VANCOUVER, BC. June 25th. Lethbridge’s Kip Kangogo (65:35) and Toronto’s Lyndsay Tessier (77:00) raced to emphatic victories in the 19th edition of the Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon, presented by Asics, ahead of 4,229 participants this morning. Another 2,506 took part in the accompanying 5K. The total, sold-out crowd of 6,735 were drawn to the magnificent scenery of the Pacific Northwest and the finish in world-famous Stanley Park, from 9 Canadian provinces, 26 American states and 27 countries around the world. Combined, the runners also raised and impressive $970,000 for 76 mostly-local charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.
The summerlike conditions showed one of the world’s most-scenic half marathons at its best, but led to tactical races up front. It was 19c for the 7:30am start of the “Scotia Half” start at the University of British Columbia at 7:30am. A group of 4 immediately broke away from the field, led by Canada’s 2012 Olympic marathoner Dylan Wykes, with Kangogo, Lakefield, Ontario’s Thomas Toth and Tristan Woodfine from Guelph’s Speed River TFC tucked in behind. Two initial three-minute kilometres got rid of Woodfine who drifted back on tired legs, and the pace slowed to consistent 3:10s as Wykes kept things moving along. Toth, who had already put in over 200 kilometres this week as he prepares to represent Canada in the IAAF World Championships marathon in London in August, was gone by 8k (24:51). It then turned into a thoroughly absorbing cat and mouse contest between two wily veterans. Kangogo had already won the event an impressive 5 times, Wykes once in 2014 (with Kangogo 2nd). The pair continued down through Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach, Point Grey and into Kitsilano with Wykes doing all the leading, and Kangogo in his footsteps behind. 10k was passed in 30:47 and 15k in 46:33 before Kangogo moved out to test Wykes’ race fitness around Kits Point at 17k. At 18k, going onto the challenging uphill over Burrard Bridge, the Albertan made his signature, decisive move that has given him so many victories on the course and it was over quickly. “My training has been coming along really nicely,” Kangogo said. “I was happy with my preparation and I planned to make my move at 18k on the bridge. I had won the Canadian Half marathon Championships 3 weeks ago in Calgary and I was ready. I love this race and am glad to come back anytime.” Despite dropping off to finish 18 seconds back (65:53) Wykes was also pleased with his performance. After battling injuries for 4 years and starting a family, he ran a steady, controlled effort. “It’s great to be back racing,” he said. “Right now I’ve still only got one gear, but watch out for me in the Fall!” Toth crossed the line a distant third in 68:02, with Woodfine another minute back (69:03).
The women’s race produced a surprise winner in Lyndsay Tessier from Toronto’s Black Lungs club, ahead of strong pre-race favourite Dayna Pidhoresky (78:10) of Vancouver. Pidhoresky was coming off a breakthrough performance at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon just 4 weeks ago – a PB of 2:36:08 that also earned her a place on the Canadian team to the World Championships. “It was tough out there,” she said. “It was hot. The plan was to do a tempo workout and I thought that might be good enough to win today, but it wasn’t. Lyndsay really deserved to win. I’ve only had a couple of workouts since Ottawa, and I was worried if I pushed too hard it might set me back, and I’d miss some important training for London.” Pidhoresky got off to her typical quick start and was well clear at 3k which she passed in 10:02. But Tessier remained steady, gradually hauling her in. Tessier caught up around 8k, and the pair battled back and forth until 13k when Tessier made the move, to eventually win by over a minute. “Early on I just tried to keep the green shorts in sight,” said Tessier. “I’m not good on downhills, and Dayna got away from me on the downhill from 8k to 9k, but I caught up to her again by 10k. I do much better on the uphills and I moved away on the rise from Jericho at 13k. Burrard Street bridge was really a throat punch at the end but once I got over it I just held on.” Washington State’s Courtney Olsen was 3rd in 80:47.
Following the race, Race Director Clif Cunningham presented Kangogo with 6 rings to represent his 6 victories on the course, after several years of the former college All-American repeatedly joking about “where’s my rings?!” A live band, a teeming “Charity Village” and all around good vibes with snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, rounded out a spectacular Vancouver running experience.
After a summer hiatus the Canada Running Series resumes in Vancouver, with the Under Armour Eastside 10k on September 16th. http://canadarunningseries.com/vancouver-eastside-10k/
Full results from today at http://canadarunningseries.com/scotiabank-vancouver-half-marathon/the-weekend/#results-and-photos