Cold doesn’t slow runners
Kelowna-based athletes took the top three spots in the 20th and final Penticton Lakeside 5K Fun Run Sunday.
Fifteen-year-old Sean Bergman crossed the finish line on Lakeshore Drive in 16 minutes, five seconds. Right on his heels was Hans Aabye of West Kelowna clocking in at 16:08. Third went to John Machuga in 17:04.
The top male Penticton runner was Josh Heinrich, finishing in 18:03, good for sixth overall and first in the 30-34 age group. He was followed by Sergio Pio, eighth and first in the 45-49 group, and Aart Van Kooy, 24th overall and third in 45-49.
The top local female was Jen Annett, finishing in 21:29, putting her 41st overall and fifth in the 20-29 group. She was followed by Krystyna Dunham, who clocked in at 22:37 for 50th overall and first in 30-34 group. Gloria Woolner rounded out the top three finishing in 23:34 at 62nd overall, second in 50-54.
“Whenever I turned around he was always there, but sometimes you need that fast guy there to push you,” said Bergman of Aabye. “This was definitely a PBT (personal best time) for me. My win today was probably because of my coach actually. I wasn’t even planning on entering until he mentioned it to me and I thought, “Hey, go for it.”
Bergman, of the Okanagan Athlete Club of Kelowna Secondary, added that the cold weather didn’t bother him much while running.
“Now that you mention it, I can’t feel my hands,” joked Bergman, competing in his second race of the season.
Assistant race director Neil MacDonald felt the event went well. He was surprised by the large turnout of spectators considering the -10 C temperatures with wind.
“It was quite frigid Sunday morning and we still had quite a crowd out there cheering on,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald said it was a good send-off for the final race. He just wished there were more participants than the 178 who competed.
“Numbers were definitely down and that’s just a weather thing,” he said, adding that last year the event had more than 300.
In talking about the participants, MacDonald described Pio as Mr. Consistency.
“I used to race with him. He hasn’t really slowed down that much,” said MacDonald. “It’s always impressive to see his times. I was quite impressed with the two top male and female finishers. It was cold and it was windy. It’s hard to run that fast in the times they did, especially Hannah Benison, 15, who is quite young.”
Kelowna’s Christy Lovig was second overall among female finishers at 18:33, which was good enough to win her 35-39 age group.
Prior to the event, MacDonald said it was kind of sad the 20th edition of the race would be the final one. He said the struggle though was getting enough volunteers.
“It was going to be cancelled this year until Rick Jenkner volunteered to be the race director,” said MacDonald in an earlier interview with the Western News.
The race has had some illustrious winners over the years, several of whom have gone on to greater fame such as local coach and Peach City marathon winner Kevin Cutjar, Olympian Malindi Elmore, Vancouver marathon winner Keddi-Anne Sherbino, and Challenge Penticton winner Jeff Symonds. Symonds and Brent Helland are the only people to win the race three years in a row, while Mark Bomba has four wins and the course record of 15:17.
Among the women, Jessica Hannah has won three times and Cindy Rhodes, Sarah Clark, and Brenda Shackleton twice each. Shackleton holds the women’s record of 17:50 set in 1997.
The next race in the Canadian Tire Interior Road Race Series is the Kamloops River Spring Runoff 10K run March 16.