VANCOUVER. March 24. Lethbridge’s Kip Kangogo and Athletics Toronto’s Kate Van Buskirk got Canada Running Series 2013 off to a flying start with convincing victories in today’s Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K, the first event of the new season. Just over 1,000 runners took off at 10am for a clockwise circumnavigation of the world-famous Stanley Park Seawall, under ideal running conditions: 6 degrees, overcast with some sunny breaks and zero wind. Kangogo, who finished 2nd overall to Reid Coolsaet in the 2012 Series Overall Standings, successfully defended his title here, with a 24:23 victory. Van Buskirk, made a rare cameo appearance on the roads before returning to the track. She crossed the line in front of the Stanley Park Pavilion in 27:40. It was Springtime in Canada’s most-famous park today, complete with daffodils, hyacinths, catkins and pussy-willows, plus a palpable energy that conveyed the feelings of rejuvenation, of pent-up enthusiasms breaking out from another Northern winter.
It was another command performance by the wily Kenyan-Canadian veteran, Kangogo, who followed an identical script to last year. From the Start he remained content to sit in with David Jackson of Abbotsford and Point Grey TFCs Sam Pawluk, before moving up a gear at the 3K mark, and gradually floating away as they passed Siwash Rock and under the Lions Gate Bridge. By the Finish he had opened up a 25 second gap over Jackson, with Pawluk a further 26 seconds back. “It was a perfect race for me. And perfect weather,” said Kangogo. “I just wanted to get the season off to a good start with Canada Running Series. The first 3k I just wanted to warm up. Then at 3k I wanted to shake things up a bit. That was the plan. After that, I was just enjoying the ocean and moving. I’m looking forward to the season, and to the crazy-fast Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 21st.”
As the class of the women’s field, Van Buskirk moved to the front from the outset and never looked back. “This was only my second 8K ever,” said the 1500m track runner. “The race was great. It was my first for three and a half months, since the National Cross Country Championships in Vancouver last November. It is a great time to start the season, and a great test of fitness. My plan was just to feel out the other women in the first half, then press on in the second half. But with that downhill start, it’s a fast first kilometre – I went through around 3:15, and sometimes it’s a bit hard to rein in that 1500m speed! I didn’t see any of the other women after that. Some of the men pulled me along, and in the end I ran pretty even splits. The scenery was gorgeous in the middle of the race – I had to stop looking at the mountains and keep telling myself, ‘focus’!” Van Buskirk plans to take a run at Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K in High Park, Toronto next, her regular training grounds (April 6th). After that, “we’ll be going back to the track, to Mt. Sac and Payton Jordan, then some local meets, then the NTL, hopefully to get a qualifying standard for the World Championships in Moscow this summer.”
Behind Van Buskirk, Vancouver’s Sabrina Wilkie continues to improve, turning the tables on last year’s winner, Lisa Harvey of Calgary. Last Spring, Wilkie was 2nd overall to the veteran Olympian, Harvey, but just got by her today, finishing in 28:22 and 28:29, respectively. Wilkie’s run today was a 46 second improvement over her 2012 performance. The evergreen Harvey, who ran the 10,000m for Canada in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and is now 43 years old, continues to impress. She fought tough to the end today, and it was a treat to see her still battling strong, with husband Paul McCloy cheering her onto 3rd overall and Masters Women’s title.
It was a great start to a new CRS season in a marvellous, iconic venue. With today’s results from Vancouver, Poland and Hamilton, these are good times for Canadian distance running. The 2013 season promises something special, and lots to look forward to. Next stop, High Park!
Complete Race Results and Photos: CanadaRunningSeries.com.