Marathon another day in the park for Day

Just having the opportunity to run in his traditional territory meant a lot to Ryan Day, so winning the Kamloops Marathon was icing on the cake.

Day, a Cache Creek resident, won the first Kamloops Marathon on Sunday, crossing the finish line at McArthur Island in two hours 35 minutes 25 seconds. Vancouver's Nick Sunderland, a Kamloops native, was second in 2:44:45, with Rick Brewster of Kamloops taking third in 2:47:43.

Victoria's Catrin Jones was the only other runner to break the three-hour mark, winning the women's event in 2:52:43.

The Marathon weekend, which organizers plan to make an annual event, featured five- and 10-kilometre races on Saturday near Hillside Stadium, and the marathon (42.2km) and half-marathon (21.1km) races on Sunday.

Day, 29, is a member of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) nation Bonaparte band, and a proud native. He knows all about the history of the Shuswap nation, and its roots in running.

"I'm Bonaparte Shuswap nation, so it's nice to run on traditional territory," Day said. "Before the time of horses . . . we had to send messengers between communities.

"That's the way it was for most nations, if you wanted to get a message to the next community, then you had to run there, and there would be a race to do it."

Day grew up in Kitimat and has worked hard to become one of the province's top long-distance runners. At the Vancouver Marathon in May, he was third overall in 2:29:22, before finishing fifth at the Calgary Marathon in 2:33:38.

He was the headliner at the Kamloops Marathon, the first such event in town since the Meeting of the Waters ended in 1992, when Dirk Handke won in 2:39:25. (Handke raced Sunday, finishing in 3:34:52).

Day gave a speech at Saturday's Running Expo, talking about his running and training philosophies, then went out and won on Sunday.

"I'm just ramping up the training now, so it's a pretty good indicator of where I'm at," said Day, who is completing a masters degree in indigenous governance through the U of Victoria. "I can't complain. It was tough there for a few kilometres, but it went all right."

The marathon started on McArthur Island, and went north to Westsyde, before returning to the North Shore. Racers crossed the Overlanders Bridge and ran through Riverside and Pioneer parks before backtracking through the parks to McArthur Island.

It was a flat route and, because the race started at 6 a.m., Day avoided much of the heat.

He has been training for longer runs, and competed in the North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco last year, taking 14th in the 50-mile race in 7:04:01. He also is working toward the Steve King Classic 100km, which runs Sept. 15 between Princeton and Summerland.

Training for ultramarathon events obviously will help a runner physically, but Day says it also has helped him mentally.

"I have noticed, since I started doing longer runs, the mental aspect of running a marathon is out," he said. "Training for a marathon . . . the marathon ends up being the pinnacle of the training, where that's the furthest distance you've run to that point.

"Whereas if you've run much further than that already, it's not really even in your head."

Coquitlam's Rika Hatachi was the second-fastest female in the marathon, crossing the line in 3:05:08, while Stacie Carrigan of West Kelowna took third in 3:19:53.

Day wasn't the only runner to have a good weekend.

In fact, no one had a better weekend than Merritt's Hans Aabye, who won Saturday's 5k in 17:10, then came back Sunday and took the half-marathon in 1:15:32.

"My goal was 1:16:00," Aabye said. "At the end, I was just sprinting, trying to get in. There was a guy walking with his back turned about 100 yards before the finish, and I was screaming, 'Get out of the way! Get out of the way!' "

Mark Carolan of Kamloops (1:23:57) was second in the half-marathon, ahead of Jonathan Behnke (1:24:19).

Kelowna's Karla Stevens (1:32:11) was the fastest female in the half-marathon, ahead of two Kamloops runners - Jennifer Elfenbein (1:33:50) and Leni Reichor (1:39:17).

It was a long weekend for Aabye, but he's used to those - he has run in every kind of competition, including the 125-kilometre Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache, Alta., which he completed twice.

Like Day, Aabye feels that running great distances helped him become a better all-around runner.

"Everything's fun compared to (the Death Race)," said the 34-year-old Aabye, with a laugh. "It was great - I was an OK runner before that, but it kind of gave me the mental toughness, going through something like that.

"After that, my times started to come down quite a bit."

Riley Kouwenhoven of Kamloops was second in the 5k race, finishing in 19:17, 25 seconds ahead of David Retzer.

Glynis Sim, a 14-year-old Canoe native fresh off a gold medal in the 2,000 metres at the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey last week, won the women's 5k event in 19:49. She was four minutes ahead of Chantel Jeffrey, with Tearilee Bishop third in 28:02.

Bryce Turner, a 15-year-old Kamloopsian, won the 10k race in 41:25, with Brian Lambert 11 seconds behind.

Kamloops' Vyonne Timewell was third overall and the top female, in 42:41, with Emilee Sim - Glynis's sister - second among females in 43:13 and Jennifer Read third in 49:55.

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