Stewart Mountain Challenge (10-mile) start. Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri.

© Copyright – 2018 – Victoria Sports News

Cross-country and trail racing season has arrived and so have the conditions – right on time. While the British Columbia High School Cross Country Championships were going on in Nanaimo’s Beban Park, the 15th annual Stewart Mountain Challenge (10-mile/16K) trail race took place Saturday, Nov. 3 at Thetis Lake Park.

The race, put on by the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club, was run on the first Saturday of December for the first 14 years, however, was moved for 2018 in the hopes of running into better weather.

It rained cats and dogs, leading up, setting the stage for classic muddy conditions.

Local triathlete Andrew Russell won the 10-mile race – there is also a 5-mile edition. He finished in one-hour six minutes and 19 seconds. He finished nearly a minute in front of Travis Pirozzini, who crossed the line in 67:13. The third-place finisher was master (40-plus) Shane Ruljancich in 70:38. Eight of the top-15 finishers were Prairie Inn Harrier club members.

Patricia Roney won the women’s race in the time of 78:29. Masters Cheryl Davies (40-49) and Marilyn Arsenault (50-59) finished second and third respectively. Some athletes ran off course including at least Arsenault.

Andrew Russell near the finish of the 10-mile, for the win. Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri

The race starts at the main beach at Thetis Lake and follows trails west and west-by-north to Stewart Mountain, where runners climb to the top before descending amongst small boulder-size rocks, roots and wet trails.

Harrier, Aaron Holmgren won the 5-mile race in the time of 31:44. He bettered Robert Brunelle by two-and-a-half minutes (34:14). Eric Leydon finished third just one second back.

All three are in the 30-39 age-category.

The first female was Bailey Washbrook. Washbrook finished fifth overall in 40:38. Jennifer Baardseth crossed the line in second in 41:09, while Lise Fraser in the 60-99 age-group finished third in 43:22.

The Stewart Mountain 10-mile is race number one of four in the Thetis Lake Trail Series, which also include Thetis Lake Relays on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, which is followed by the Harrier’s Bob Reid Magical Mile on Nov. 17 and the 34th annual Harrier’s Gunner Shaw Cross Country Classic on Nov. 24.

Results are available here>>

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