For her 29th birthday Sunday, Jane Murage received a brand-new watch, a surprise rendition of Happy Birthday from organizers and friends of the Times Colonist 10K Race and many congratulatory mentions from fans along the route on a cool, cloudy morning.
Oh yeah, the Kenyan police officer also received the top prize of $2,000 for claiming her fourth straight TC 10K victory, a feat that's never been accomplished by either a male or female competitor over the 27-year history of the run.
Murage completed the course in 33 minutes and 45 seconds, just two seconds ahead of hard-charging Emily Setlack of Cold Lake, Alta. who, as the top Canadian, added a $1,000 bonus to her $1,000 runner-up finish.
Lindsey Scherf of Mountain View, Calif., was third in 34:20, ahead of Lenah Jerotich of Kenya (34:45) and Victoria’s own Lucy Smith, fifth in 35:59. Smith — a six-time winner of the event, but never with four in a row — did top the masters’ women’s field on this day.
Daniel Kipkoech led a field of top six Kenyans on the men’s side in a time of 29 minutes and 42 seconds, ahead of Christopher Cheruiyot (29:48), Solomon Rotich (30:05), Paul Kimugul (30:06), Leonard Kipkoech (30:46) and Willy Kimosop (31:15). Shoayb Bascal, of the UVic Vikes, was the top Canadian in seventh in 31:21.
“This is like the best day of my life. Winning this day is just like a present to me,” said Murage, who broke away from the pack about eight kilometers in. “I felt good because it was my birthday and I wanted to win.
“I love this race,” added the smiling Murage, who calls the TC 10K her favourite run in North America. “I love Victoria. I love the people and I heard my name, ‘Go Jane, go.’ It’s just perfect. The cheering -—people calling out my name, ‘Jane, Jane, Jane’ — I felt strong.”
As did Setlack, who opted to run without a watch to keep pace of her time.
“I really surprised myself. I didn’t think I was capable of doing that,” said Setlack, who improved her personal best, which she had previously recorded at last week’s Vancouver Sun Run, by 15 seconds. “I really just raced and kept my eyes in front of me.
“I remained there neck-and-neck with the group, but Jane is a very talented runner and she took off in the last two kilometres. I managed to come back, though,” said Setlack, who now focuses on the Canadian half-marathon championship in Calgary at the end of May.
There was also a sprint for third among the men as Rotich managed to overtake Kimugul just at the finish line.
“I found that my pace was not comfortable [early],” said Rotich, who moved up from fifth.
The Kenyans were in a pack for the first five kilometres and it was at the six-kilometre mark, along a windy Dallas Road, that it broke apart with Kipkoech, Kimugul and Cheruiyot leading the way until Rotich legged out the last stretch.
“Coming back was very windy, too much wind [on Dallas Road],” said the men’s champion, Daniel Kipkoech, who won the Goodlife Victoria marathon in 2014 and 2015 and finished sixth last week at the Vancouver Sun Run. “Today, I’m happy because last week, I made a mistake.
“Today was a tactical race and I pushed the last two kilometres. That was my plan and it worked and that’s why I am so happy. Last week, I ran the first 2K too quick and the last 5K I was finished, so today I made a different plan.
“I just said, ‘Let me wait for my time to go.’ I told myself to be patient and then go,” added Kipkoech, who was running the TC 10K for the first time.
In other notable finishes, Victoria’s Jim Finlayson topped the men’s masters field at 32:07, three seconds back of UVic’s Ben Weir who was third among the Canadian men behind his Vikes teammate Bascal and Terence Attema of Abbotsford. Attema was eighth overall and Weir 10th.
Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell was the first to cross the line on the day in the wheelchair race in an unofficial 28:20.
A total of 9.474 racers began the day, including 936 in the Thrifty Foods Family Run. Final numbers on how many finished were not available at press time.
The total prize money was $13,500 with $2,000 to the men’s and women’s winners, $1,000 for second, $500 for third, $250 for fourth and $125 for fifth. Top Canadians earned $1,000.