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Bruce Gunner Shaw in legendary pond. Photo courtesy of Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club.

© Copyright – 2016 – Victoria Sports News

The Gunner Shaw Cross Country Classic is taking place this Saturday at Thetis Lake. The gun or bullhorn will sound at 1:00 PM for the start. The Prairie Inn Harriers, who organize the race, cap entries at 600.

The race is named after the late Bruce “Gunner” Shaw who was a popular figure in the running community during the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 1984.

Since then, the Harriers Running Club have raised over $316,000 towards foundation projects in Greater Victoria including six major scholarships and bursaries at the University of Victoria and Camosun College.

The race is notorious for its hills, mud, rocks, roots and a couple of muddy, sharp turns that are sure to bring the elbows out. The race also features the infamous pond that at one time was deep enough that runners had to wade chest deep to pass through at near freezing temperatures. The pond is shallower now, but a run-through will still leave the lower legs numb.

The race starts near the parking lot at Thetis Lake and ends on the beach, with a run through the water – the daring dive in head first.

Some of the past winners of the character course include three-time Olympian Simon Whitfield in 1998 who won in the time of 33:35. Steve Osaduik, three-time winner of the Royal Victoria/GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon and former record holder. Jim Finlayson Canadian marathon champion and world record holder in the beer mile and beer two-mile race and Rob Reid, owner of Frontrunners are also past winners.

Melanie McQuaid won it twice; she is a multi-time world Xterra triathlon world champion. Lucy Smith also won twice. Smith is a 20-time national champion in various disciplines on the track, roads, cross-country as well as in triathlon and duathlon.

Saturday’s race will be the 32nd running of the event, which is now part of a series called the Thetis Lake Triple, which starts with a 20K four-lap, four or two-person relay or solo run of both Thetis Lakes on Remembrance Day. The series is capped by a 10-mile (16K) run from Thetis to the top of Stewart Mountain and back to the beach.

All three courses are challenging, each event is fun, well organized and feature the light-hearted commentating of long-time runner and race organizer Bob Reid.

There is a second Gunner Shaw race that takes place in December, at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, which is the same course as the National Cross Country Championships that take place in December each year. Nationals are currently running in Kingston, Ontario for its four-year eastern run and will return to the west in 2019.

Registration is available here>>

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