The Last Chance Half took place yesterday and I was fortunate enough to be present at the finish and see Harrier Manktelow (in the words of the immortal David Coleman) "open his legs and show his class". It was a fantastic finish that went right down to the wire. Here's what the Harrier himself had to say about the race:
The Last Chance Half is run along the riverside paths, starting and finishing at Eau Claire. I had two main goals for this race: 1) a new PB, and 2) having gone off-course in 4 separate races this season, I hoped to Stay On The Course. Achieving #1 was probably only going to happen if I achieved #2.
There was a strong wind from the west so the first 5km was blustery and slow. At the turnaround I accelerated and passed the early leader, Jan Pedder, and tried to lay down some fast splits with the tailwind. I got a nice gap, running the 2nd 5km almost a minute faster than the first, and going through 10km in just over 36min.
I might have been a bit too eager. By 12km, I was starting to stagger, was getting dizzy and realized it was a perfect opportunity for me to lose focus and Go Off The Course. Steely resolve was required. By 15km I could see that Jan had caught up to within 10-15 sec. and Harrier Don King was not far behind. I tried to drill it for the last 5km, but despite my best efforts, Jan kept closing the bloody gap. At the 20km marker, Jan passed me and passed HARD. I hoped he was bluffing and surged to get on his shoulder.
With 400m to go, we had to climb the ramp leading to the pedestrian bridge over the Bow R. I stumbled up the ramp, turned right, and was surprised (and dismayed) to discover myself kicking as hard as I could from 300m out. With 100m to go, I could see Duncan cheering by the side (with new baby in tow) and knew I could not let him down while wearing the dashing new Bow Valley Harriers vest. Unfortunately, Jan was still on my shoulder and it turned into a full-out sprint to the line -- not a pretty sight in a half-marathon.
I was able to get a small gap and win by one second (!), successfully getting a new PB (1:17:11) and also successfully Staying On The Course.
Much credit is due to Jan Pedder for hauling ass through the 2nd half of the race, and Don King who came in a fast-closing 3rd in 1:17:48. The full results are here: http://www.winningtime.ca/09/09lastchance/oall.txt