Watson ‘defends’ Vancouver’s streets, wins BMO Half-Marathon

Jane Murage wins gold as fastest woman

Two hometown runners were on the podium of the BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon Sunday. Rob Watson won gold in the men’s even and Dayna Pidhoresky nabbed silver in the women’s race.

Watson, 31, won the half-marathon in one hour, 4.48 minutes, pocketing $2,600 as the race winner and fastest Canadian, but missing an additional $1,000 bonus for falling only 2.12 seconds short of the course record.

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He couldn’t hold back his feelings about his city.

“Vancouver is the most beautiful city in our country, probably the most beautiful city in North America,” he said. “I’m proud to be a Vancouver resident and proud to represent the city.”

He had company for the first half of the race but pulled away at the 10-km mark to put distance between himself and Kenyan racer Willy Kimosop, who finished second in 1:05:43, and Leonard Koech, also of Kenya, who came third in 1:06:02.

“I was very happy with the way things played out. I was just looking for a strong effort and hopefully a win. I was stoked to achieve both,” said Watson, who trains in Stanley Park two to three times a week. “It is certainly sweet to win a Vancouver race, I kind of look at it as being the home-team guy and I dig representing Vancouver. Was very happy to defend our streets.”

Watson, who lives in Kitsilano, used the half-marathon as his last test event before the Ottawa Marathon later this month.

He dropped an extra appreciation for the people who pull off the Vancouver race.

“I just wanted to send kudos to the Vancouver marathon society for organizing such an amazing event and also a huge thanks to all the volunteers for helping out. These races could never happen without such dedication and commitment. It was a fantastic event.”

Women’s champion, Kenyan Jane Murage, won the 21.1-kilometre race in 1:12:53, beating Pidhoresky by 21 seconds and U.S. bronze-medalist Allison Macsas by 37 seconds.

In the marathon — which took a different course than the half-marathon and led racers west along 49th Avenue, around UBC and down Spanish Banks through Kitsilano and over the Burrard Bridge before circling Stanley Park and finishing downtown — the leaders were lock-step for the first half of the event.

Luka Chelimo and Daniel Kipkoech were side-by-side for half the race, clocking the same time at the five- and 21.1-km marks before Chelimo hit the gas near the Burrard Bidge to put nearly 15 seconds between himself and Kipkoech. Chelimo won in 2:18:37, 23 seconds ahead of Kipkoech who came second in 2:18:50.

2010 half-marathon winner Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, Alta. came third in 2:19:21.

Toronto runner and Canadian Master’s record holder Lioudmila Kortchaguina won the women’s marathon in 2:37:37. With the win, Kortchaguina, 43, recorded the second-fastest time among Canadian women this year.

In the Vancouver marathon, she beat U.S. racer Hirut Guangul by nearly four minutes and outpaced North Vancouver’s Ellie Greenwood, who was injured in a bike accident in April, by roughly 10 minutes. Greenwood finished second in 2014 and claimed bronze this year.

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