The more distance there is to cover, the better Catrin Jones gets.
Jones opted to take the leap up to the 50-mile (80-kilometre) distance at the Whistler 50 Ultra on Saturday (Oct. 17). The Victoria runner made the most of it, setting a new women's course record by busting Jenn Segger's old mark by six minutes and 30 seconds.
All told, Jones crossed the finish line in six hours, 24 minutes and 50 seconds (6:24:50) to capture the women's crown a week after running her hometown Victoria Marathon where she won her age group and was third overall among women.
"I really came with no expectations, having run the Victoria Marathon last Sunday," she said. "I'd always wanted to do this 50-mile (race). I'd done it in the relay but I'd never done it solo. I figured I'd give it a shot."
Acknowledging she didn't know what the course record was coming into the race, Jones had an idea of the time she hoped to hit — and she didn't quite make it.
"I would have liked to have been a bit quicker even than that, but again, (it's my) first time running it just after a marathon, so I'm really pleased with that and a course record — I'll take it," she said.
Jones said the longer distances are just part of a natural progression as she improves as a runner.
"Over the years I've gotten better and better," she said. "The longer I'm out there, the more comfortable I get. It's up my alley."
Jones explained the Whistler Half-Marathon, where she won the 10-kilometre event this year, is one of her favourite events and she appreciated the chance to come back up the Sea to Sky and try to win once again.
She faced some minor obstacles to victory, but never felt overly threatened.
"I had a really steady race. I didn't falter mentally. I was really good. The last loop at one point, I had a little bit of pain in my outer thigh so I backed off. I didn't want to do anything stupid and aggravate anything," she said.
Kelowna's Melanie Bos, the 2012 champion, and Vancouver's Tara Berry rounded out the top three for the women.
On the men's side, Jesse Booi of Vancouver crossed the finish line six minutes and 40 seconds (6:40) ahead of Jones to take the men's title. Booi made his debut in the event and was pleased, overall, with his result after entering the day, like Jones, without expecting a whole lot.
"It was awesome. It was a really good day. I wasn't expecting to do that well, but the weather was good and the nutrition kept up," he said. "(The course) was a lot more rolling than I expected instead of being dead flat, which kept you more in the zone. I was picturing it would be flat, but there were quite a bit of rolling hills and beautiful terrain. I liked the mix of road and trail (running).
"There were a few hills that were a little bigger than I thought they were going to be," he added.
The victory comes near the close of a season that started roughly for Booi, as he was recovering from a meniscus injury for the first seven months of the year.
"I ended up doing a few races and they went pretty well. The second half of the season has been great. I think this might be the ender and now it's time to take some time off to drink some beer and eat some food," said Booi, who runs with the Fraser Street Run Club in Vancouver and invited members of the public to come run with him every Friday night if they're in town. "(The injury) has been a little bit (of an issue), but there have been no super flare-ups, knock on wood. It's been OK."
Last year's champion, Roy Kok, was hampered by cramping but still came through with a time of 6:40:20. Victoria's Glenn Jasechko placed third among men.
Kok said he was happy with his performance until the last time around, where the cramping started to set in.
"I cramped up on the fourth lap. I was running 1:20 splits and I was going for a sub-6:10 but on the fourth lap, my hamstring cramped," he said. "It was full-on, screaming on the side of the sidewalk agony. Jesse passed me at that point, tried to stop because he's a really nice guy, but I made him keep going. I tried to catch up to him and I cramped again. I had to slow down. I didn't have a choice."
As for the relay, Royal Flush #2 of Vancouver took the win in 4:43:20, Mountain Mamas were second in 5:06:11 and Muscle Milk was third in 5:06:27.
Full results are online at www.startlinetiming.com/en/races/2015/whistler50/event/Ultra.
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