Three former winners of the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon will be back to challenge for the 2015 marathon crown, it was announced today at the pre-race media conference. The 2014, 2013 and 2012 champions, Daniel Kipkoech, Lamech Mokono, and Thomas Omwenga lead an impressive elite field on Sunday in the 36th annual event. Lioudmila Kortchaguina, the 2014 women’s marathon winner is also returning as is the 2013 and 2010 champion, Victoria’s Catrin Jones. As of noon Wednesday, when online registration closed, there were 8,619 in the four events – the Marathon, Half Marathon, 8K Road Race and the Thrifty Foods Kids Run.
“There is a strong interest from Kenyan, Ethiopian, Japanese and American athletes this year as several high performance runners from other countries will be joining many top level Canadians,” says Bob Reid, Dairyland High Performance Athlete Director. ”Mokono set the course record of 2:13:42 in 2013 and he is returning from Kenya very fit and keen to lower that mark.” Omwenga, who is now a Canadian citizen, has won the marathon twice, and as a former course record holder is keen the capture the title back. Kipkoech came second in this year’s BMO Vancouver Marathon with a time of 2:18:25.
Kortchaguina, from Markham, Ontario, is the women’s marathon favourite. “She won the 2014 event in 2:41:39 to set a new master’s record and could lower the women’s open course record of 2:37:56, as she ran a 2:37:37 to win the BMO Vancouver Marathon this year,” adds Reid. She will challenged by second seed Hirut Guangul, an Ethiopian now living in New York. She ran a 2:38:07 in Hong Kong in January, and a 2:41:25 in the BMO Vancouver Marathon, coming second to Kortchaguina.
The Half Marathon field is led by Paul Kimugul who is in fine form having won the Around the Bay 30K in March in 1:33:48. In 2014 he set the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon course record in 1:02:38, just six seconds shy of the Victoria course record set by Jon Brown in 2002. Last year’s winner Willy Kimosop is returning and will be a threat and hoping to better his 2014 time of 1:06:00.
The 2014 female half marathon champion, Anne-Marie Madden, from Vancouver is back to defend her title. She ran a 1:16:35. On her heels will be Kimberly Doerksen from Gibsons, BC who set a personal best and event record at the 2014 Sunshine Coast April Fool’s run (1:14:53).
The men’s 8K field typically is heavy with Victoria runners and this year is no exception. Top seed, however, is Vancouver’s Theo Hunt who won the Harriers Pioneer 8K in January in 24:59. Top seeded Victoria runners include Nick Walker, who won the Sooke 10K in 33:59, and Craig Odermatt, winner of the 2015 Vancouver Island Race Series.
Lindsay Carson, the 2014 8K champion from Whitehorse, is returning to defend her title. She won in 27:15. She will have a challenge from Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff, the 2011 winner (27:59), and three-time XTERRA world champion, Melanie McQuaid.
Also announced today was a joint collaboration between the Victoria Marathon Society, GoodLife Fitness and the City of Victoria. A Legacy Fund will be established for a project in the community to support an active, healthy lifestyle. “We haven’t identified the project yet, as we are working with the City of Victoria to determine the projects that would mutually support our goals,” said Glen Colwill, President of the Victoria Marathon Society. “We are equally pleased to announce that GoodLife Fitness has agreed to match our contribution and that the combined contribution is $30,000.”
The 2015 Frontrunners Walk of Fame inductees were revealed. Darrell Fox and Mena Westhaver were presented with their stones, which will be placed outside Frontrunners’ downtown store. Fox is Terry Fox’s brother and as a board member of the Terry Fox Research Institute, works tirelessly on many of Terry’s legacy projects. This year is 35 years since the Marathon of Hope. Westhaver, is an inspirational leader in the community, and founder of Sole Sisters, a female running/walking group that has raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes.
This year Victoria is once again hosting the BC Marathon Championships. In 2016, in addition to hosting the Championships for the eighth time, it will be the concluding race in a new races series, the BC Super Series. A collaboration between BC Athletics and 12 of BC’s best road races, the series will bring the best athletes in BC together in competition, and encourage participation from all abilities.
The total prize purse for the Dairyland High Performance Athlete Program in the Marathon and Half Marathon is $36,650, with $4,000 each going to the top male and female Marathoner, and a $5,000 bonus for a new men’s or women’s Marathon course record. The Men’s course record was set in 2013 by Lamech Mokono in 2:13:42 and the Women’s by Lucy Njeri in 2011 (2:37:56). Natasha Wodak-Fraser set a new women’s Half Marathon record in 2012 (1:14:06). The Men’s Half Marathon record is held by Jon Brown (2002 – 1:02:32). Gary Barber holds the men’s 8K Road Race course record (1989 – 23:23), and Ulla Marquette holds the women’s record (1991 – 26:24). Two World Records have also been set in Victoria – Gwen McFarlan in 2010 in the W75-79 (4:02:27); and Betty Jean McHugh in the W80-99 in 2008 (4:35:52).
As of online registration closing on Wednesday the Marathon has 1,545 registrants; the Half Marathon has 3,757; the 8K Road Race has 2,400, and the Thrifty Foods Kids Run is at 917. Registration is still open for all events with late entries being accepted at the Race Expo, at the Victoria Conference Centre, from 3:00 pm – 7:30 pm on Friday, October 9, and 9:00 am – 6:00 pm on Saturday, October 10. There is no race day registration.
For more details visit www.runvictoriamarathon.com