© Copyright – 2024 – Athletics Illustrated

Seventy-five-year-old Courtenay, British Columbia’s Roslyn Smith on Sunday, ran the Harriers Pioneer 8K in Victoria in a Canadian and world-best time of 39:05. She ran three seconds faster according to the not ratifiable chip timing system.

Her goal at Pioneer was to beat the F75 record of 41:41.

“I needed to run as many kilometres in under 5 minutes as I possibly could. Of course, I would be over 5:00 on the uphills. The challenge is always to have the strength and energy for a fast finish. I am still working on that part.”

According to the Canadian Masters Association (CMA), the previous Canadian best was 41:41 by Burnaby’s Karin Vickars. Vickars ran that performance during the 2013 Royal Victoria Marathon’s 8K event.

The previous world best according to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, which has not been updated since 2017, was 40:23 by Louise Gilchrist of Manchester, United Kingdom from her performance on May 25, 2009.

Whether any faster performances than Gilchrist’s has been run since 2017 is unknown at this time. For now, the CMA record is pending ratification. The world best will remain a “world’s best known time,” for now.

Smith has competition in the name of Elizabeth Waywell of Guelph, Ontario.

“I was fortunate to set the Canadian records for F60 in the Comox Valley Half Marathon in 2009 in the time of 1:38:23 and the Victoria Marathon in 3:33:18.

In the age category for F65 in 2015 I ran 1:39:06 in the Comox Valley Half Marathon and the same year the Victoria Marathon in 3:39:35, however, Elizabeth has since broken those.”

About Smith

As it turns out, Smith did not begin training competitively until she was in her 50s. She first entered the Vancouver Island Race Series in 2006.

Smith shared with Athletics Illustrated, “As a member of the Comox Valley Road Runners (CVRR), I immediately took advantage of the weekly track speed sessions. This was really my first experience training with other more serious runners.”

She, however, was active in her youth playing field hockey in high school and university. “We ran a few laps of the soccer pitch to get in shape for the practice or game.”

Setting the national half marathon record for F75 in March 2023. Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri

For Smith, it was in the mid-1970s when a government-initiated program called ParticipACTION was first introduced making Canadians aware of the need for physical activity that she took up running. At this time she was living in Inuvik, NWT. She competed in cross-country skiing and cross-trained by running. The first race — is many Canadian’s first race — the Terry Fox Run in 1981 — the first edition of the national charity run. This race provided Smith and her friends a rare opportunity to race.

“In 1980, at age 33, I ran my first marathon in Whitehorse, Yukon. I really had no idea how to train. I ran about one and a half to two hours every other day. There was no such thing as training plans or proper fuelling in the NWT at that time. My finish result was 3:51. Interestingly, 23 years later at age 56, I would set a personal best at 3:30:51 at the Royal Victoria Marathon in 2004.”

Although she did not run competitively in her youth, now age 75, she has run well for a long stretch. She holds two other Canadian records which are 22:50 at the 2023 Bazan Bay 5K and 1:44:41 at the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon, both part of the same series.   

“Yes, I have had a long go at it and it seems I have become more competitive as the years go by.”

She also holds national records for F60 from the 2009 Comox Valley Half Marathon in a time of 1:38:23 and the Royal Victoria Marathon in 3:33:18.

In the F65 age category in 2015 she ran 1:39:06 in the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon and the same year the Royal Victoria Marathon in 3:39:35

Other Canadian records

She also holds national records for F60 from the 2009 Comox Valley Half Marathon in a time of 1:38:23 and the Royal Victoria Marathon in 3:33:18.

In the age category for F65 in 2015 she ran 1:39:06 in the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon and the same year the Royal Victoria Marathon in 3:39:35, as well as W70 marathon in 3:50:46 October 2022, London, UK.

She enjoys the Vancouver Island Races Series events especially the 5K, half marathon and 8K. “Our Comox Valley Road Runners club really looks forward to the Pioneer 8k. The excitement of the first race of the season and catching up with old friends is really special. We are truly grateful to be able to enjoy running and competing!”

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