Welcome to Canada Running Series 2016!

IMG_3045VANCOUVER March 17th 2016. Welcome to Canada Running Series 2016! Yaaaay! Opening Day is finally here with the MODO Spring Run Off 8K this weekend, and it’s GREAT to be back in Vancouver! Springtime. Stanley Park. Blossoms, daffodils and green grass everywhere. I just love our two Spring Run Off 8ks in Stanley Park and in High Park, Toronto, April 9th. And before the month of April is done we move onto Parc Jean Drapeau to enjoy some beautiful, traffic-free Montreal public space. See our full race calendar here.

For me, these CRS park races just seem to get road running in Canada off on the right foot. Racing through some of our country’s best parks as they awaken into bloom just gets the blood pumping. For me, they’re an important social thing, a chance to re-connect with so many friends I’ve mostly kept in touch with over those dark, cold, winter months on social media. Now it’s time to live IRL, not just on the ‘Gram! There’ll be another 60,000 of you running with us in 2016; plus maybe 150,000 family and friends out cheering you on; and another 5,000+ volunteers making it happen with our 15-member, full-time, professional CRS crew. It’s #goodvibesonly . There’s also the fundraising component, as many of you play a key role in raising $6 million a year at the CRS events, for some 330 local charities.

And then there’s the racing bit! Even if it’s primarily a social, healthy lifestyle or charity thing, for many of us it’s still a racing thing! How fast can you run an 8K? Can you improve on last year’s time, or beat your bestie, your crew-mate, workmate or partner? This year will bring an extra excitement as an Olympic year, with many of our CRS stars aiming for Rio, another Canadian National Team, or top rankings in our Series.

Sunday’s MODO Spring Run Off 8K maybe our smallest Series race, but it will have it all, as a quality running experience! Great shirts and finishers’ medals. An accurately-measured, as well as a stunningly attractive course around the world-famous Stanley Park Seawall, a great cause to race for in Music Heals, and the buzzzzzz of competition! The event also doubles as Race #4 in the inaugural BC Super Series.

041_IJ_SVHM11_0832Up front in the Men’s race, we’re excited to see Rob Watson, our CRS “free spirit”! It’s part of his fight to get a place on the bus to Brazil. For that he needs to run a marathon before the end of May in 2:12:50 or faster. His 63:58 half in Houston in January indicates he’s right on track. Sunday’s Modo 8k will be a “blow-out” race for Rob before he gets on the plane for Cardiff, Wales, and the IAAF Half-marathon World Championships next weekend (follow me to Cardiff for coverage). In the UK, he’ll proudly rep the Maple Leaf and take on some super-fast dudes like Mo Farah! Then it’s the London Marathon on April 24th. “It’s London or bust pretty much,” the 32-year-old Watson told us recently. “It’s my last chance to make the Olympics.” 2:12:50. Tick, tick, tick. London calling. And did you know Rob is a fan of the early ‘90s skate punk scene? Maybe some Chuck Ragan, Hothouse Music, Bad Religion or Propagandhi tunes will inspire him?

Just to keep things interesting, Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer will try to get in among the BC boys on Sunday, to keep Rob, Kevin Friesen, Theo Hunt and Nick Hastie honest. Trevor did just that last September when he raced to a 2nd place finish in the Eastside 10k (30:25). Most recently, he’s just back from the World’s Best 10K in Puerto Rico where he ran 30:20, and teamed up with 2015 CRS Women’s Champion and Rio-bound Lanni Marchant to win the NACAC team competition for Canada, and take home the USD$20,000 first prize.

Wondering if the old guys still have the magic? It’ll be worth getting out of bed on Sunday just to see the epic duel between Vancouver’s super-Master, “Super-K” Kevin O’Connor and the pride of the Victoria veterans, 2015 Canadian National Masters cross-country champion, Craig Odermatt.

The Women’s race on Sunday promises a tasty head-to-head RachelCliffduel between Rachel Cliff and Dayna Pidhoresky. They were 2nd and 3rd at last year’s Modo, behind Lanni, with Rachel just 18 seconds ahead of Dayna as they crossed the Finish line at the Pavilion. Rachel is in great form, with a Course Record performance at last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K [16:05]. Dayna’s training has been going very well, but it’s not translated to the races so far in 2016. January saw her DNF at 25k into the Houston Marathon after passing halfway inside the time needed for the Canadian women’s Rio standard of 2:29:50. Then on February 5th she started equally well at a hot and humid Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Half, passing 10k in 35:17, before fading to finish in 1:18:41. Will it be third time lucky for Dayna this Sunday? We’re also thrilled to see she’ll be going for the “SRO-Double”, also racing the Race Roster Toronto Spring Run Off 8k on April 9th. Read more about that on our blog! 

Is anyone else doing the double? I’ll be doing the “Race Director Double”. In fact, I’ve been RD of the Toronto SRO since 1986 when O’Connor and Odermatt were still in short pants!!!

So I hope you’ll join us on Sunday in Stanley Park . We still have some 50 to 100 bibs left up for grabs. Come out and “just give it hell!” as Rob Watson advises!  If you’re looking for some more detailed advice, look no further than Chris Winter’s “6 Tips To Keep You Out Of Trouble On Race Day.

And if you’re not up for running, then you must come out and cheer, have a beer with us after the race, relax and enjoy the post-race concert with Dominique Fricot and REGAL! 

CRS 2016 is here, there’s LOTS to celebrate, and it’s just the start of an epic year. Good luck to all. ENJOY your running and racing.

For info on last-minute registration and packet pick up see: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/spring8k/sroREG.htm

For a complete Start List of invited athletes see: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/spring8k/pdf/modo8k-elites-16.pdf