The popularity of the Oceanside Running Club Association’s Mother’s Day 10K and 5K runs continued to grow last weekend, with registration topping 400 runners and walkers for the first time in its seven-year history and smashing last year’s turnout of 267.
“We had about 423 pre-registered, 32 on race day, and of course we had some no-shows,” said Donna de Bellefeuille, who served as race director after several years as a volunteer. “I think in the end we ended up with about 400. We’re quite impressed with that number.”
That growth has been fueled in part by the influx of visiting runners, and two of them won the men’s and women’s 10K titles in their first try at the event Sunday on the out-and-back course between Parksville’s Community Park and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.
“We were just looking for another race to do,” said Amanda Johnston of Victoria, who was the top women’s finisher while placing seventh overall in 41 minutes, 47 seconds. “We did the TC 10K two weeks ago (in Victoria), but it was an insanely windy day, so we were kind of hoping for better conditions so we would have a better race.”
In terms of placing, Johnston and her husband, Chad Johnston, succeeded. They nearly made it a family sweep before Chad lost contact with early men’s leader Neil Holm of Courtenay on the return journey from Rathtrevor and settled for second among men.
Holm, 50, ran in front wire-to-wire while placing first overall in the 10K in 36:11. Chad Johnston was nearly a minute back in 37:08. Port Alberni’s Royd Burkhart was third in 37:39.
“I’m just fitting it into my training,” Holm said of his first visit to the ORCA club run. “I’m in Courtenay so it’s close; it’s just a friendly competition here, it’s well-organized and there’s really lots of enthusiam.”
That enthusiasm has been bolstered the past two years by the addition of a 5-kilometre option that encourages walkers and strollers. The shorter “race” takes runners across the orange bridge south of Parksville and on a brief tour of the Englishman River Estuary before their return to the finish line at the Pioneer Crescent cul-de-sac adjacent to Community Park.
The 5K event drew 171 participants — not including unregistered passengers in a number of strollers pushed on the course.
“Lots of little kids come out too,” said de Bellefeuille at the end of the races, as participants moved to the Parksville Curling Club for food, ice cream and the awards ceremony.
Courtenay teen Brandon Reeder was the first to cross the line in the 5K run, in 21:25. Maria Marciano of Port Alberni was the first woman finisher, in 26:15.
Top local finishers include Russell Glennicr of Nanoose Bay, fifth in the men’s 10K (41:01); Jody Parkes of Parksville, eighth in the women’s 10K (43:54); Luke Hubner of Qualicum Beach, who was second in the men’s 5K (24:47) while placing first in the 15-under division; and Emily Smith of Qualicum Beach, runner-up in the women’s 5K (26:32).
Smith was one of more than a dozen members of the Mom’s Got It team, who were conspicuous in matching purple T-shirts and who gathered near the finish line to cheer on and high-five teammates as they approached.
For complete results, visit www.racedaytiming.ca and select Results.