The final XC race of the winter season was welcomed with a beautiful bluebird spring day that saw double digits. There were young Harriers, veteran Harriers and rookie (or is it fair-weather?!) Harriers all on show.
3 Year old Julia Penny kicked off the day in the kids 1 km race. She was really pumped about running until someone said ‘go’. Julia being new to the racing scene (as an athlete) must have been feeling some pressure, or maybe it was the mud, and was in tears by the time she made a few strides. Sarah (her mom) found some words of motivation and she was in good spirits by the time she crossed the finish line.
The 8 km race saw one of the tightest finishes of the season for the top 3 spots. Andrew Carruthers (regular champion at these events) took the lead within the first kilometer, but didn’t get away too easily. Blaine Penny (rookie…well, first run with the BVH vest) chased him on the first decent climb and from there was hanging on for dear life. Andrew slowly extended his lead throughout the race but was pretty much always in Blaine’s sights. The Bridesmaid (Mark) Fewster was picking it up towards the end and in the last kilometer was on Blaine’s heels. Coming into the last climb Blaine was still hanging on to 2nd but starting to fade. Not knowing the course, Blaine dug deep and sprinted the last hill (thinking the finish must be close) with Mark right his tail and Andrew only a few seconds ahead. From the crest of the climb there was only about 200 m to the finish. Andrew held the reins up front, followed by Blaine 7 seconds later and Mark 9 seconds behind Blaine.
Also finishing in the top 10 were Phil Ukrainetz and Scott Manktelow who finished in 5th and 6th places respectively, with exactly the same time. Reports that they crossed the line holding hands are, as yet, unconfirmed... Ryan Rawlyk finished just outside the top 10, in 11th place. With 5 runners in the top 11, I'd say we pretty much dominated!
The pictures show Blaine leading Mark and Ryan powering through a tough section.
At the end, Blaine, who possibly had the best run of his life, had the following to say:
"Wearing the BVH vest for the first time, I felt I had a duty to make it proud. It was one of the best races I have had in a long time."
"Not having (or even owning a pair of spikes), I was feeling like a fish out of water when we hit the first decent climb. I just about body checked a fellow (not sure of the guys name) as I was out of control on some of the icy sections and was carrying some serious speed. Some fancy footwork kept me vertical and positioned right behind Andrew at the bottom."