Victoria runners emerge at half marathon 

Finlayson, Arsenault win 21.1-km race

click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Sweet souvenir Marilyn Arsenault holds onto the finish-line ribbon after winning the women's race at The North Face Whistler Half Marathon on June 6.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • Sweet souvenir Marilyn Arsenault holds onto the finish-line ribbon after winning the women's race at The North Face Whistler Half Marathon on June 6.

A new Victorian era started to entrench itself at The North Face Whistler Half Marathon on June 6.

Three of the four overall winners hailed from the provincial capital, including both 21.1-km race winners — Jim Finlayson and Marilyn Arsenault. The 10-km winner was Catrin Jones of Victoria who repeated her 2014 performance.

Abbotsford's David Jackson was the half-marathon champion last year and took the 10-km race this year.

Jackson now holds both course records for men, as he smashed German runner Jannick Gerland's record, set last year, by two minutes and 43 seconds with a time of 43:04. His half-marathon mark, set last year, remained safe as Finlayson's time of one hour, 11 minutes and 14 seconds was nine seconds off Jackson's pace.

Jones, meanwhile, broke her own women's mark from 2014 by 2:10 as she ran a 39:06. Her half-marathon record from 2013 also remained intact, as Arsenault's 1:21:46 was 85 seconds off the record.

Finlayson said everything set him up well for a good run, from his own well being to the weather, which was on its way to being a scorcher in Whistler.

"My body felt good today," said Finlayson, who finished 1:11 ahead of Arya Bahreini. "I like the warmth as well. It's really nice to run in the warmer weather.

"It's early enough that we're not getting the real heat. The muscles just feel a little bit looser."

The Victorian runners all acknowledged there are more ups and downs included in the course, with Finlayson calling it "the most technical road race (he's) ever done."

Arsenault, meanwhile, wasn't expecting such steep challenges, but still managed to best runner-up Care Nelson by 5:03.

"I didn't prepare," she said with a laugh. "Honestly, I didn't know how hilly it was. The hills definitely were challenging. By 12 kilometres, I definitely felt how hard I had gone in the beginning. I just ran steady up the hills and tried to use some of the downhills to make up some of the time."

Jackson said in the lead-up to the race, he was weighing which distance he should complete. After running a half in his hometown last weekend, though, he opted to tug the reins slightly and go into the shorter distance instead of going all out to launch a title defence. He was in good enough shape, though, to break out to a lead early on and win the race by well over four minutes.

"I wasn't feeling like I was ready for another (half)," he said. "I decided to do the 10 km, but it's still a very tough race because you've got some of the big hills."

Like Jackson, Jones has also been pounding the pavement plenty recently. She ran in the Canadian Long Distance Mountain Running Championships and full marathons in Calgary and Ottawa in May alone, but was fit enough to take part in something less strenuous a little closer to home.

"I recovered quickly, so I was pretty happy with how things went," she said. "I do train half trails, half road and I do target a lot of hill running. I prefer something like this that's a little more varied."

Race director Dave Clark said while registration numbers were down slightly over previous years for the adult portion of the race, the youth movement has been strong with higher numbers than ever for the Little Rippers run.

"It's down slightly overall in the half marathon and the 10 km, but the kids (race) is up," Clark said. "We had about 1,050 (registered) in the half and we had 540 in the 10 km and then 50 in the kids."

Full results are online at


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