Under overcast skies and with the temperature hovering around ten degrees celsius, runners, organizers, walkers and spectators gathered at the Annex Park for the Fernie Half Marathon Race, Sunday.
In its eleventh season, the fall event has become one of the classic attractions in the Elk Valley and despite the rain, got to an early start. With last minute registrations still in the works and as music was played in the background, runners from all walks of life trickled in, some clad in running attire, some dressed up in colourful costumes – excitement and anticipation filled the air.
Almost 350 participants, some came from as far as Calgary, Kelowna, Invermere, Montana as well as locals to compete in the 21 kilometres race that took runners on a course along the banks of the Elk River then looping back and forth throughout the community trails – the terrain: some hilly, some downhill, but mainly flat with scenic views of the mountain landscape.
At around ten bells, the countdown zeroed in, crowds cheered as runners traded their smiles for the serious outlook of a run that would test their endurance, will, stamina, pride and goals. Along the course, bystanders hollered goodwill gestures and encouragement to the runners. As well, volunteers offered water to the athletes at the various water stations throughout the race course.
Records were broken as Ryan Cain of Cranbrook won the overall men’s solo title with a time of 1:19:29 while his wife Laura clocked a time of 1:37:39 to finish a minute ahead of her closest rival to win the women’s title.
“It feels great to win,” said Ryan. “But watching my wife win was much more exciting especially in front of our kids.”
In 2009 Ryan won the overall race title in Fernie, then finished second last year. A veteran runner of 20 years, he hopes to come back next year and defend the title.
“I knew I had a chance to win,” Laura said of the victory in the presence of her children. “It is always exciting, today in particular when my girls could see us … and we act as good role models for them and for us to do well.”
“Thanks to the City of Fernie and the organizers of the Half Marathon,” said the winning duo. “Hats off to the town for putting it on, we definitely will be back next year.”
Jeff Murray, from Invermere, literally raced to the finish to beat out Christopher Fisher, from Bogota, Columbia, by 1/100th of a second. Jeff’s time was 1:27:26:64 – Christopher’s 1:27:26:65.
In the women’s division Marysville’s Jacqui van Zyl took second place with a time of 1:39:00 and Danielle Burki, from Kimberley, came third with 1:40:29.
This year’s race also broke previous participation records with 346 individuals taking part.
The first place women’s team was from Fairmont BC with team mates Nadyia Fry, Stacie Carrigan and Fernie’s Abi Moore with a time of 1:27:31. The first place mixed team was Team Lightning from Invermere with a time of 1:35:06, made up to team mates Josephine Mouly, Tiara Livingston and Jack Kubian. The men’s team from Eureka, two students and their coach Neil Longhurst, took the top time with 1:43:02. The fastest student team was Fast ‘N Wild with a time of 1:44:51 – made up of Jared Sillem, Jacob Blair and Evan Traverse, all of The Fernie Academy.
For full race results check out:
By Eriki Filipe