Kenya’s Daniel Kipkoech won the 39th GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon on Sunday, his fifth consecutive win on a course that makes him feel like he’s at home.
“When I come here I really like it, it’s like home,” said Kipkoech. “It’s where I won my first marathon.”
Kipkoech, who lives in Lethbridge, Alta., won the marathon with a time of 2:22:39. He said the light rain caused the course to be slippery, making the race “tough,” but he credits the cheering crowds for motivating him and keeping him “strong.”
"I like the fans. They kept saying: ‘Daniel keep going, that was good,’” said Kipkoech. “I was focused on my win today because I don’t want to let the fans down, these fans like me and I don’t want to let them down."
Kipkoech is training for the Olympics: “I am hoping for 2020.”
The women's marathon winner was Emily Setlack, of Cold Lake, Alta., in a time of 2:46:20. Setlack said keeping positive was her ticket to the win.
“I’m just happy I pushed myself,” said Setlack, of racing her second marathon. Setlack found the rolling hills a challenge but said it was the crowd that helped her through. “It lifted me up, it was really helpful.”
Setlack said she is more pleased with her effort than her win, adding she was honoured to be in a race with so many other powerful female athletes.
Her mantra through the race: “I think you have to stay positive and believe in yourself because if you let negative thoughts creep in it’s kinda over, so you have to be patient and keep positive as much as you can.”
Victoria's own Jim Finlayson was the comeback story of the marathon, breaking the masters course record and the Canadian record for the men’s 45-49 age group in 2:25:29. It was his first marathon since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009.
“It feels really good,” said Finlayson.
“There were a lot of doubts, for sure. I went through a lot of stages, feeling pretty heavy-legged for awhile and then starting to get a second wind,” he said.
Along the course, fans could be heard shouting: “Jim, Jim.”
“It was pretty exceptional,” said Finlayson. “It feels good being home and around this crowd.”
In the half-marathon, Trevor Hofbauer of Calgary won in 1:05:18.
Hofbauer was understated about his achievement: “I was just focused on getting a good workout in. There wasn’t any key to winning, I just wanted to run strong.”
Meanwhile, Natasha Wodak of Vancouver had a unique motivation to “crush” her own half-marathon record with a time of 1:11:45.
Wodak, who divorced in 2013, said she was thrilled to win under her maiden name, having set the course record of 1:14:06 in Victoria in 2012 under her married surname, Fraser.
“I was very happy to take that name out of the record books,” said Wodak.
“It was a good day, great course,” said Wodak, who said she focused on running her own race and not starting out too fast. “It worked well and I finished strong.”
“I cannot believe the amount of support on the course. You come back while all the marathoners and half-marathoners are going out and all the women are just screaming at me: ‘Go lady,’” said Wodak. “I was trying to wave [back] at all of them.”
Wodak also called the course slippery with the rain that fell throughout all of the day’s race, but said Victoria is a special place.
“They put on a great race,” said Wodak. “The course is very scenic. It has a little bit of everything for elites and just everyone who wants to come out and have a good race, or come to Victoria, take in the scenery, have some food and enjoy the city.”
In the men’s 8K, last year’s winner Justin Kent of Burnaby came first in a time of 23:46.
On the women’s side, Sarah Inglis, a Scot now living in Langley, won in 27:31. While others found the course hilly, Inglis found it “actually quite flat.”
“I felt like most of the day it was kind of downhill actually,” Inglis said. “It’s a beautiful course. I’ll definitely come back. It’s so picturesque even in the rain.”
The top 10 male marathoners were: Daniel Kipkoech; Mizael Carrera, Ryan Smith; Kyle Mena; Jim Finlayson (Victoria); Dan Sloat; Ian Fraser; Robert Bond; Adam Buzinksy (Victoria); and David Fort.
The top 10 female marathoners were: Emily Setlack; Karissa LePage; Andrea Lee; Catrin Jones (Victoria); Ashley Mena; Kathryn Drew; Suzy Slane; Tara Risling; Sandra Moeko; and Elizabeth Swiggum (Victoria).
There were 7,989 racers registered for the events: 1,339 for the marathon; 3,266 for the half-marathon; 2,384 for the 8K; and 1,000 for the Thrifty Foods Kids Run. It was almost exactly the same registration number as last year, said spokeswoman Louise Hodgson-Jones.
The rain for Sunday’s run varied from light to miserable, but elite runners said they were grateful for the lack of wind, one of the biggest factors affecting performance.
Find results here.