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Numbers rebounding strongly for 1990s-themed 35th TC10K

Community events continue to emerge from out of the shadow of the pandemic, with the Times Colonist 10K a leading example
Runners set off in last year’s TC 10K. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

It was a decade in which Island athletes competed for Canada in the Summer Olympics in Barcelona and, of all places, Atlanta while Victoria hosted the Commonwealth Games. Braveheart, Good Will Hunting and Shawshank Redemption were on movie screens, Coolio was singing about a Gangsta’s Paradise while guests at wedding receptions were doing the Macarena.

On the streets of the capital, runners in 1990 began pounding out what would be the first of many kilometres over three and a half decades of the Times Colonist 10K. Fittingly, the 1990s are the theme of the 35th TC 10K Powered By RunSport next Sunday with that decade reflected in the design of the run T-shirts and medals, and in the music that will be played by two bands along the route performing at Ogden Point and at Memorial Crescent and Dallas Road.

Community events — in arts, entertainment and sports — continue to emerge from out of the shadow of the pandemic, with the Times Colonist 10K a leading example.

This year’s race is expected to attract about 9,000 participants, from duffers to Olympians, along a picturesque course from Government to Wharf to Yates to Cook to Richardson to Moss to May to Memorial to Dallas Road to Erie and back down Belleville to the start-finish line.

That is up from the 7,500 last year and the 5,500 in the first race after the pandemic in 2022. The 2020 race was cancelled due to COVID-19 and the 2021 event was held virtually.

“You can see the upward trend,” said Mark deFrias, producer of the Times Colonist 10K event. “People are returning to participate in community events and looking more and more for things to do in larger group settings.”

Road runs — the TC10K in the spring and Royal Victoria Marathon in the fall are the two major Island bookends — have become integral parts of civic vibrancy in cities around the world with the kind of healthy, Spandex-clad demographic any city would want pounding the pavement in its downtown core.

The pandemic cancellations hit those sorts of mass-participation events hard, but the road back to hitting the road in sneakers has been steadily on the rise, as the growing TC 10K numbers attest. As does today’s expected throng of 45,000 runners, walkers and rollers for the massive Vancouver Sun Run.

“It’s a bounce back from COVID in a big way,” said Chris Kelsall, who is in charge of the elite section of the Times Colonist 10K.

Kelsall is also president and general manager of the Island Race Series, in which 6,000 registered for the eight races this spring .

“We are noticing an influx of newer runners. I am receiving a lot of really elementary questions about road-running, which is good.”

It’s healthy for a community in not only body but other ways.

“These races are part of the fabric that makes a community,” said deFrias.

“It brings people together and creates a vibe showing what a downtown should be like.”

At the elite end, defending champion Thomas Nobbs should be favoured in an again sub-30 minutes clocking in the men’s race. Christine Bant, Jennifer Erickson and Carly Gering are favoured in the women’s race and expected across in 30 to 35 minutes.

Defending 2023 women’s champion Dayna Pidhoresky was also the back-to-back female winner of the race in 2017 and 2018 and Malindi Elmore of Kelowna was second in 2019. Pidhoresky and Elmore both represented Canada in the marathon in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Elmore has again qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics while Pidhoresky will miss this year’s TC 10K as she is in Hamburg for the last-chance Olympic marathon qualifier for Paris.

Other past winners of the Times Colonist 10K have included, from the Island, Olympic track medallist Angela Chalmers, three-time Olympian Debbie Scott and two-time Olympic marathoner Bruce Deacon.

More than 500 volunteers are involved in organizing this year’s TC10K.

Online registration is open until next Saturday at 2 p.m. at Package pick-up and in-person registration is on the main street in Uptown on Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration fees are $65 for the 10K and $25 for the 1.5K Family Fun Run.

The 10K will begin in waves next Sunday with the elites taking off at 7:55 a.m., the next tier racers at 8:15 a.m. and the walkers at 8:55 a.m. The 1.5K kids’ run is at 11 a.m.

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