David Jackson became The North Face Whistler Half Marathon's first-ever repeat champion, as the Abbotsford runner won the resort race for the second year in a row on Saturday, June 7.
Meanwhile, Vancouver's Anne-Marie Madden won the women's race over the 21.1-kilometre distance, after finishing as the runner-up in 2013.
Catrin Jones, last year's women's half-marathon winner, topped the 10K race on Saturday morning, and Whistler Secondary School exchange student Yannik Gerland was the first men's runner to the line on the shorter route.
Jackson beat his own course-record time from last year, reaching the Whistler Olympic Plaza finish in one hour, 11 minutes, five seconds. He was comfortably ahead of second-place finisher Jevin Monds (1:13:57) for the majority of the race. Aiden Lennie (1:21:12) secured third place.
"It feels good," Jackson said of becoming the event's first two-time champion. "I really enjoy coming here, it's obviously a very beautiful place to come, and it's a challenging course."
Jackson started to put some distance between himself and Monds around the seven-kilometre mark, pulling away after the course's hilliest sections in the first half of the race.
"He was running really well, but then I was able to move away from him after that," Jackson said of Monds.
"It's always nice to win, that's for sure."
Monds, a former middle-distance runner from Alberta, said the hilly sections in the first half of the course started to take their toll on him by the time he reached the halfway point. But Monds, who used to run for the High Point University Panthers in North Carolina, was thrilled to place second in his first appearance at the Whistler Half Marathon.
"It's a good day, and a beautiful course... but a hard run," he said. "Overall, I'm pretty pleased.
"My specialty used to be the 1,500, but over the past couple years I've moved up to 5K, 10K, and now I'm trying to tackle the roads and, one day, a marathon."
At 1:20:33, Madden was the third-fastest runner overall on Saturday while winning the women's half marathon. Her triumphant time put her nearly three minutes ahead of White Rock's Lisa Brooking (1:23:15), while third place belonged to 2012 winner Karen Tulloch (1:25:15).
"I wanted to try and pace well to not crumple on the second half of this course," said Madden. "It's pretty easy to fry your legs and then pay for it. But I think it went OK.
"(In 2013,) I had raced in Colorado on the Monday (before) and was definitely hurting last year, so it felt nicer to be a bit more fresh."
Brooking said she treated Saturday's race as a training event for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon later this month, so a second-place finish was a bonus.
"This race is very humbling because it's a challenging course," she said. "I don't ever expect a personal best on this course, you just have to fight it out.
"I didn't taper for this run... so I knew I wouldn't have fresh legs, so I was hoping a miracle would happen. But that's OK - I just enjoyed the race, and I love coming up here," added Brooking, who has done all four Whistler Half Marathons.
Garibaldi Highlands runner Brenden Rosser (1:23:49) was the quickest Sea to Sky finisher, placing fifth among men and seventh overall. Pemberton's John Teitzel and Whistler's Dean Eggleton also posted top-10 finishes in the men's field. Fellow corridor runners James Newby and Brendan Rivison were 11th and 12th, respectively, while Gary Martin and Marian Treger placed in the top 15.
In the women's race, Whistler's Tara Colpitts was the top local, crossing the line in 1:32:02 to rank seventh among all female finishers. Also from Whistler, Karen Ellott stopped the clock in 1:38:01, finishing 17th.
In the 10K, Jones had dropped down from the half-marathon distance this year as she recovers from an injury that has limited her ability to run . Still, she won the race in 41:16, and is now the Whistler course record-holder in both the half marathon and 10K.
"This is maybe my 10th run of 2014," said Jones, who's been dealing with an ailment to her hip and pelvis. "Literally, my first walk-run was May 2.
"It was nice (to be back). I love this race, I love the event... and I just wanted to be part of it - if I could pull off a run, then great. I had no idea that I'd be able to run decently... so I was pretty conservative the whole way."
Nikki Knapp finished in 43:22 for second place, while the final podium spot went to Marie-Danielle Synnett (44:34).
Seventeen-year-old Gerland, who hails from Germany and recently represented Whistler Secondary at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships, won the men's race in 36:47, beating the old 10K course record by a full minute. The Grade 11 student outlasted Logan Boehmer (37:16) for the win, while Eric Goodwin (39:18) placed third.
"It was pretty hard, and (Boehmer was) a pretty good competitor," said Gerland. "(We were close) the whole way. After Blueberry, when it goes downhill, I ran a little bit away, but he came back after Alta Lake, and it was pretty close until we came into the village."
Gerland added that he had spent plenty of time training for the race, but the difficulty level went up a notch on Saturday.
"In a race, it's so hard," he said.
This year's race saw almost 900 runners complete the half-marathon course, and another 469 finished the 10K.
Full results are posted at www.racedaytiming.ca, and check out Pique on Thursday, June 12 for more on Saturday's run.