Ideal weather and running conditions were very much to David Eikelboom and Claire Young’s liking for the 23rd running edition of the BMO Okanagan Marathon.
Eikleboom, from Whitehorse, and Young, from Kelowna, captured their respective marathon titles Sunday in Kelowna’s City Park.
Eikelboom fell just short of the course record, winning his first Okanagan Marathon in a time of two hours 34 minutes 27 seconds.
“It’s a beautiful course. Normally I do well on hilly courses so I wasn’t totally sure how a flat one would go,” Eikelboom said.
“I spent a lot of time studying the course map and the elevation profile. Plus being from Whitehorse helped me be able to run in today’s the slightly cooler temperatures.”
Edmonton’s Brian York placed second in the men’s marathon at 2:39:03, while Darryl Vanderwoude, also of Edmonton, placed third in a time of 2:39:52.
In the women’s marathon, an ecstatic Young crossed the finish line with a time of 3:06:12
“This is my first and only race this year,” Young said. “I’m over the moon, I didn’t expect to win that’s for sure.”
Following in second place was Vancouver’s Genevieve Cauffope coming in at 3:06:49 and Megan Brown, running a time of 3:07:43.
The men’s Half Marathon saw a new champion as Jordan Van Besouw of West Kelowna finished first at 1:20:03. The win caught Van Besouw by surprise.
“This was supposed to be a [final pre-race] training run – I’m running the New York Marathon in 3 weeks. So this is great.”
Spectators and cheer stations lined the course to cheer on the racers who experienced great conditions all morning. Placing second was Artur Wojtas of Calgary with a time of 1:23:55, followed by Kelowna’s Jacob Harris in at 1:25:01.
Taking the women’s Half Marathon was Calgary’s Deb Russell, with a time of 1:20:57. Russell was delighted to run a personal best time.
“I took just more than a minute off my previous best so I’m really happy with my time.”
Sarah MacArthur of Calgary finished second with a time of 1:23:03, and Winnipeg’s Gina Tranquada finished third at 1:29:05.
Brock Hoel from West Kelowna won the 10km men’s run in a time of 34:41. It was Hoel’s second time running the race, “It was perfect running conditions this year and I was about a minute faster than last year – so I feel really good.” First place in the women’s event went to Coldstream’s Erica Casey who ran a time of 40:14.
Nearly 3,000 people from six different countries took part in the event, which drew crowds and runners of all ages, from 7 to 81, including one family who had a grandfather, mother and granddaughter running in the 10 km.
Olympic race walker Mat Bilodeau participated in the half marathon this year, as did double lung transplant recipient Andrew Brownell, who was pushed in his wheelchair by his twin sister Anna the 21 km to the finish line.
“We are so grateful to the residents of Kelowna who have supported this event and really allowed it to grow,” says race director Tom Keogh. “We are so pleased to see such a diverse range of age and abilities in our runners – it truly has become a weekend the whole family can enjoy.”
Over the years, the BMO Okanagan Marathon has raised more than $386,000 for The Sunshine Foundation of Canada, including ongoing and significant contributions through fundraising activities organized by the regional BMO employees. The national charity has fulfilled 8,000 dreams across Canada, in their 29-year history.