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Willis Greenaway Half race report

The first Willis Greenaway Half Marathon (renamed from the Summerland Centennial Half), the ninth race of the series, was held Sunday August 1. A field of 94 finishers (down slightly from 2009) finished the tough, but very scenic, course around upper Summerland under a sky dimmed by smoke haze. The haze held temperatures down to the twenties, making it a good day to race.

Only five runners were able to crack 1:30, however, with Vernon's Trevor Jordan (M40-44) repeating last year's victory, albeit in a slower time of 1:19:37. Jordan also repeated as age-graded champion (1:14:01). Brian Rostek (M40-44) of Kamloops continued his run of good results by chasing Jordan home in 1:21:45, while Penticton's Sergio Pio (M45-49) made it a sweep for the masters by taking third in 1:22:42 for a new age group record. (The second running of the reverse course saw ten age category records broken or set.)

For the women, Winnipeg's Gina Tessman (F20-29), who finished second overall in the Midsummer 8K, took the victory as the last runner to break the 1:30 barrier at 1:29:30, setting a new record for her age group, and new course and race record as well. Stacey Cleveland (F30-34) capped a strong second half by passing Cindy Rhodes (first F50-54, fourth overall, in 1:35:56) and Kathryn Waslen (second, F20-29, third overall in 1:35:29) in the last couple of kilometres to take second overall and set a new age group record of 1:35:14. She also passed this writer for tenth place in the standings, but I did have the satisfaction of taking a rare victory in M55-59 with a new age group record of 1:35:26. Former M55-59 record holder Mike Braid distinguished himself by also breaking the old record in finishing second (1:41:55).

Some illustrious names made rare appearances to honour Willis on a day when several members of his family also attended and volunteered. Allan Kerr (M65-69) broke the age group record by over thirty minutes and was seventeenth overall in 1:39:11. Dan Cumming, co-editor with Steve King of 'Running in the Zone' ran his first IRA race, (no data re any pre 1999 entries) finishing fourth in M65-69 at 2:16:46. Brian Hill finished third in M50-54 in 1:42:23, and former Ridge Runners President Jud Thompson (first, M70-74) just missed his own age group record at 2:00:43. Willis' granddaughter Laura Princic finished second in F35-39 at 1:54:22, and his niece Nancy Greenaway was the final finisher in 2:50:05. His daughter Linda Princic, her husband Romeo, and their daughter Lisa were among the race crew.

The race also featured the first-ever finishes by the F70-74 age group, with Liz Borrett of Kelowna besting Helen Peters of Winnipeg (a friend of Willis', sister Merle, (F93) who was also in attendance), to set an age group record of 2:07:09, which landed her second overall A-G (1:20:06), in what I believe was her first IRA race. Cindy Rhodes led the A-G standings at 1:19:15, (her sixth victory in six races) but still trails Diane Leonard (1:59:44, first F65-69) in the standings for the Heidi Muckle-Gader Cup. Leonard took third A-G at 1:24:33, and is scoring seven races.

In the mens age graded standings, Kerr (1:15:00) finished second to Jordan, and Brian Rourke (first M60-64) took third (1:15:13). Rourke broke his age group course record by over thirty minutes in running 1:34:44 (ninth overall). Pio took fourth A-G, and trails Rourke in the standings for the Greenaway Cup with 1335 points to 1343, with only three more races to run. Rostek finished fifth A-G.

Many thanks to Race Director Ron Sherk and his crew of volunteers for a great race. Every finisher received a souvenir medal featuring an outline of Willis, and a printed certificate showing their time and age category placing. The top three in each age group received jars of yummy Summerland Sweets jam. Ron is still $500 short of his goal to raise $2000 for the B.C. Alzheimer Society but is confident that number will be reached. The final tally of the race proceeds will likely allow the same amount to be donated to the Summerland Asset Development Initiative.

In other local race news, Dan Crockett, who was champion of M60-64 and third for the Greenaway Trophy in 2008, was the overall winner, at the age of 63, of the Fat Dog 100K trail ultra, held near Keremeos on July 23. His winning time was 19:40:07. Penticton Pounder Patrick Amundsen was fifth in M50-59.

The next race of the series is the Raven Run 10K in Salmon Arm on August 15. This race was nearly cancelled for want of a race director, and it needs your support. Please come out and run.

Rick Jenkner reporting.

 

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