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Vincent Pagot claims Whistler Half Marathon win

Runner approached the race as a 'training run' ahead of the upcoming Long Distance Mountain Running Championships
LUCK OF THE DRAW: North Vancouver's Vincent Pagot (third from left) won the 2018 Whistler Half Marathon after the leader lost his way on course.

When Vincent Pagot was approaching the finish line of the 2018 Whistler Half Marathon, he expected to be the second runner to cross it.

"All the way I knew I was second, with a big gap behind the first. I was just doing my own race, trying to stay maybe on the podium. All the way to the finish I just fought to stay second. But then I saw a tape across the finish line and was like, 'Oh, I'm first, that's weird,'" recalled the North Vancouver runner, who chalked up the win to "luck."

As it turns out, Adam Way, last year's Whistler half-marathon winner, lost his way somewhere on the course. He ended up finishing in fourth place, just under three minutes behind Pagot's winning time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and 34 seconds.

"My best half marathon is 1:20 on (a) flat (course), so I knew I would be around that time. Knowing all of the previous results, I knew maybe I'd have a chance to be third, fourth-somewhere in the top five. But technically 1:21, you don't win with that time. I was just lucky," Pagot said.

"I pushed pretty hard, to see what I could do, (but) I wasn't going for the win at all."

This year marked Pagot's second time running the Whistler Half after competing five years ago. "That was my first-ever race when I started training for it and really running."

Since then, he's focused most of his attention on ultramarathons and trail running, to much success: in three weeks, Pagot will represent Canada when he competes at the World Mountain Running Association's Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, a 36-kilometre race in Poland.

"I came today more as like a training run, and it went okay I guess," he said. "Today was more like a workout to see how I feel, and just get excited for Poland."

Pagot was followed by Vancouverite Paul Blazey, who crossed the finish line 45 seconds later to earn second place. Just over one minute behind Pagot was third-place runner Joel Bryan of Victoria.

On the women's side, Victoria's Care Nelson took the top prize (and 10th overall) with her time of 1:30.02. She was followed by Vancouverites Christine Eugster, who crossed the finish line one minute and 45 seconds later to earn second place, and Jenn Kirker clocking in at 1:33:06 to take third.

Cameron Savage was the fastest local runner amongst the over 700 half-marathon finishers, with his time of 1:30:57.

This year marked the second installment of the 30-kilometre race, after that distance made its debut in Whistler's race day offerings last year.

Ulrich Stiedl, a 10-time Seattle Marathon champion, made the drive up from Washington state to win the 30K event with a time of 1:53:07, six minutes and 34 seconds ahead of Vancouver's Alistair Kealty, who took second place. Richard Hayes of Ottawa rounded out the podium with his time of 2:02:28.

The top local finisher in the 30K distance was Mark O'Connor, who completed the race in 2:05:42 to take fourth place.

Victoria's Catrin Jones (the women's record holder in the both the Whistler half and 10-km events) was the fastest runner in the women's 30K category, finishing in 2:07:13 to take fifth overall. Trisha Steidl from Seattle followed, finishing in 2:12:57 to claim second.

Whistler's Claire Daniels, who won last year's inaugural 30K event, placed third with her time of 2:20:09.

Meanwhile in the shorter distance events, Matu Kirilak of Snina, Slovakia finished the 10K in 39:46 to claim first, while Calgary's Emily Spencer crossed the finish line in 41:53 to top the women's field.

In the five-kilometre race, Whistlerite Torren Davis claimed first in the men's race in 19:03, while fellow local Saori Mizuguchi crossed the finish line 22 seconds later to win the women's category.

In addition to the 737 runners who crossed the signature half-marathon finish line, 107 runners successfully tackled the 30K course, while 495 finished the 10K and the 5K drew 232 finishers, according to raceday timing services.

"We've got one of our biggest registrations ever, so we're super excited about that," race director Dave Clark told Pique last week. "We're really excited about having another great big event."

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