FORT LANGLEY — Before we discuss the 500-plus souls who laced up for Sunday’s Fort-less Langley miracle, TRY Events’ new JFS Hotcake Hustle 5K or pint-sized Toby Balfour‘s first 5K without his mom as pacer, I must share a cheesy-but-cute Valentine’s weekend greeting: “I paid the light bill just to see your face!”
Sandwiched between Valentine’s Day and Family Day, this year’s LHS Fort Langley Historic Half was almost cancelled because of mudslides, flooding and miserable weather/course conditions, but some 11th-hour scrambling by Mitchell Hudson and his determined organizing crew saved the day.
And even though participants didn’t get to go inside the impressive fort, or warm-up before the race by a large fire — my two favourite things about this annual event — race day didn’t lose its vibe. In fact, save for a few hills, a lot of runners said they loved the Fort to Fort Trail, the pancakes, medals, shirts, firefighters and sunny skies for the half marathon, 10K, 5K and kids’ events.
Lynn Marie, a special education assistant for School District 42, said post-race: “OK, that was so much fun. Feeling pretty accomplished after our speedy (5K) race today!”
And Hudson, who was smiling from ear-to-ear before the start of the half marathon, allowed: “What a relief after a frantic week. Today we can focus on the fun!”
Colin Jepsen had a lot of fun as the top finisher in the half marathon, topping the 172-entry field in 1:16:58. Runner-up was Alexi Garib (1:23:09), followed by Jordan Goertz (1:23:44). Top female finisher was Lindsay Cole in 1:32, 36 seconds ahead of Kierstin Dolata. Emily Spencer was third in 1:33:16.7.
• FOR OFFICIAL RESULTS, click HERE
• FOR MY FUN RACE PHOTOS, click HERE
Duane Foley won the 190-entry 10K race in 40:02, followed by James Blair (43:03). Shelby Hancock was the top female finisher, and third overall, in 43:16.2. Christina Crump was runner-up in 44:07.
Grant Roberts bested 151 others in the 5K with a time of 18:50. Pierre Chan was second (21:06), followed by Chris Perger (24:03). Top female finisher was Christine Arnold in 26:49, followed by Joanna Williams (27:24) and Melanie Mackenzie (27:42).
Here are a few other fun gems from Sunday’s race:
Toby sizes up the competition
Willa Balfour did a great job as the public address broadcaster Sunday morning, but her volunteer gig meant young son Toby had to run the undulating 5K by himself for the first time.
Wearing a Hogwarts Alumni tuque and water bottles, the small kid with the rock star hair impressed — clocking in at 39:47, and 93rd overall. His smile never faded in the event that raises funds and awareness for the good folks at Langley Hospice Society.
Teacher marks Great 8 with PB
Classy Cloverdale teacher Eve Ojea celebrated her eight-year “run-iversary” on Sunday morning in style — she crushed the 10K course in a personal best 61 minutes.
“My first race that I ever did was eight years ago and it took me 1:11 to do 10K. Today I did it in 1:01-something! Pretty happy with that,” said Ojea, who has either forgiven or forgotten this runner for dragging her up to North Van last year to run the “mostly flat” 12.5K Phantom Run.
Turns out the only thing flat at that Foretrails Race Series event was the parking lot and the post-race pancakes. My bad!
She did send a nice note post-race on Sunday saying: “Just wanted to say thank you Gord, because you have been one of many people who have encouraged me and guided me as a runner.”
While that kind gesture will get you in this blog every darn time, the neat thing I love about Eve is that she’ll dress up as Snow White and run a Disney World half, or get themed out for a 10K or 5K fun run, or just switch to Beast Mode and run like the wind like she did Sunday — all with a smile.
As for that soon-to-be-viral photo of her cuddling with a firefighter along Sunday’s course?
“Maybe I had some extra motivation to get a PB!”
Trying times for TRY Events pays off
Besides trying to save Sunday’s race, Mitchell Hudson was also busy putting the finishing touches on a new one in North Vancouver.
The inaugural JFS Hotcake Hustle 5K will be held Sunday, April 26, and is the 11th event now on the TRY Events 2020 race calendar.
“For the first time ever TRY Events is introducing the JFS Hotcake Hustle to the Shipyard! Whether you are a seasoned runner or just want to try something new, this event is for you! With up to 500 participants this is a great way to get involved with the community while getting some fresh air and exercise,” said Hudson.
There will be shirts, medals and prizes for participants in this new event, which will help to put a spotlight on the great work the Jewish Family Services has done in the Lower Mainland for the past 82 years.
JFS aims to raise a minimum of $10,000 from the JFS Hotcake Hustle in support of vital mental health and counselling programs helping hundreds of clients living in the Lower Mainland, annually. JFS is driven by the values of accountability, collaboration, compassion, dialogue, dignity, diversity and respect.
For more info and to register, click HERE.
The next race in the TRY Event series goes Saturday, March 7 with the fun Hot Chocolate Run at Stanley Park (5K and 10K) and the Shamrock’n Race at Burnaby Lake (5K, 7 Miler and half marathon) on Sunday, March 15.
Podium posing was picture-perfect
Finally, last year this runner missed the Fort Langley age-class podium by two lousy seconds because silly me stopped 400 metres from the finish line to take several selfies with three female race officials who made everyone smile. This year, I won my age class in the 5K, running a 31:30 on a course that I’ve never gone under 32:30 in training.
What made Sunday’s “surprise win” even sweeter was that last weekend I ran a 5K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday in the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans extravaganza.
Combine lots of running miles, travel, hot temps, wicked humidity, less-than-normal sleep, a few beignets and beverages (too many) and hanging with swamp people, gators and snakes, plus eating for a week like there’s no tomorrow, Sunday’s win was pretty satisfying.
So classy and fun Jen Jonsson, who I met a few years ago at the Granville Island Turkey Trot and who dragged me the final K at Fort Langley on Sunday, staged a mock podium shot to celebrate our memorable morning.
This scribe joked that I was too sore and too chafed to climb up to the top step, while her fun friends said to hurry before we get kicked off! No problem, I get that a lot!
FINISH LINES: I’ll be back at Fort Langley next Sunday morning (Feb. 23) when PEN RUN wraps up its successful Fraser Valley Trail Run Series with the Fort-to-Fort 5- and 10-miler races. For more info and to enter, click HERE. … RunGo’s Dash For Dogs will be held Sunday with a guided 10K, 5K or 2K run or walk through Stanley Park in Vancouver with proceeds going to B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs. For more info and to enter, click HERE. Pretty excited to be joining the West Van Run crew on Saturday, March 7 (5K) and Sunday, March 8 (10K) for their annual race weekend and the start of a busy, race-filled month. For more info on the West Van Run events, click HERE. I’ll have a “March madness” race blog later in the week. Hope you all enjoy Family Day!
Gotta run …