2018 Harriers Pioneer 8K start . Photo by Joseph Camilleri

The first race in the Vancouver Island Race Series – the Harriers Pioneer 8K – takes place on Sunday, January 13 at 11:30 am. The race is the 40th annual event and is hosted by the Prairie Inn Harriers. The race is also the first in the BC Super Series, a series of 12 races to be run in Vancouver and Victoria.

The Pioneer course is a fast rural out and back route starting on John Road in North Saanich. North Saanich Middle School on McDonald Park Road is the venue for registrations, bag drop off and post-race awards and refreshments.

“The race start is 400m from the school via a pedestrian overpass over the Patricia Bay Highway (Hwy17) to the Visitor Information Centre. As parking is limited at the school, free parking is available in the lot behind the information centre near the race start/finish. Look for the PIH parking signs and attendants,” says race director Kathleen Birney. Race organizers would like to remind everyone that there is a new start time of 11:30 am.

“The 40th annual Harriers Pioneer 8K has once again attracted a stellar field of high performance athletes, many traveling from Vancouver as part of the BC Athletics Endurance Program,” says high performance director, Bob Reid. “Of particular interest is the women’s division with two of the top runners in the country, Rachel Cliff, from Vancouver, and Natasha Wodak, of North Vancouver, going head to head for this year’s victory, as they did last year. Cliff is the defending champion, winning the race twice in 2018 and 2017, and she holds the Canadian Half Marathon Record of 1:10:08.  Wodak has won the race five times and she holds the Canadian 8K Record of 25:28 (also the Pioneer Course Record) and Canadian 10,000m Record of 31:41.”

The men’s field will see a new champion as the 2018 and 2017 winner, Lucas Bruchet, will be competing in a race at the University of Washington. “Victoria’s Matt Noseworthy and Nanaimo’s Shelby Drope finished second and third behind Bruchet last year and both will be looking to break the tape on Sunday,” adds Reid. “Vancouver’s Anthony Tomsich and Victoria’s Adam O’Meara could be in the battle for the lead while Harriers Craig Odermatt should top the master men’s M45 ranks with a strong challenge from Mark Cryderman and Shane Ruljancich.”

The race also has last year’s Island Series champions Shelby Drope and Catrin Jones registered as well as 2018 Vancouver Island Series Trail Race Champions, Andrew Russell and Patricia Roney. Two visually impaired triathletes, Jessica Toumela and Jon Dunkerly, will be running with Guides as they attempt to qualify for Team Canada to participate in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Runners can register online until 6 pm, Friday January 11 at www.islandseries.org, at Frontrunners, 1200 Vancouver St, on Saturday January 12 from 10 am – 3 pm, or on race day from 9:30 am to 11:15 am. Race registration until January 11 is $30 for adults/$25 for students and $50 on race weekend.

The deadline for registering online for the series of eight races is 6 pm, Friday, January 11. The fee is $175.The eight races comprise the Harriers Pioneer 8K on January 13, Cobble Hill 10K on January 27, Cedar 12K on February 10, Hatley Castle 8K on February 24, Port Alberni Paper Chase 15K on March 10, 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.

For more information on the Harriers Pioneer 8k go to: http://pih.bc.ca/race/1-pioneer-8k

To register online for the Harriers Pioneer 8k and for the series go to: www.islandseries.org