Both the men's and women's records for the North Face Whistler Half Marathon were broken on Saturday, which may not seem that unusual for an event that's only in its second year. However, given all the hills and twists and turns from start to finish this was expected to be a slower race — and not the kind of event where runners set personal bests. But that's just what David Palermo of the Vancouver Falcons Athletics Club did on Saturday, posting his personal best half marathon time while shaving eight seconds off the time set by James Finlayson in the inaugural event last season.
Palermo's time was 1:09:17, a full minute and 40 seconds ahead of Squamish's Jason Loutitt. Edward McCarthy of Vancouver was third in 1:11:32.
"That first part was pretty windy and we were all pretty close over Blueberry Hill. When we got to the bike path part that was up and down, up and down, that's where I broke free," said Palermo.
While he spent the next half of the race looking over his shoulder, he felt good and even had the lungs to chat with the pace cyclist ahead of him.
He studied the course ahead of time, but it was Palermo's first time actually running the route. "You know what, it was a little tough in places (and changing directions) but the organizers put just enough flat and straight in between the hills so you always got a little break," he said. "I loved it.
"It was my personal best by a long shot, I'm ecstatic with my time... You never know how things are going to happen on race day."
For Jason Louttit, this was his first high-cadence run since he was injured three months ago. Louttit is in training for a 100-mile ultra marathon at the end of August, and came into the day with no expectations.
"I'm very happy," he said.
"David had a great run. He took off and I kind of dropped back, not having that speed work in. I eventually caught up to Ed (Edward McCarthy). I pretty much run at the same speed, so I think he fell off the pace a little."
Loutitt was right about keeping the same pace; he finished the first half of the race in 35:17 and the second half in 35:40.
On the women's side it was a tight battle right to the finish, with Karen Tulloch of Vancouver taking the win in 1:17:30. It was her first half marathon win.
"I signed up for this in January when I was still injured," she said. As a result she came into the race with four options — to run hard and try to win, to run for an hour and then ease up, to take it easy for the first hour and try to win strong, and option D), "to give my number to my husband and hang out with the dog and kids on the side of the course while he ran."