There were some familiar faces atop the podium at the 2016 Whistler Half Marathon on Saturday, with two former winners once again besting the field.
The overall winner was Victoria’s Jim Finlayson with a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 12 seconds (1:12:12), beating out second-place finisher and top Whistler runner Pete Sammon by a full nine minutes. Finlayson, running in the 40-44 age group, is no stranger to the race, having competed in 2011 and 2015, earning gold both times.
Finlayson admitted to struggling through the latter portion of the race, clocking in 10 minutes behind his 2015 finish time.
“There a lot of longer hills in the first 8K and I felt like that really beat me up,” he said. “I suffered over the last 13K. I felt generally pretty good but couldn’t really generate the extra power this year.”
Always a challenging race, Finlayson said it’s not the steep, hilly terrain that proved the biggest hurdle, but the winding course that makes it difficult to get a steady rhythm.
“You’re probably looking at two-and-a-half minutes longer than your typical marathon course,” he noted. “It’s the hills but also the changes in momentum; there are a lot of turns on it. A lot of false flats as well. I find it hard to get a lot of rhythm out there.”
Another Victoria native, Marilyn Arsenault, was the top female runner and eighth overall, finishing with a time of 1:24:40. Vancouver’s Heather Dart was the second fastest woman, coming in at 1:31:55. The top local runner was Pemberton’s Merrily Harris, who recorded a time of 1:41:45.
Arsenault didn’t specifically train for this year’s half-marathon distance, which she said could have been a factor in falling three minutes behind her gold-medal finish in 2015.
“I didn’t get as many long-tempo runs in before doing this to really feel good in the race,” she said. “It is a tough race if you haven’t specifically trained for this distance.”
The 48-year-old is gearing up for her first New York City Marathon in November, and said the Whistler course is a great way to get the training season started on the right foot.
“You’re not going to run a (personal best) time on this course but it’s a really good training course for any half marathon,” she said. “If you run full out, you’ll run really well on a flat course a few weeks later. It’s a good preview race for something else.”
Arsenault also applauded organizers for putting together another terrific race.
“(Race director) Dave (Clark) puts on an amazing event. I can’t believe more people don’t do it because it’s just a beautifully run event,” she said.
For the full results, visit www.whistlerhalfmarathon.com/results.html.
Pick up this Thursday’s edition of Pique for more on the 2016 Whistler Half Marathon.