Grey skies and a steady West Coast rain greeted runners for the start of the 34th Annual Vancouver Marathon on May 7th, 2006. A sea of black garbage bags and shivering bodies huddled beside BC Place for the start of the race, also a day in which the eventual winner Kassahun Kabiso of Ethiopia (2:18:29) almost missed the start because he was still in his warm-up gear 30 seconds before the gun.
Many VFAC runners had spent months preparing for the half and full marathon – enduring those long Sunday runs and even more painful long interval workouts in Stanley Park – “double-double (2 x 3 1/4 miles)” and “3 x 1mile 7/8″ being the two workouts everyone loves to hate in preparation for the marathon.
This year’s marathon course was essentially unchanged from 2005 – winding it’s way through the Downtown Eastside and around False Creek before returning Downtown and through Stanley Park, along English Bay and over the Burrard Bridge into Kitsilano, then an out-and-back toward Jericho Beach before returning to the last grueling couple of miles, the last climb over Burrard Bridge and downhill in the last mile along Pacific Blvd and finishing in front of the Plaza of Nations.
Graeme Wilson (Men 35-39) was the VFAC frontrunner – running solo for most of the race – finished in a gutsy 2:28:45 – a new PB and a steller run for such a gloomy day. In 2005, he finished in 2:41:45 – a 13 min improvement. He commented afterward that he felt really relaxed and still had a few minutes in him at the finish. Not surprising after essentially running a personal time trial with nobody to challenge him and the duo in front of him finishing about 5 min ahead. Well out of chasing distance. Guy Smith (Men 40-49) busted out at 2:46:25, a few minutes off his personal best, but faster than 2:51:33 in 2005. On the comeback trail, Joel Werner (Men 30-34) challenged Guy for the first 10 miles, but fell off the pace by the half-way mark. Commenting that he had a “tough day” out on the course, Joel faded to finish in 2:56:14, well off his 2:45 goal. Dave Palma ran a steady race crossing the line in 2:54:44 and Shu Sanatani finished in 3:06:33. Other VFAC Men’s finishers included Rod Urquhart in 3:08:30, Matthew Klas in 3:22:47, and Andrew Kamara in 3:42:16.
On the women’s side – in her marathon debut, long-time VFAC runner Kirsty Siemens (Wmn 35-39) ran 3:12:41, edged out by Lina Augaitis (Wmn 25-29) in 3:12:34. Daughter of 1976 Vancouver Marathon champion Ross Jackson of New Zealand, Trudi Jackson (Wmn 30-34) who now makes Canada home, took 5 mins off her personal best to finish in 3:24:27. Sue Ironside finished in 3:39:28.
On the half -marathon side – Rita Ivanauskas (Wmn 40-44) finished the in 1:28:06 edged out by Leslie Black in 1:28:01 (Wmn 45-49). New VFAC member just moved to Vancouver from Whitehorse, Natalie Closs finished in 1:32:21.
By afternoon, grey skies had turned to bright sunshine to bring in the marathon masses. Great showing by all VFAC athletes!!