Port Alberni start 2017. Photo by Lois DeEll

The Port Alberni Paper Chase road race was welcomed back into the family of the Island Race Series in 2017, with a 10K run.

A decade before, the perennial 10K race was a mid-island favourite; offering a rolling but not too daunting of a course.

There are eight races up and down the island, four in Greater Victoria. Campbell River had a race in the series called the Merville 15K, but after a long run, it was discontinued for 2017. For 2018, the Paper Chase course was lengthened to 15K and is still hilly, but beautiful.

Sunday, Shelby Drope’s death grip on the 2018 running of the Island Series was broken, but he wasn’t beaten, he just didn’t show up to race. Drope finished third in the Harrier’s Pioneer 8K, the first race of the series in North Saanich and then won three consecutive at Cobble Hill, Nanaimo and in Colwood.

This time, Duncan’s Dusty Spiller won, leading 230 others in the inaugural 15K edition, finishing in the time of 52:04.

John Vanderveen was 1:41 back in 53:45, third was Mark Cryderman, who also won the masters division (40-plus) as a 45-59 age-group runner. Cryderman the former UVic Vikes athlete finished in the time of 54:05.

Vanderveen and Cryderman, both of Campbell River were running for a sponsor named Beaver Lodge Bear Bait.

Nanaimo’s Erin Burrett won the women’s race, finishing 13th overall. She represents the Bastion Running Club and is back from a recent niggle; a slight injury to the glute.

“My intentions were to get a hard workout-type effort since I have not raced since the Goodlife 8km (in October) because of a nagging glute,” said Burrett. “I have been able to run easy since January but no workouts until a few weeks ago.”

Burrett said she was happy to see the return of the 15K distance to the island series.

She finished in the time of 57:51, which is just a little slower than her marathon pace. Burrett emerged as a fast marathon runner when she won the 2015 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon in the time of 2:39:17. She went on to run the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon in the time of 2:37:50.

“It was a good rolling course with some off-road running as well. Nice to have a 15k back on the island after having Merville end their race,” she added.

Kristin Smart of the Cowichan Valley and representing the Ceevacs Running Club finished second. She finished in 1:02:17. Carolyn Coffin of Courtenay finished third and first master finishing in 1:05:03.

The next race in the Island Series takes place Sunday, March 18 in Courtney. The Comox Valley Half Marathon offers a fast course and a rural setting. The series will continue with two more races after Comox with the Sooke 10K and the finale, the Bazan Bay 5K and series awards event on Sunday, April 8.

Full results are available here>>