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The 2015 Victoria International Track Classic took place under breezy conditions with sunny skies and mild-to-warm temperatures. The highlight of the night as expected was the women’s international 800-metre event.

With several dramatic turns in the women’s national 800m standings, Langley’s Fiona Benson ran her third consecutive personal best time in less than two weeks. She won in a photo-finish win against the best competitors in the country. Less than two weeks prior, she ran to a massive new personal best by over seven seconds during the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series at UVic’s Centennial Stadium. Her winning time of 2:01.58 set the fastest time in Canada for 2015. On June 8th at the Harry Jerome Track Classic, North Vancouver’s Jessica Smith prevailed in a season best 2:01.40 to leap-frog Benson for the fastest time of the year. At the Victoria Track Classic, Benson took that lead back.Benson_FlashVictoria2015

She won the race in a virtual tie with Canada’s fastest active 800m runner, Melissa Bishop of Eganville, Ontario. The two are credited with a finishing time of 2:01.02, which is just two-one-hundredths of a second shy of the benchmark 2:01.00 to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2015 Beijing World Championships. After the photo review Benson was credited with the win. Asked if she is pinching herself with her new level of running she said, “Every night.”

Sunday, June 14th is the final day to qualify for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games – the two fastest athletes in Canada for each event qualify. Currently Benson leads and Bishop, with her virtual tie in Victoria is the second athlete. The Victoria Track Classic was the final Canadian opportunity to qualify for the Pan Am Games; however, there is one more meet taking place in Oregon on Sunday night that may continue the drama. Bishop said, “this is great for Canada, we can now really compete internationally, bring it on.” Smith, being the odd oBishop_FlashVictoria2015ne out at this moment, will have to race Sunday if she wishes to make Team Canada, by going better than at least Bishop – not an easy task.

Bishop and Smith are the third and fourth Canadians to ever run under the two-minute barrier with their 1:59.70 and 1:59.86 times, respectively. The other two are retired athletes Charmaine Crooks and Diane Cummins. Cummins still holds the national record with her 1:58.32.


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Harry Jerome Track Classic – June 8th

1 Jessica Smith               Canada                   2:01.40
2 Fiona Benson                 Canada                2:01.48
3 Melissa Bishop               Canada                2:01.67
4 Rachel Aubry                 Canada                 2:02.82
5 Rachel Francois             Canada                 2:03.71
6 Lindsey Butterworth     Canada                  2:04.86
7 Samantha Murphy       Canada                  2:05.09
8 Shannon Leinert           Canada                 2:09.69
— Liga (Pace) Velvere         Latvia                     DNF

Victoria International Track Classic – Wednesday, June 10th

1 Benson, Fiona               CANADA                  2:01.02
2 Bishop, Melissa             CANADA                  2:01.02
3 Brown, Sarah                 UNITED STATES     2:01.56
4 Francois, Rachel             CANADA               2:02.25
5 Leinert, Shannon         UNITED STATES        2:02.49
6 Golish, Sasha                CANADA                 2:02.90
7 Aubry, Rachel               CANADA                   2:03.01
8 Praska, Bethany             UNITED STATES      2:03.34
9 Smith, Jessica                CANADA                  2:04.98
— Velvere, Liga               PACER                             DNF

Christie-Phoenix Victoria Run Series – Saturday, May 30th

Fiona     Benson                 Langley                    2:01.58
Rachel   Francois               Victoria                    2:03.15
Hilary     Stellingwerff      Saanich                      2:04.41
Kate       Van Buskirk        Toronto                    2:07.14
Erica       Digby                   Vancouver              2:09.47
Alyssa   Mousseau             Nanaimo                 2:10.65
Miryam   Bassett 20-29    Nanaimo                    2:16.46