Ucluelet’s 19th annual Edge To Edge race event was a sizzler.
On Sunday morning, 582 runners laced-up for a sultry 10-kilometre or half-marathon race that featured a sprint around the Lighthouse Loop portion of the Wild Pacific Trail. The mercury was pushing 20C by the time the fire engine led the half-marathoners off the start line at 9 a.m.
“It was really hot,” said runner Murrin Bewick of Ucluelet. “I definitely pushed myself. I think it would have been nice if it was cloudy. I’ve run that route before and I’ve gotten a better time but, I think, because it was so hot I was just expecting to do the best I could.”
Fellow Uclutian Giordano Corlazzoli agreed.
“It was really hot, which makes it a little bit harder. Once you got into the trail and the shade, it was a lot better,” he said.
With local terrain-knowledge under his belt, Corlazzoli placed second overall out of 327 runners in the half-marathon.
Stephan Smit of Comox B.C. defended the half-marathon title in a time of one hour, 33 minutes and 57 seconds. He said he encountered a bit of excitement within the first few kilometres of the race.
“I had to stop for a bear at 5k. Luckily, one of the drivers saw me because I didn’t know what to do. He got the bear to go back into the forest.”
Last year, Smit finished the half-marathon in one hour, 18 minutes and 28 seconds.
“I suspected the route was a little bit short. This year, they had a local guy run the course three times and they moved the turnaround. The times reflect that. I think this is spot on. It reflects the time. It’s a difficult course. This is not the course for a personal best,” he said.
Former professional triathlon athlete Gillian Clayton placed first overall in the women’s division of the half-marathon.
“It took longer than I had thought. Almost 10 minutes longer than I had trained for. It definitely was a challenging course. I was aiming for 1:30 and I came in at about 1:40,” said Clayton, who had an official race time of one hour, 41 minutes and three seconds.
“There were more hills than I had prepared for. It was definitely a more challenging course than I had anticipated. But, it was beautiful. It was really well done. Great organization. Very well-supported by the community,” she said.
Ucluelet local Brooke Pugh completed a fine 10-kilometre race in 52 minutes and ten seconds. She placed first in the female 35-44 category and ranked 13th overall out of 255 racers.
“I expected the heat to do me in, actually. I’m not used to that here. But it was the home-turf advantage; knowing where all the hills were on the trail. You’d come around the corner and hear people groaning. I’d have to encourage everybody. I thought it was well-marked. Lots of good traffic support. Hearing the cheers was the most motivating part,” said Pugh.
Australian Benjamin Niceforo, 21, crushed his first Edge to Edge 10-kilometre run in a time of 45 minutes and 41 seconds, placing first in the men’s under 24 category and fifth overall.
“The course was a lot tougher than I thought. It was challenging. My pace was up and down but I finished strong,” Niceforo said.
Edge to Edge race director Lara Kemps said she heard a lot of participants cross the finish line saying it was the hardest race they’ve ever ran. She disputed Bear Mountain’s title as ‘Canada’s Hardest 10k’.
“I’m challenging Bear Mountain for the toughest 10k in Canada. Bear Mountain goes up but then it goes down. Our course has many hills,” Kemps said.
The 20th Edge To Edge races will be held on the third Sunday of October 2019.