Olympians will toe-the-line at the Harriers Pioneer 8K on Sunday

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Luc Bruchet, 2017 champion on his way to the win on Wallace Drive. Photo; VSN

The 2018 Harriers Pioneer 8K that is taking place Sunday, Jan. 7 will include Rio Olympians Luc Bruchet (5,000m) and Natasha Wodak (10,000m) as well as long-time event record holder Carey Nelson. All reside in Vancouver.

“Excluding the Kenyans, it is a stronger field than has ever been assembled for the 10,000-strong TC10K or the 5,000-strong GoodLife Fitness 8K,” shared elite athlete coordinator Bob Reid.

Wodak is the women’s event record holder from 2013 with her 25:28 finish time. It is also the Canadian record. Wodak also owns the national record for the 10,000m event, which is 31:41:59.

Wodak is a prolific road and cross-country racer and is expected to win the Pioneer 8K Sunday; however, there will be a strong contingent of past winners and talented competitors to give her motivation to run well. Her best 10K on the roads is 31:59 and she has competed four times in the IAAF World Championships, twice in each the track and cross-country editions.

Natasha Wodak on her way to the win on Stelly's X Road. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

“I’m looking forward to racing the Prairie Inn Harriers Pioneer K,” shared Wodak. “It is always a great race to start the year off with.”

It is the first road race of the year in Canada.

Wodak finished 22nd during the 2016 Rio Olympics and finished in the time of 31:53.14.

Bruchet is the defending champion. In the 2017 edition, he won in the time of 23:24, 42 seconds ahead of Justin Kent, also of Vancouver. Bruchet is also the defending Canadian Cross Country Champion. He competed in the Rio Olympics finishing 14th during heat 1 with a finish time of 14:02.02. He owns a best of 13:24.10.

“Yes I will be running this Sunday,” said Bruchet. “Fitness has been coming along since the Canadian cross-country champs, but it will be good to test it out this Sunday after the holiday break. A few days after the race, I'm off to Florida for a warm-weather training camp. I am looking towards some fast times indoors and hopefully competing for a spot on the World Indoor team.”

Bruchet will be competing in the 3,000m distance during the winter indoors season. He set his best at the distance on the outdoor track last June in the time of 7:46.89. His best indoors is from 2014 and he will be looking to improve upon his best of 7:56.33 on a 200m track and under 7:51. at the University of Washington in 2016.

There will be another event record holder in the mix. Reid has invited all past winners to the event including Carey Nelson, who continues to hold the time of 22:58 from 1984. Although he is a masters age runner who competes in the 55-59 age-group, he continues to run competitively in his category.

Nelson told Victoria Sports News, “I am excited to race the Pioneer 8K again.”

He added, tongue firmly in cheek, “I'm in good fitness for my age but I don't think I will break my course record.”

Vancouver and Victoria are known as hotbeds for masters age (40+) talent. Many of the national records come from athletes competing on the west coast.

The Pioneer 8K is being run on a brand new course, after two decades of starting and finishing at the Saanich Fairgrounds. This year, the race will start and finish close to the tourist information booth near Sandown Raceway. It encompasses a similarly fast route and elevation profile, with the same number of turns, however, will have less vehicular traffic.

“The masters age groups are very competitive and I am looking forward to a fun day of racing. I hear the new course is a good one.‎ The 8K distance is a good one for all runners to participate in,” added Nelson.

Nelson competed seven times in the IAAF World Championships, four times in cross-country, twice in track and once in indoor track. He also competed in the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the marathon.

The Harriers Pioneer 8K is the first race of both the Vancouver Island Race Series, as well as the BC Super Series. The Island Race Series includes eight road races that take place in Sidney, Sooke, North Saanich, Colwood, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Cobble Hill.

All races start at 11:00 am.

For full details, visit the series website, here>>

Visit Victoria Sports News to find out the latest on who will be racing.



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