Jackson takes Whistler Half Marathon win

Local runners record strong finishes in 10 K

David Jackson said he wanted to have a comfortable start to The North Face Whistler Half Marathon on Saturday (June 1). By the end, it was his huge lead over the rest of the field that looked pretty comfy.

The Abbotsford runner captured top spot in the 21.1-kilometre race, crossing the Whistler Olympic Plaza finish line in one hour, 11 minutes, 24 seconds to take the victory.

Jackson made a cautious start to Saturday's race through the resort, having just completed another half marathon last weekend. But he was able to surge to the front of the pack early on, pulling ahead of Vancouver runners Nicholas Browne and Ed McCarthy on the Blueberry Hill climb that came before the course's three-km mark.

"I was able to maintain that lead and then kind of took it easy on the downhills and then was able to push it a little bit on the uphills to increase my lead a bit," said Jackson. "It's a tough course. It's hillier than most half marathons, but sometimes it's nice to have a hillier course than just one that's flat.

"I'm happy to come here and it's always nice to race against some of the best guys in the province."

Jackson led by a full minute when reaching the halfway point at Rainbow Park Saturday, and stretched that lead to more than three minutes by the time he reached the finish. Browne (1:14:39) took runner-up honours and McCarthy (1:15:23) finished third for the second consecutive year.

"I knew David would win," laughed Browne, originally from New Zealand. "He's a class runner. He's a lot better than the rest of us. I thought I might have a chance at second and was doing everything I could to hold on to that spot."

Catrin Jones similarly opened up a big lead over the rest of the field to capture the women's half marathon-distance race, one year after finishing in second place. The Victoria resident clocked in at 1:20:21 to hold off Vancouver's Anne-Marie Madden (1:23:46) and 2011 winner Care Nelson (1:24:47).

"I really love the course so I was happy to come up again," said Jones. "I went out a little fast - I had a little bit of adrenaline going there - but I was able to hold on."

In the unofficial results, Whistler's Ben Biswell had the top local finish in the half marathon with a time of 1:31:19, good for 19th place overall. Gavin Sands (1:31:23) was right on his heels for 20th spot, while Lisa Smart (1:32:36) was 24th overall and the fastest local female.

This year's race featured a 10 K distance for the first time and Sea to Sky runners posted several impressive results, as the women's 10 K was swept by locals. Tara Gorman battled with fellow Whistler resident Laura Bestow before taking top spot in a time of 41:40. Pemberton's Emma Chadsey finished third.

"Really, I just wanted to see how it would go, because it's my first race in two years," said Gorman. "(Bestow and I) were both swapping the lead the whole time - she was leading a lot, actually - but at the end, I just went."

Geoff Reid (37:47) was the men's 10 K winner but received a good challenge from Whistler's own Alex Katzer-Dunn, who finished 38 seconds back to place second. Vancouver's Christopher Drozda took third. Kyle Moen and Karen Elliot were other Whistler runners who placed in the top 10 overall.

Race director Dave Clark said this year's event raised $20,000 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada.

Results are being posted to www.racedaytiming.ca. Read Thursday's (June 6) edition of The Question for a complete wrap up of Saturday's race.

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