Daniel Kipkoech and Paul Kimugul were the last to arrive but the first to finish in the 37th GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.
The earlier downpours broke and a cool, dry and pleasant fall Sunday morning greeted the 8,448 participants who created a ribbon of humanity that wound its way through the streets of Victoria.
Kenyans Kipkoech and Kimugul did not get into town until late Saturday night because of missed or delayed flights. But that hardly hindered their progress as they got what rest they could and awoke to capture the men’s marathon and half-marathon titles, respectively.
Kipkoech won his third consecutive Victoria marathon championship in two hours, 20 minutes, 33 seconds along a course that wound its way through James Bay, downtown, Dallas Road, Oak Bay, Uplands and back to the finish line on Belleville in front of the legislature.
“I am going to run 2:10 one day here in Victoria,” vowed Kipkoech, a native of Kenya and based out of Lethbridge the past four years. He has 2013 champion Lamech Mokono’s Victoria course record of 2:13:42 in his long-term sights.
“People are so supportive here and were cheering me along on the roads. I dream of one day running for Canada in the Olympics.”
The 29-year-old described the conditions Sunday as “perfect.”
Which is more than can be said for the travel.
“I missed a flight and was stuck six hours in Calgary airport [Saturday] night, so there was a bit of fatigue this morning.”
Not that you would notice, as Kipkoech blew away the men’s marathon field.
“Daniel [Kipkoech] went out like crazy . . . it was like a time trial,” said second-place finisher Brian Andrews of Vancouver, who was across in a personal-best but distant 2:29:00.
Andrews was running solo and well clear of third-place James Desalvo (2:35:05).
Sabrina Wilkie of Vancouver, racing just her first marathon, won the women’s title in 2:45:54 and was an impressive sixth overall. She crossed the finish line and immediately went to hug her 1 1/2-year-old son Rafael and husband Mark, who was third Sunday in the men’s 8K race.
“We switch off at the track and take turns watching Rafael while the other trains,” said Wilkie, of the family running routine.
Kimugul won the men’s half-marathon championship in 1:07:19 to successfully defend his title from 2015.
“I basically didn’t even get a chance to warm up,” said Kimugul, after arriving late Saturday following flight delays from Nairobi to Amsterdam to Vancouver to Victoria.
If it was a pick-up Kimugul needed to get over the jet lag, he got it.
“The fans were fantastic today along the course,” he said. “This is my third time racing here and I love the people of Victoria. They are so cheerful and the organizers are wonderful and nice.”
Here for the North American fall road-racing season, Kimugul is headed to run the IMT Des Moines Marathon next weekend in Iowa.
The pro runners criss-cross the continent and globe, chasing prize purses. Total prize money Sunday, including bonuses, was $32,800 for the top finishers.
Jane Murage of Kenya has become well known on these streets — she is the four-time women’s champion of the Times Colonist 10K, which is in April. She is as good in fall as in spring, winning the women’s half-marathon in 1:17:25.
Five of the previous six Victoria half-marathon women’s winners have been Olympians — Lisa Harvey in 2010, Natasha Wodak in 2011 and 2012, Hilary Stellingwerff in 2013 and Malindi Elmore in 2015 — and Murage was happy to join that company on pavement she knows well.
“I was out all by myself and wasn’t really pushed,” she said.
“Many of the streets are familiar to me because of the TC 10K. All along the course today, I heard my name called and people cheering: ‘Go Jane.’ It was like coming home.”
Trevor Hofbauer of Calgary won the men’s 8K in 24:36. Two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon of Victoria, who turns 50 this year, showed he still has it by placing sixth in 26:27. Lindsay Carson of Whitehorse won the women’s 8K in 27:35.
Terry Slater of Sooke became the only person to have completed all 37 Victoria marathon races. Ken Bonner, who with Slater had raced the previous 36, had to bow out this year because of an upcoming hip replacement. But Bonner kept his streak alive of at least being part of the race in some capacity. Organizers anointed Bonner the honourary lead cyclist at the head of the marathon.
Among the runners from 22 nations were more than 300 looking to post qualifying times for the 2017 Boston Marathon in April 2017.
The final registration numbers show there were 1,346 in the marathon, 3,309 in the half-marathon, 2,612 in the 8K, 1,046 in the children’s run and 135 in the relay.
Everybody had their own reasons for participating.
A group of friends from Parksville — Michael Briones, Francia Heatcoat and Alma Miranda — high-fived at the finish line after completing the half-marathon.
“I had a back injury, so finishing the race was the most important thing for me, and for my recovery,” said Briones.
Bob Vander Steen, with Walktoria, crossed the half-marathon finish line wearing a T-shirt reading: “Old Guys Rule.”
“There were good conditions out there . . . and all the training paid off,” said Vander Steen.