CANMORE – It's no surprise that runners made sure to be quick Sunday morning (Sept. 11) during the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.
But medals, glory and testing fitness aside, there might have been a little extra jolt to finish faster as a thick blanket of wildfire smoke from neighbouring British Columbia was beginning to roll into town.
As it turns out, many Bow Valley athletes dashed to the line a little harder and faster than most as six locals sprinted to podiums and 10 locked up top 10s in the 26th edition of the Canmore half marathon that mixes concrete and gravel running.
And if you looked at the 10K results on Sunday and had a double-take because Canmore's Duncan Marsden wasn't draped in gold, you aren't the only one.
Marsden – who's never tasted anything other than sweet victory since 2013 – was officially bumped off as reigning champion. Calgary’s Daniel Piticariu did the unthinkable and won gold (35:06.4), dethroning the perennial top dog – an eight-time gold medallist at the Canmore event – who finished with silver.
Canmore's Peter Clack (35:26.6) won bronze.
"It just wasn’t my day out there," said Marsden, who clocked in at 35:24.6, "But congrats to Daniel who ran a great race and thanks to the organizers who once again put on a seamless race, which was super fun and organized and perfect weather – we even beat the smoke rolling in by a few hours.
"There was a great vibe to the race and I think people are just pleased to be able to get out and do these types of events again after COVID. These types of events are so important for the community, in my view."
Planning for the future, Piticariu’s been training for five months, preparing for cross-country senior nationals in 2023. He jumped at the opportunity to race in Canmore – his first-ever 10km on road – to see where his gas tank was at.
“The plan was to actually go 35 minutes, so 35:06, isn’t bad,” he said.
“Usually you want to be around the 32-minute mark and I’m hoping by next year to get to that mark, maybe faster, so it’s just a matter of staying consistent and building my mileage and eventually throwing in workouts to drop down the time.”
In ninth for the men was Canmore’s Jake Griffiths (40:37.3).
The top women in the 10 km were Red Deer County’s Amy Severtson gold (44:33.7), Calgary’s Ellen Pearce silver (45:24.8), and Canmore’s Natasha Miles was bronze (46:37.5).
Canmore’s Marion Adda finished seventh (49:40.9).
In the half marathon, Canmore's Charlie Clarry enjoyed the shorter run and finished third overall.
“My last race was 100 km, so just to run something short and fast was nice today,” said Clarry, who crossed the finish line at 1:18:15.4.
“I was in second until about nine or so kilometres, and I kept it within a couple hundred metres for most of the race.”
Like Piticariu, Clarry is eyeballing a spot at an upcoming race – the Boston Marathon – and jumped into the local race on a whim to keep his fitness level up.
Calgary's Sib Kalsbeek won gold (1:17:30.7) in the half marathon, and Madison Theriault took silver (1:17:38.7).
Canmore’s Gunnar Falke finished seventh overall (1:26:19).
A trio of Calgary women won gold, silver and bronze in the half marathon with Maria Zambrano (1:20:30.4) taking first, Suzanne Pajot-Phipps second (1:27:13), and Tasha Bell third (1:28:47.9).
The top local woman was Christine Drouin in sixth (1:31:13.4), and Canmore’s Denisse Justiniano was ninth (1:36:45.1).
Cochrane’s Caden Jones won gold in the five km race (19:23.1), Lake Louise’s Colin Christmas took silver (20:39.4), and Calgary’s Louis Johnson was third (20:43.5).
Jones, 16, trains with the Cochrane Endurance Project athletic club and said it’s always great to outpace the older runners.
“I was really happy with how it went,” he said. “I stayed consistent and that was my goal for today and good opening race to start the season; that’s what I was looking for going in here.”
Male runners from Canmore in the top 10 included Richard Boruta in fourth (23:15.7), Jarret Janis in eighth (25:41.8), and Troy Martin rounded out top 10 at 28:25.9.
The top women of the 5 km were Cochrane’s Ellie Barlow (23:23.9), 11-year-old Canmorite Trillian Klinkhamer in second at 26:47.2, and Cochrane’s Reanne Booker was third (26:48.2).
Canmore’s Ian Gerrits (29:30.8) and Karen MacMillan (29:46.5) rounded out the women’s top 10.