The headwind along Dallas Road was stubborn. But Daniel Kipkoech was more so.
The 29-year-old Kenyan head-butted the head wind into submission Sunday in winning the Times Colonist 10K for the second consecutive year.
That he cracked 30 minutes against such an obstacle, and was across in 29 minutes and 59 seconds, is impressive.
It was brilliant and sunny, but the conditions were not optimum for running because of the wind along the waterfront.
“It was windy and chilly in the morning,” said Kipkoech.
“But the fans cheering me along the course made me feel strong.”
It was Kipkoech’s fifth championship in a Victoria race, to go with his Times Colonist 10 K victory last year in 29:42 and his three consecutive titles in the Victoria GoodLife Fitness Marathon in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“I love this place and racing here,” said Kipkoech.
Kipkoech was also third last weekend amid the heaving humanity of the massive Vancouver Sun Run.
Fellow Kenyan Paul Kimugul, the 2013 champion and three-time winner of the Sun Run, was second Sunday in 30:29. University of Victoria Vikes runner Shoayb Bascal was third in 31:09 in a shoulder-to-shoulder race to the line with Matthew Travaglini of Calgary.
The women’s winner of the 28th edition of the Times Colonist 10K was Dayna Pidhoresky of Windsor, Ont., who was across in 33:43.
“I was smiling into the wind,” said the 30-year-old, who trains in Vancouver.
“Well, maybe not smiling . . . maybe more grimacing. It was tough with the headwind.”
The win was Pidhoresky’s fifth of the season and followed up her victory last weekend in the Montreal Half-Marathon. Others this spring were the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, Ont., and the First Half-Marathon and St. Patrick’s Day Run in Vancouver. She hopes to make the Canadian marathon team for the world championships.
Specializing in longer distances, Pidhoresky noted: “I’m not really a 10K runner at the moment.”
You couldn’t tell that from her performance, which ended the reign of four-year defending Times Colonist 10K women’s champion Jane Murage of Kenya. Murage, who had to drop out of the Sun Run last weekend in Vancouver because of a knee injury, was still not 100 per cent, but she accepted her third-place Victoria finish with grace.
“I was not fit, but I tried my best,” said a game Murage, who clocked 34:40. “But I’m still happy with third place because last week I could not finish the Sun Run. This is still my favourite 10K in North America because the people are so nice and it is a happy place.”
Emily Setlack of Cold Lake, Alta., who has represented Canada at the IAAF world cross-country championships, was second in Victoria for a second consecutive year. Her 34:02 followed up her personal best of 33:44 in placing fourth last week in the Sun Run.
Hilary Stellingwerff of Victoria, a two-time Olympian in the 1,500 metres from London 2012 and Rio 2016, was fourth in 34:58 to follow up her sixth place in the Sun Run last weekend.
But Sunday belonged to Pidhoresky. “The last time I raced the Victoria 10K, I had to drop out [due to an injury during the race], and I told myself that was not an option this year,” she said, recalling her 2014 race here.
As usual, many of the most compelling stories were in the pack that followed the elite racers.
Ten-month-old Brooklyn Gurney was pushed across the line in a stroller by dad Shaun Gurney in a commendable 51:30. They were part of an 11-member group called MK-4, mostly Gorge FC soccer players, who were running in memory of their late friend Marcus Karpati, who died of cancer four years ago.
“The soccer/hockey fitness came through,” said Shaun Gurney, running his first 10K. And there were no complaints, or even squeals, from little Brooklyn.
“She was awesome,” said her dad.
The official turnout, including the Thrifty Foods 1.5K Family Fun Run, was 8,679, of which 7,947 ran the 10K. That was down from last year’s total of 9,474.
Participation has been slipping in recent years; in 2011, there were 13,086 runners registered.
The drop follows a trend across North America. Several factors have caused this, including the growth of triathlons and off-road obstacle races.
Joe Dixon, first-year race director of the Times Colonist 10K, said he does not believe the continental running craze has crested and is ebbing.
“Our goal is to increase this race back to the 10,000 mark,” he said.