2018 start line by Lyndon Cassell

The fifth race in the Vancouver Island Race Series – Port Alberni Paper Chase 15K – takes place on Sunday, March 10. The race has quite the history in the Series.

Originally organized by the Alberni Valley River Runners, the race was part of the Island Series for 20 consecutive years from 1983-2002. So strong were the runners back then that the course records date from 1987 and 1988. Paul McCloy set the overall record of 29:46 in 1988 with former Vike and TC10K Champion Ulla Marquette setting the women’s record the year before in 33:40. Masters men champion is Mike Creery (32:07 – 1987) and for the women – Rosamund Dashwood in 48:30 (1988).

Bob Reid, from the Prairie Inn Harriers, and elite athlete director for Harriers Pioneer 8K, has fond memories of the 1988 event. “The Harriers chartered a 46-seat bus to travel to the event and over 60 club members participated. Also this was Rob Reid’s first ever Island Series race.  He was 3rd overall in 32:31.”

In 2017 it returned to the Island Series after a 15-year absence as a 10K hosted by the Alberni Chamber of Commerce. Then in 2018 it became a 15K and has since been certified.

Last year part of the course ran through the historic McLean Mill, however the organizers have had to make a small change citing safety concerns. “This years’ race has a bit of a bump to it due to the lingering effects of the February snow and persistent cold nights,” explains race director, Bill Collette. “After several attempts we’ve determined that the loop through the McLean Mill National Historic Site is unsafe for our runners due to the build up of ice and snow. As such, the run will be diverted slightly to ensure that it remains at 15K. Our apologies in advance but runner safety is our primary concern. The course itself is rolling country roads and is beautiful.”

The post-race food – which is always maintains a high standard in the Series – won’t disappoint. “We are happy to confirm that food this year will once again be provided by award winning local businesses Mountain View Bakery and The Starboard Grill,” added Collette.

The main start will be at 11 am with a 10:30 am start for walkers and runners anticipating finishing in approximately two hours. The race starts and finishes at the Cherry Creek Community Centre, 3720 Moore Road, Port Alberni,

Runners can register online until 6 pm Friday, March 8 at www.islandseries.org. Race registration until March 8 is $30 for adults and $25 for students, and on race day the fees are $50.

In the club standings, the Prairie Inn Harriers lead with 2073 points. Second is Bastion Run Club (1700 points) and third is Ceevacs Roadrunners (1326 points).

To qualify for the series awards, participants have to run in five of the eight races, with one being over 10K. Following Port Alberni Paper Chase 15K will be Comox Valley RV Half Marathon on March 24, TriStars 10K on April 7 and the Synergy Health Management Bazan Bay 5K and Series Awards on April 14.