Pioneer 8K race start, 2017. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News

Greater Victoria is considered to be one of the running capitals of Canada, along with Vancouver; it’s a west coast thing.

There are some large, well-organized races in the city. Two that are popular are the TC10K and the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.

Both events have had well over 10,000 registrants multiple times.

One area race, the Pioneer 8K, is well-known in the more serious running community – but like the TC10K and GoodLife Marathon – Pioneer is open to all abilities. On Sunday, Jan. 7, the 39th annual edition will be taking place near Sandown Raceway – offering a brand new course.

The GoodLife Marathon just had their 39th event in October on Thanksgiving weekend, while the TC10K will have their 29th this spring.

Pioneer is much smaller, attracting approximately 600 runners most years. The crowds are more manageable and the atmosphere is less stressful for beginners and people who like smaller events.

2016 Olympian Luc Bruchet of Vancouver leads. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

But don’t let the size of the event suggest it is any less of a race than the others, in fact Pioneer is every bit a race as the TC10K and GoodLife Marathon are. For example, 2016 Rio Olympian Luc Bruchet of Vancouver raced last year, as did international cross-country runner Rachel Cliff and 2012 London Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff.  Most years the top end of the field is made up of Canada’s best middle and long distance runners as well as Canada’s best triathletes.

Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak owns the national 8K record of 25:28, which she set at Pioneer in 2013. She also owns the national 10,000-metre record of 31:41.59 and she competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The men’s record is still owned by Vancouver’s Carey Nelson at 22:58 from 1985. It was set on an old course that existed before the latest version. The latest edition started and ended at the Saanich Fairgrounds across from Stelly’s Senior Secondary.

2017 winner, Rachel Cliff of Vancouver. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

For the 2018 edition, the Pioneer 8K will start near the information booth, just off the Pat Bay Highway near Sandown Raceway. The new route is apparently slightly faster* than the previous route and has the same number of corners to turn.

The Pioneer 8K is the first road race of the year in Canada (excluding New Year’s Day fun runs) and it is the first race of the popular Vancouver Island Race Series as well as the BC Super Series.

Interested participants can find out more information or register here>>

Watch for a new course video coming soon as well as updates on a stellar elite field that is being assembled.

*Elevation profile shows an every-so-slightly flatter course – but marginally so.