Hatley Castle 8k Race Report | Vancouver Island Race Series

Touring the grounds and standing in front of Hatley Castle post race
Touring the grounds and standing in front of Hatley Castle post race


It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write a race report! I’m happy one of my first races of 2017 was the Hatley 8k. Who wouldn’t want to race at a location that is so beautiful, scenes from movies/shows like Deadpool, X-Men, Smallville and many more have been shot! It’s a part of the Vancouver Island Race Series and this year was 3rd of 8 races. This race is very hilly, total ascent of a little over 230 feet, including short steep hills, long steep hills and a very long, very fast decent the last couple of km’s. The course has some turns in it as well, and running surface varies from pavement, gravel, to trail. It’s a fairly technical, hard, hilly run course that is very rewarding and has some of the most beautiful views!

Run training has been extremely low for me this year, because for me, it’s a year of trying to find big gains in the swim and bike. Although, with that being said, I was able to run 5 out of the 6 days leading into the race, which sharpened up my run fitness as best it could before race day. I believe all of the races in this race series have a start time of 11 am, which is great! Living in the Cowichan Valley is a pretty central location to most of the events and means I can sleep in my bed before all of these races. Leaving for Hatley Castle on race morning, the weather was very rainy and foggy, but thankfully by the time we arrived at the race site, it was warm and sunny. With about 30 minutes to go until race start, I put on my race number and went out for a 15-20 minute warm up, making sure I did a few short, but hard efforts to get my body ready for a hilly race. The only thing I knew about the course was that it was very hilly, had a mix of pavement and trail and to expect your slowest 8k race time ever. I finished my warm up, not very positive about how the warm up went. The hard efforts made me feel like I was wasn’t going to have that extra gear once the race started. I lined up at the start line and decided to try and stay in the lead group and not take any unnecessary and stupid risks early on in the race.

Race start. Slightly downhill and flat for about 1 km before the hills start.

When the gun went off, I stayed right up front in the lead group, feeling very calm, waiting for someone to go. I don’t know if everyone else in the group was waiting for someone to make a move too, but the first km felt incredibly leisurely. People were chatting and joking with each other, not what I expected in an 8k! As soon as we approached the first hill, the race director (Nick Walker) started to break away from the group. I went with him easily, happy that someone finally decided to pick up the pace. Soon we were running side by side, up hills, down hills. We had broke away the rest of the group and it was obvious it was going to be a two person race. I have never met Nick before, but I’ve seen his name plenty of times in race results and knew he is a great runner. We chatted a little bit while running side by side, mostly me asking him when the hills were coming and how long were they. That’s one positive of running the race with the race director!

Eventually at about the 4k mark, I started to feel good, made a surge and ran the next couple of km’s about 10-15 ft ahead of Nick. Once we got off the pavement and into the trails, we approached the final hill before the last LONG descent into the finish. It was here when Nick caught up and put in a surge, right when I was starting to falter slightly and lose my groove. I caught back up on a steep downhill, but once we hit the flat with only a couple of minutes to go, my legs just didn’t have that extra gear I needed to catch back up and pass Nick. He ended up crossing first in 27:45, with me finishing 13 seconds behind him, for 2nd. Also, a big congrats to one of my athletes, Colleen on a strong race and taking 6th place in her age group!

Just about at the finish.
Just about at the finish.

I was happy with how the race had went. Of course, I would have loved to be 14 seconds faster and win, but considering the amount of running I’ve been doing this year, I’ll take it! I felt fast for 95% of the race and was glad the hills didn’t make me their bit#$. I’ve put on about 10 lbs over the last few months, seeing some big gains on the bike and the swim because of it, but was a little worried about how it would affect me on such a hilly run course. Thankfully I felt strong on almost all the uphills. The food spread after was great and the awards went smooth. Thanks to Nick Walker for putting on a great event and for putting the hurt on me the last half of the race. I’ll be back next year for sure! Afterwards, my wife and I walked around and enjoyed the beautiful grounds and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon in beautiful Victoria. I highly recommend doing this race if you can.

Award Ceremony
Award Ceremony

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