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by Louise Hodgson-Jones

vira logoJanuary 7, 2014, Victoria (ISN) - The first race in the Frontrunners Island Race Series – the Harriers Pioneer 8K – takes place on Sunday, January 12 at 11 am. Last year's winners Geoff Martinson and Natasha Wodak are returning, leading an impressive field of elite runners. The 8K is hosted by the Prairie Inn Harriers and is the first race of the Timex BC Road Running Series.

Over 5,300 registered for the 2013 series, now in its 33rd year. "Record numbers are expected for the races this year as many of the long time participants set their schedules around the Island Series," says Cathy Noel, President of the Vancouver Island Runners' Association (VIRA), the non-profit organization that coordinates the series. "The competition is going to be tough for the top 10 spots in each age category, but each and every race is open to all levels."

In 2013 the overall series was won by Prairie Inn Harriers runner Geoff Martinson with Jen Miller winning the female category. Martinson is looking for another win on Sunday. "My goal is a sub-24 minutes but I hear there will be some great competition at the race, so I expect it will be a tough run out there," he says. "My sights are also set on a new Bazan Bay 5km record."

"It's always great to kick off the year as the first race of the Timex BC Road Running Series, and being the host for the BC 8K Championships for 2014 is helping us attract some great elite runners," says Heather Bretschneider, Co-Race Director of the Harriers Pioneer 8K. "This year is especially exciting as we celebrate the 35th Anniversary."

Other top seeded athletes to run on Sunday include Kevin Friesen and Rob Watson from Vancouver, Natasha Wodak (Vancouver, and Harriers Pioneer course record holder), Erin Burrett (Nanaimo), Sabrina Wilkie (Vancouver) and Dayna Pidhoresky (Windsor, ON). The top masters are local Victoria favourites, Jim Finlayson and Lucy Smith.

The Harriers Pioneer 8K starts and finishes at Saanich Fairgrounds, 1528 Stelly's X Road, Saanichton, BC. Runners can register online until midnight, Wednesday January 8 at www.vira.bc.ca, at Frontrunners, 1200 Vancouver St on Saturday January 11, or on race day. Race registration until January 8 is $25 for adults and $20 for students. Race day fees are $35 and $30 for students.

Eight races make up the Frontrunners Island Race Series. The Harriers Pioneer 8K will be followed by Cobble Hill 10K on January 26, Cedar 12K on February 9, Hatley Castle 8K on February 23, Synergy Health Management Ltd Bazan Bay 5K on March 9, Comox Valley RV Half Marathon on March 23, Merville 15K on April 6, and Sooke River 10K on April 13. Synergy Health Management Ltd Bazan Bay 5K and the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon are also part of the Timex BC Series. All races are sanctioned by BC Athletics. Registration is now online at www.vira.ba.ca. Historical results from races dating back to 1980 from previous race series can be seen on www.pih.bc.ca.

To register online for the series go to: www.vira.bc.ca. Historical results from races dating back to 1980 from previous race series can be seen on http://pih.bc.ca/results/IslandSeries.php 

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