GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon). Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

Steve Osaduik of Nanaimo has won the men’s race a record five times, while Wodak’s seven wins is the most by any woman. Of note is Debbie Scott (nee Bowker) who won the first three years in a row 1981-1983 as well as two other years for a total of five. She held the event record 26:08 from 1986 until Wodak ran 25:28 in 2013.

The race is scheduled to go at 11:30 AM sharp.

More information on the Prairie Inn Harriers Pioneer 8K can be found here>>