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.
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 OK 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 instalment 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 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.
Over 1,500 runners crossed the finish line of their respective events, according to Raceday Timing Services. "Overall participation was just shy of par with 2017, which was our biggest year to date, so we are pleased to see so many runners once again," wrote Dave Clark in an email following the event.
Now in its eighth year of operations, "The event went very well over the weekend and the weather was perfect for running, not too hot or cold, and stayed dry for the most part," he added. "Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with people noting how welcoming the community is and how wonderful all the volunteers were. We are very grateful for the people who give the gift of their time to help us put this event on."
While the final tally was still being accounted as of press time, Clark confirmed this year's event also managed to raise more than $20,000 for Crohn's and Colitis Canada.
Saturday's race offerings also included the first-ever Dog Jog organized with Whistler Animals Galore (WAG). The event offered a 4.5 km or 2.5 km course option, for participants to run or walk with their four-legged friends—who even received their own "race kits."
The event "went really well," noted Clark, adding that both the Whistler Half and WAG were pleased to see almost 40 dogs and their humans participate. Organizers estimate the event raised about $1,000 for WAG.
To view results, go to www.racedaytiming.ca/results/2018WhistlerHalfMarathon.