February 19, 2012
With Cobble 10k rescheduled to Feb 26, Hatley is the start of a three back to back races for me. Always a tough hilly course which is only half paved, Hatley is not conducive to fast times or PB's, but is still a nice little race. After a satisfying Cedar 12k, I hoped to have a similar race here. The course was changed slightly this year with a modified start, turn around, and flat finish - overall, it was expected to be a bit easier this time around.
The start is a fast downhill and race favorite James Lander (who was 2nd at Cedar) surged ahead followed closely by Sean Chester. I settled into 3rd/4th along with Ben Brzezynski where we cranked out a relatively quick 3:10 opening kilometre. The course then heads up a good climb and since this is where I do well, I cranked the intensity up a bit. Ben seemed to be working harder than I was and he fell back a bit. Once things leveled out and then headed back downhill after the first turn-around, he fought back and we ran together for another km or so until we came to the largest climb of the course. Again I pushed pretty hard and managed to gain a few seconds on Ben. Now I only had to hang onto my slim lead.
Around the 4km mark, we moved onto gravel and had to grind out a bit more climbing. I was feeling decent, although not quite as snappy as I did at Cedar. Due to the hills and the surface, km splits are all over the place on this course. My fastest kilometer was a over 30s faster than my slowest. At the 2nd turn around, I saw that I had a modest lead on Ben and a comfortable one over Shawn Nelson, who was running in 5th position. I was suffering a little bit, but was still in reasonable control. There was a bit of mud on the trails and I slipped around a bit in my road flats, but luckily it wasn't really a factor. There was one more small climb and then I knew it was all flat or downhill to the finish.
I bombed down the last hill and made my way to the final kilometer. Ben had closed the gap and was now just a few seconds back. Coach O'Cal and Keven Searle was cheering us on which was a great motivator. I still had a bit in the tank and picked it up a bit. Just before I hit the 100m mat, I accelerated for the final sprint and gave it all to the line.
I finished just under 27 min for the first time ever at the race (26:57) and good for 3rd place. Overall it was a good race for me and I was particularly happy with my last km 3:05 clocking and a 13.2s 100m sprint which tied me for fastest sprint (unfortunately for Byron Trajan, who convincingly won the sprint at Cedar, didn't get his time recorded for some reason).
Overall, James cruised to a win in 25:26, with Sean about 45s back. Claire Morgan picked up a nice win while Julie Van Veelan narrowly edged out Sonja for the 2nd woman. Still a great race for Sonja with her best placing ever. Good races too for Larry Nylen and Heather Afford who won the woman's sprint. Nice worked too by Ian Sealre with a tip 10 finish. He is going to be tough to beat if he keeps the training up.
My Splits: 3:10, 3:33, 3:16, 3:38, 3:28, 3:31, 3:13, 3:05