Over 1,000 runners took to the streets of Kelowna Saturday for the Inaugural Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon.
Sergio Reyes, of Palmdale, Calif., and Kimberley Doerksen, of Gibsons, won the men’s and women’s titles respectively in the 21.1 km run, which began at the Vibrant Vine Winery then meandered past vineyards, farms and apple orchards, before taking runners onto the Mission Creek Greenway.
The final six km of the course took runners along Okanagan Lake to the finish at Waterfront Park for the post-race Wine and Music Festival.
Reyes, who has now won five different Wine Country Half Marathons, completed the rolling, winding course in 1:06:19, beating second place finisher Richard Mosley of Coquitlam (1:08:42) and Hans Aabye of West Kelowna (1:14:04).
Doerksen ran a time of 1:18:04, defeating second place finisher of Jessica O’Connell, of Calgary, by 40 seconds and Kelowna’s own Christy Lovig who placed third (1:24:26).
Reyes, much like the over 1,000 runners who participated, raved about the experience.
“This was a real treat to come up here and win this inaugural race in such a beautiful place,” Reyes said. “The course was tricky with all the elevation changes in the first 10K but once I reached the downhill and Greenway, I was able to pull ahead and keep a nice pace to the finish.“
Reyes and Doerksen each received $500, wine and the Riedel Decanter trophy for winning.
The morning was overcast and cool, but the sun broke though halfway through the race, providing a picturesque backdrop for the post-race festivities and awards ceremony.
”What a great day we all experienced here in the Okanagan Valley,” said Matt Dockstader, Race Director and President of Destination Races. “As far as first races go, I don’t think we could have asked for more than what mother-nature and the valley shared with us today!”
Graeme Wilson of Vancouver won the men’s masters division with a time of 1:16:35, while Susan Loken of Phoenix won the women’s masters with trophy with a time of 1:25:15. The winning team was RUN LIKE HELL, whose five fastest times were USATF handicapped by age and gender.
YMCA Strong Kids and The University of British Columbia Heat Cross Country Running were the primary volunteer providers and beneficiaries of the event.