Olympian Lucas Bruchet takes Central Saanich race

Bruchet six seconds shy of breaking the course record for the Prairie Inn Harriers Running club's Pioneer 8K.

Sunday’s Pioneer 8K race in Central Saanich provided a few thrills - and spills - as the Vancouver Island Race Series kicked off in cool temperatures at the Saanich Fairgrounds.

A chill wind greeted participants in the 2017 Pioneer 8K footrace Sunday at the Saanich Fairgrounds, giving eventual winner Lucas Bruchet a boost to the finish line.

Bruchet, who ran for Canada in the 5,000 metre race in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, was six seconds off the course record, taking the opening race of the Vancouver Island Race Series in 23 minutes and 24 seconds.

“It was a little windy, said Bruchet after the race.

From Vancouver, Bruchet said it’s been a challenge to train in the lower mainland this winter.

“We’ve had ice and snow on everything, so it’s nice to come over here and not worry about that.”

He added his plan going into Sunday’s race was to run hard.

“We used it as a gauge of fitness and as a workout,” he said, noting he was attending the race with his teammates from the BC Endurance Project.

Justin Kent from Burnaby (24:06) finished second and Geoff Martinson, a former Victorian now living in Vancouver was third (24:38).

Top finisher in the women’s event was Vancouver’s Rachel Cliff. She finished with a time of 26:51, a full minute ahead of Victoria’s Hilary Stellingwerff, herself an Olympian last summer in the 1,500m distance event.

In third was Victoria’s Jen Millar (29:21), who was the 2016 women’s Island Race Series champion.

Among the masters runners Heather MacDonald, in the F40 category, won the women’s division in a time of 29:37.

Bruce Deacon provided the race a little drama when he finished first among the male masters (M50-54 category). His quick pace of 27:09 saw Deacon collapse at the finish line, just ahead of Prairie Inn Harriers runner Craig Odermatt.

A clearly exhausted Deacon was attended to by race officials and was helped out of the finish area. He was uninjured.

“Lower Mainland athletes showcased their skills at the 38th annual Harriers Pioneer 8K Road Race with the top five men and two of the top five women recording outstanding performances,” said Bob Reid, High Performance Athlete Director.

An age group record was set in the F70-74 by Valerie Gonzales who ran 41:55 to beat her old record of 42:30 from 2016.

The next race in the Island Series is Cobble Hill 10K on Jan. 22. Check islandseries.org for more races and results.

— with files from Vancouver Island Runners’ Association

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