With the sound of the announcer calling in the 8K runners in the background, those racing in today's 42-kilometre Royal Victoria Marathon got off to an energetic start.
Minutes before the race, runners took team photos, hopped around in place to the music, rubbed their hands together in the brisk morning air and focused on the START sign, knowing the next banner they run under won't be for several hours.
Racers in wheelchair took off a few minutes before 8:30 a.m. and were followed by a thick pack of marathoners taking part in the 30th edition of the annual race.
"Although we're known as the City of Gardens, today is not the day to stop and smell the flowers," Mayor Dean Fortin said before counting the 12,492 runners down.
Allen Gledhill, 72, is running the marathon for the second time. He ran in the Winnipeg marathon in June and came in first in his age class.
"There's a lot more retired people here so there's a lot of competition," said the retired businessman from Langford.
He started running in 1974 to lose weight and he's been getting marathons under his belt ever since, saying he never intended to let age stop him.
"I have five grandkids so they'll be out chearing grandpa on," he said, joking that he's in better shape than his two kids.
"The grandkids look up to you more if you do that sort of thing than if you are sitting in front of the couch watching TV."
Gledhill is hoping to finish the marathon in between four hours and four hours 20 minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Brandon Trent, 25, managed to make it here from Vancouver yesterday for the marathon despite a hectic weekend at the Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay B.C. Ferries terminals. A generator fire put the Spirit of the Vancouver Island out of commission on Friday at the start of the long weekend.
"That was a little bit of a hoo-ha," he said, noting he had to wait two sailings to walk on the ferry. But when he did get to Victoria yesterday, he drove the course to familiarize himself with the landscape of his first marathon.
Trent has done several half marathons and intended to do the half marathon here but it was full so he decided to go for the 42-kilometre race..
"I'm very excited," Trent said. "The sun's out, it's not raining, you couldn't ask for a more gorgeous day.
Trent said his first goal is to finish and his second goal is to finish in three hours and 30 minutes, to qualify for the Boston.
"I know I can run, it's just a matter of how well."
The course was lined with cheering family members and friends, snapping pictures and waving in support as the runners flew by.
Kate Osborne from Seattle has "GO KATE" written on her thighs and the words bounce around as the keeps herself warm before the race.
"My sister wrote it," said the 32-year-old running in her third marathon, her first in Victoria. "She's my cheerleader."
Osborne said her sister, Leslie Mills, had sticky notes with motivational sayings taped to the hotel room mirror and made her a mystery playlist for her iPod to keep her pumped up as she runs.
"I know she put some Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, maybe U2, anything that's fast."
The eight kilometre race and half marathon kicked off at 7:30 a.m. and runners started crossing the finish line in front of the legislature on Belleville Street before 8 a.m.
Andrew Robb, 21, was dripping with sweat and draped in a white plastic cape for warmth but was glad to have finished his first half marathon just after 9 a.m.
The varsity golf player from Vancouver decided to run the race with his mom and sister, who he was set to meet at the finish line.
He finished in one hour 34 minutes and said "for my first one, it's OK."
He said the toughest part was the 17-kilometre mark up the hill through Uplands. "It's tough, you just have to fight through it," Robb said.
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