TC10K start heading north on Government Street -2017 edition – Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2018 – Victoria Sports News

The TC10K (Times Colonist 10K) race that takes place annually near the end of April, is a standout Victoria, BC fixture. It is a foot race that is enjoyed by the community at large as well as a collection of competitive regional elite athletes and a handful of international competitors, but the overall race numbers are declining at a concerning rate.

For the community, the run seems to coincide with the advent of warmer weather and a blossoming city. In fact, it was originally named, The Garden City 10K. For competitive athletes, the race is scheduled conveniently just before track season gets into full swing and one week after the Vancouver Sun Run as well as one week before the BMO Vancouver Marathon and half-marathon – a great final tune-up race.

For the 2018 edition, the race, according to the website RaceStats.org saw a continuation of the trend towards lower participation levels. Just 6,748 people walked or ran the 10K event. According to BC Athletics (the provincial governing body of athletics), the number is slightly higher at 6,796 – close enough to illustrate the point.

In 2017, the TC10K had a total of approximately 8900 registrations (10K + kids), there were 6,832 timed 10K finishers. In 2018, there was ~8800 total registrations (10K + kids) and 6,796 timed 10K finishers.

According to Racestats.org, the 2017 race saw 886 less than the 7,724 who participated in 2016 and 715 fewer than the 8,439 that crossed the finish line in 2015. The race has shrunk every year for nine consecutive years, dropping from its peak of 10,615 from 2010.

The race held steady for four years with 9,942 participants in 2009, 10,615 in 2010, 10,151 for 2011 and 10,004 in 2012.

According to a Sportstats.ca (official results site) representative in an email, “The numbers published by the events [themselves] include all participants regardless if they are timed are not. For TC10K and Sun Run there are kids events that attract several thousand kids that are not published anywhere. Sportstats.ca reports all the registered timed runners and eventuality removes the DNS participants.” [DNS: Did Not Start].

In comparison, for the Sun Run, registrations are more or less flat. But 10K timed finishers are up likely due to better weather that the race enjoyed this year.

In 2017, the Sun Run had 41,924 total registrations (39,744 in the 10K + 2,180 kids). A total of 32,586 timed 10K finishers crossed the final timing mat.

In 2018, 41,645 total registrations (39,679 in the 10K + 1,966 kids). There were 33,788 timed 10K finishers, all told.

To cap the three races in the three week stretch, the BMO Vancouver marathon and half marathon are run the week after the TC10K; registrations and finishers were both up in 2018.

In 2017, approximately 15,800 total registrations (marathon, half, 8K, relay and kids run). There were 12,635 timed finishers across all events.

This year, there were approximately 17,000 total registrations, which is a significant increase of approximately 1200 (marathon, half, 8K, relay and kids run). They ended up with 14,104 timed finishers across the four events; up ~1500.

For the TC10K, the dropping numbers appear to reflect a potential localized trend of runners and walkers choosing a range of running events, rather than focussing on the big local favourites.

Maurice Wilson, a BC Athletics representative, told Victoria Sports News, “A number of media pieces over the last couple of years have highlighted declining numbers in our sport. But what they have primarily focussed on is the Running USA numbers from events south of the border, with an emphasis on Competitor Group events and similar. In BC, the market share held by the largest events has shown a decline, but when you look at the total number of finishers across all road and trail races in BC, that’s not true. In 2016 there were record numbers. Last year saw a drop in overall numbers, explained by a combination of cancelled events due to bad weather and the loss of events like Rock ‘n’ Roll and CRS Spring Run-Off, but holding steady for other events. And numbers through the first four months of 2018 are similar to 2014 and 2015.”

In addition to BC losing the Rock ‘n Roll Vancouver race and Harry’s Spring Run-off 8K, there were cancellations due to snow and forest fires including the popular First Half, Half Marathon as well as the Kamloops Marathon.

The above mentioned loss of events represents a 7.4% decline in recorded finishers in road and trail races in BC in 2017, after hitting record numbers in 2016, so it is likely that the 2018 numbers will rebound; there appears to actually be more people running and walking events.

Below: Number of races and number of participants across the province for four years 2014-2017, 2018 is trending up again (source: BC Athletics)

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017
Number of events 303 295 309 302
Total finishers 168,568 164,539 172,249 159,575

Around Greater Victoria, the TC10K may be affected by the growth of other races locally. The MEC Race Series has enjoyed increased popularity, perhaps affecting more established events that take place in and around the city.  For 2016, a total of 2,020 runners finished their series, while in 2017, MEC experienced growth to 2,370. The 2018 series is still in progress but is trending up again.

The Island Race Series – the long-established eight and sometimes nine or seven event series of road races has experienced some declining numbers, but is holding comparatively strong with total series finishers going down annually, however, some of those declines had to do with inclement weather, for example, the Pioneer 8K was run in conditions similar to the 2018 Boston Marathon. In other years Pioneer has been moved to a week later or was generally affected by snow or ice. For the 2018 edition, the Pioneer race moved to a brand new location. The Merville 15K was cancelled in 2016 and two years later the Port Alberni Paper Chase 10K was brought back in but was extended to 15K in 2018.

Island Race Series since 2013 has held its own, but there has been a small decline annually. (source: RaceStats.org).

Race 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
Bazan Bay 5K 519 524 552 618 632 748
Sooke River 10K 270 262 356 303 360 352
Comox Valley Half Marathon 372 347 418 459 477 512
Port Alberni Paper Chase 10K/15K 234 243 0 0 0 0
Hatley Castle 8K 321 369 393 478 312 455
Cedar 12K 280 262 373 382 419 452
Cobble Hill 10K 382 424 488 503 576 531
Saanich Pioneer 8K 481 492 524 605 623 656
Merville 15K 0 0 0 275 310 345
Total finishers (RaceStats.org) 2859 2923 3104 3623 3709 4051

The TC10K has not been affected by inclement weather, forest fires or cancellations. Perhaps the drop in numbers at the TC10K, speak directly to the competitive race calendar as well as the price tag.

Late registration for the 2018 event was $70, early registration is $45.

For the Island Race Series, participants can pay an early rate of $125 or a late fee of $175 and race in eight different events and enjoy series-long competitions and performance rankings. The late registration price is equal to $21.87 per race, nearly $50 less than the late TC10K fee. The early rate is equal to $15.62 per race, a bargain in comparison.

The most expensive rate, for day of registration in any Island Series event tops out $40.

The MEC series is even less per race, but offers less frills. Their entire series is $60, so as low as $12 per race. In fairness, there are fixed costs that the TC10K incurs that the other races do not, additionally, early registration at $45 is an excellent value. The rate went up twice in $10 increments and a final $5 increment to top out at $70 to encourage more numbers or early registration, which helps with planning.

The TC10K offers a beautiful course and a stunning start and finish backdrop, prize money for top performers and entertainment in front of the stately Empress Hotel, Parliament Buildings and the Inner Harbour. Some vistas are priceless, but sometimes participants prefer smaller events with more affordable price tags.

Victoria and all of Vancouver Island is an outdoor playground. On any given weekend day or even during the week, the waterways, trails, paths, roads, tracks, mountains and facilities are populated by residents enjoying physical activity. Running is just one of the many choices for exercise that is available in the area.

With the hyper-competitive year-round race schedule in Greater Victoria, seemingly minor details like pricing adjustments may affect purchasing decisions. The consumer simply has an abundance of quality events to choose from.

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