By Gord Kurenoff. Phil Ellis is no stranger to arriving first at a finish line, but on Sunday morning in chilly Mission he was there in street clothes hours before anyone crossed it in the long-running Heritage to Hatzic 5K and 10K road race.
Originally published by the Vancouver Sun.
The genial winner of the 1991 Sun Run — in a lightening-fast 29:03, including a 4:28 first mile — was part of the Peninsula Runners’ slick organizational team that staged Sunday’s enjoyable event in the Fraser Valley.
He congratulated more than 150 friends, athletes — and yours truly — as they finished the challenging courses, made a bit tougher by some heavy rain bursts.
“You’re lucky we’ve eliminated some of the hills that were part of the original Mission Hill Stompers’ course,” laughed Ellis, as this scribe’s carbo-loaded carcass crawled across the finish line in a Flash shirt covered in sweat and rain — and crumbs from a Tim Hortons breakfast doughnut (ran out of Power Bars!).
The scenic course, with splendid views of the Grotto, St. Mary’s School and Westminster Abbey, also contained “a few rolling hills” to add variety and those priceless “thank gawd” expressions when people who might normally avoid steep inclines reached the end.
The annual event, referred to as “Mission’s very own Sun Run,” raised more than $1,500 for the Hospice Society, which had a display booth at Heritage Park High School near the busy massage tables operated by Evoke Wellness Centre.
With the H-to-H race also serving as a Sun Run tune-up, Ellis said he still remembers the thrill of competing in and winning Canada’s largest road race 24 years ago.
“That feeling will never go away. I have nothing but great memories and good things to say about the Sun Run,” said Ellis.
“… For the elite runners, the preparation and workouts leading up to the Sun Run are intense.
“The race itself is very strategic in that you have to be aware of so many things, like ensuring you can build distance between yourself and the sprinters in the field, knowing who is still with you after the tougher hills, when to make a move or push the pace. Bit of a chess match from start to finish.”
Ellis said the toughest part of the 10K course for him “mentally” was the “staying strong and sharp stretch” from 6K to 8K, and the important part was getting off to a fast, but comfortable start.
“No matter what level of runner you are, the Sun Run is just one super high. And no matter what level of runner you are, you should experience it.”
For a photo recap of Sunday’s race, click HERE.
Graham Laurie of Mission was the men’s 10K winner on Sunday, finishing the H-to-H event in 37:52. He finished a minute ahead of Fort Langley’s Ron Barber, followed by Mission’s Michey Ross in 41:50.
Top woman in the 10K wasAmanda Denharder of Mission in 53:02, followed by Becky Nelson of Mission (53:24) and Stacey McQuarrie of Abbotford in 53:57.
Tyler Ginther of Surrey won the men’s 5K in 16:56, followed by Aldergrove’sHans Zimmerling (17:15) and Langley’s Josh Saffold(18:50).
Winning woman in the 5K was Olivia Willett of Coquitlam in 19:27, who beat White Rock runner-upCorinne Issel by 30 seconds. Sammy Bell of Mission was third at 22:34.
FOOTNOTES: For more great events put on by Ellis’s PR crew, click HERE. … Have a happy and safe Sun Run this weekend and see you at the finish line by BC Place … And go Canucks!
For 10K race results, click HERE.
For 5K race results, click HERE.
Gotta run …
Gord Kurenoff works at the Vancouver Sun and is a former editor of the Abbotsford News and reporter with the Fraser Valley Record