Pembertons Kevin Titus, the fastest Master class runner in B.C., became the fastest Master in Canada after winning the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Toronto last weekend.
Titus crossed the finish line of the eight-kilometre course in 26 minutes and 47 seconds, almost 20 seconds ahead of Mike Dyon of Etobicoke, Ontario. Two other B.C. runners, Rob Longeran and Art Boileau finished third and fourth, helping the B.C. team to finish second overall behind Ontario.
More impressive than the first place medal is the competition Titus beat out to get it: Boileau is a former Olympic runner who once ran a two hour 10 minute marathon; Longeran has competed in the world cross country championship six different times.
"Those guys made it very competitive," says Titus.
More than 170 racers, representing all 10 provinces, participated in the Masters event.
"The course was great," says Titus. "The course was flat and dry, the weather was beautiful. I felt really good going in, and got off to a great start."
Titus started off in the lead and stayed with a pack of five other runners for the first couple of kilometres. Slowly, Titus began to pull ahead until he had an 80-metre lead heading into the finish line.
"Im glad I didnt have to battle the whole way. I was getting tired by the end of the race, and didnt want to have to sprint it out to the finish."
Not that he let up: "Its also a team race, so I wanted to finish as strongly as I could to put the team ahead. We were against Ontario the whole day and I wanted to win."
Kevin Titus, 44, was accompanied by his sons, Morgan and Joren Titus, both 17, who moved up to the Junior division in the provincial championships in order to qualify for the nationals. Joren finished sixth in B.C., earning a berth on the national team, while Morgan just missed getting on with an eighth-place finish.
Joren got sick in the week leading up to the nationals and on race day he was force to drop out. Morgan took the open spot and finished 41 st out of 148 racers, many of whom were two years older and had been to the nationals before.
Kevin credits their strong finishes to the late winter in Whistler.
"The training conditions were just amazing, we were out running together almost every night leading up to this," says Kevin. "The lack of snow was no fun for the skiers, but for runners it was great."
Since there is no international championship for Masters runners, the season is over for Kevin. Next year he plans to be back, and says both of his sons have seen the best in Canada and are determined to get there next year.