Lucy Smith leads Madelyn Brunt in the 5000m, June 14.

© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News

Nineteen-time Canadian champion Lucy Smith of Saanich may just be running for fun these days, but the premise hasn’t stopped her from breaking national records. Two Wednesdays in a row, the mother of two, coach and two-time duathlon world silver medallist broke the Canadian 5,000m record for her age-group (50-plus).

“It is definitely fun for me now. Racing was always fun, but now it is fun without the pressure,” said Smith. “I’m glad I did all those years of pressure because I gained some great insights and skills—like how to focus, how to relax while working hard and how to pace. So being able to go out and run a paced 5,000m again was a cool challenge.”

On Wednesday, June 14, she quickly checked out what the record was for the distance and decided to go after it that night during the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Track Series third meet.

The old record was 17:49.83 by Kathryn Martin from her 2002 running of the distance in Orono, ME. Smith would better it by more than 10 seconds by going 17:39.66.

Wednesday the 21st, she was asked by Melissa Ross of Nanaimo, to pace her to a 17:30 in the fourth and final Victoria Track Series meet of the 2017 season – a last chance opportunity.

Smith, as always did a masterful job of pacing and in so doing broke her own record by nearly seven seconds, finishing in the time of 17:32.97.  Ross finished in 17:33.14 for her fastest performance in over four years.

“Mentoring and helping Melissa was my main focus last night and that responsibility caused me to pace even better than last week, which resulted in the slightly faster time. Having a solid pack of three for a good part of the race was pretty cool.”

Liam Stanley finishes third. Taken by Walter Cantwell.

Part of that pack was Justine Stecko who attends Oak Bay High School. She is one of the top young runners in Canada and is coached by two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon as part of the Prairie Inn Harriers Youth Team.

It was a feeling-things-out race after coming back from double stress fractures. Stecko ran fast enough to run the national junior championships standard by finishing in the time of 17:55.64.

Ross said, “I just raced the Longest Day 5k five days ago and finished in 18:07, and knew my fitness was better than that, so I convinced Lucy Smith to pace me as I wanted to run at least as fast as she had raced the week prior in 17:39. Ultimately I was looking to run about 17:30 as a best case scenario and definitely under 18:00. Lucy paced me to run 17:33! It was a strong, controlled race and I definitely worked for it! This is the fastest race I have run since 2013 when I finished in 17:24 during the series, which is my personal best!”

Craig Odermatt won the race outright in the time of 16:14.60. Smith and Ross finished second and third overall.

The track meet also included three 300m races as well as the 800m, 1000m and 1500m distances. The 300m and 1000m are off-distance events that created much curiosity. The fastest of the 300m opened the evening with former UVic Vikes Matthew Winkler winning in the time of 36.52. There were four finishers under 40 seconds including Ben Sammon in 36.84, David Johnson for third in 38.22 and Oleg Saldyga with a 39.00. The other two 300m races were won by Beth Venables in 47.33 and Boyd Farrell who threw himself across the line in dramatic fashion for a 52.37. Both Venables and Farrell compete in the masters division (40-plus). Farrell also runs with the program Operation Track Shoes.

Winkler was at it again in the 1000m race, winning in the time of 2:43.40. He is an 800m specialist and won the final race of the evening – an 800m – in the time of 1:56.75.

In the 1500m event, Liam Stanley, who is the Rio 1500m silver medallist from the Paralympic Games, finished in third place in 4:16.65. He was bettered only by Matthew Thibodeau and Joe Robertson, who finished in the time of 4:15.05 and 4:15.16. It was a race led by Vlad Lyesin for most of the distance, but the front-running caught up to him and he faded over the final 200m to finish in fifth behind 800m specialist Michael Barber.

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