Kelly Wiebe, Lanni Marchant win Modo Spring Run-Off 8K. Record crowds turn out for Canada Running Series opener.

VANCOUVER. March 22nd, 2015. Kelly Wiebe and Lanni Marchant recorded impressive victories ahead of a record-sized crowd of almost 1,300 runners at Sunday’s Modo Spring Run-Off 8K in Stanley Park. The event was “Opening Day” for Canada Running Series 2015, the country’s #1 running circuit, and drew runners from 7 provinces and 8 countries. It was also an important fundraiser for the Take-A-Hike Foundation.

Wiebe, who will be leaving tomorrow to race for Canada in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships next Saturday in Guiyang, China, came out strong and took no prisoners in a stacked men’s field.

I knew it was going to be very tough competition today, so I was looking to go out hard. I made sure the first couple of kilometres were really, really honest! After that I just tried to maintain the gap to the Finish. The race was an important sharpener for World Cross. I just wanted to feel good and build confidence.”

Kelly Wiebe winner Modo8K Horizontal

Returning Champion Kelly Wiebe takes the win in 23:42

Kelly passed 1km in 2:45 and never looked back, crossing the line in 23:42, 40 seconds faster than his winning time in the race last year.

Geoff Martinson was very pleased with second place. “”It was better than I expected,” he said.

I went out a little bit conservatively. I kept my eyes on Kelly and Chris [Winter] ahead and slowly tried to reel them in. Kelly went out very fast. I knew I couldn’t hold that pace. I just went with what felt good for me. Then, with a K to go I found a bit more in the tank and got by Chris”.

In the women’s race, there was a really tasty battle between Canadian Marathon record holder Lanni Marchant [London, ON] and Vancouver’s Rachel Cliff. Marchant eventually prevailed, 26:43 to 26:55 ,but not before a thrilling duel around the Stanley Park Seawall.

Lead Women Modo8K

Dayna Pidhoresky, Lanni Marchant, and Rachel Cliff battle it out on the Modo8K course!

I just ran with Rachel the first 4 or 5km,” said Marchant. “Then I really tried to pick it up and run strong the last 3k. Rachel made a surge around 4k and I had to hang on. Then I got a second wind around 5k and moved away the last two K. I think I knew I had it by 6k. I’m really happy to come out here and win. The Vancouver girls really seem to own the races out here, so it was nice to represent Ontario!” From here I’m going to Payton Jordan and do some track in April, before switching back to marathon training for the Pan Am Games marathon in July.

Third place finisher Dayna Pidhoresky [27:13] also threw down an important marker ahead of her Around The Bay 30k in Hamilton, ON next weekend. “I felt strong,” she said. “I’m ready for the longer races and this was a really good test.” Dayna went out with Lanni and Rachel for the first two kilometres, and although she dropped off a little then, the leaders never got too far away. “I really enjoyed watching the battle unfold ahead,” she said.

World Beer Mile Champion, Corey Gallagher of Winnipeg, got hammered (no alcohol until post-race) by the extremely competitive field placing 11th with a time of 25:47.

Cory Modo8K

World Beer Mile Champion Corey Gallagher.

Participants today ran in support of Take a Hike, a unique combination of adventure-based learning, therapy and community service – all integrated into a full-time high school curriculum that works to empower ‘at risk’ youths in our community. The program teaches life skills and attempts to repair relationships between participants and their families. Take a Hike students volunteered at the event and together with Modo raised over $4,200 to support local school programs.

“We were thrilled with the turnout today, and the outstanding quality of the field,” said Canada Running Series president Alan Brookes, “What a fabulous launch into spring. We can’t thank everyone enough for making this event such a success. The energy was superb! We’re proud and hugely appreciative of being able to race in such a magnificent setting like Stanley Park. Special thanks to the City and Parks Board for allowing us to race here.”

Modo Spring Run Off 8K Men:

1. Kelly Wiebe 23:42

2. Geoff Martinson 23:58

3. Chris Winter 24:05

Modo Spring Run Off 8K Women:

1. Lanni Marchant 26:43

2. Rachel Cliff 26:55

3. Dayna Pidhoresky 27:13

Complete results can be found at http://www.canadarunningseries.com/results/2015/srov/overall.html

For a complete list of Canada Running Series 2015 events see http://www.canadarunningseries.com/crs/index.htm