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Ready, set, go! Oak Bay Kool Half Marathon will envelop municipality Sunday

Runner Britt Karlstrom, here at Oak Bay Marina getting practice cheers from son Markus Swoveland, 7, is gearing up for this Sunday’s (May 15) Oak Bay Kool Half Marathon. - Sharon Tiffin/News staff
Runner Britt Karlstrom, here at Oak Bay Marina getting practice cheers from son Markus Swoveland, 7, is gearing up for this Sunday’s (May 15) Oak Bay Kool Half Marathon.
— image credit: Sharon Tiffin/News staff

For a first-time halfer, Britt Karlstrom is rather relaxed.

Just days before the Oak Bay Kool Half-Marathon, Karlstrom’s focus is on mind over matter.

“It’s amazing what the body is able to accomplish with the right support and realizing that your limitations are really in your head,” said the 37-year-old runner.

Though this Sunday’s race will be her first half, Karlstrom completed the Royal Victoria Marathon in 2001. “The body is able to take on more than you ever imagined.”

To get to this point, the mother of a seven-year-old boy has been running with a group. The self-professed fair-weather runner shed her distaste for rain and wind as she trained the last three months in preparation for the 21-kilometre Oak Bay event.

“It’s totally exciting to be involved with hundreds or thousands of people and you know that some of those people … (got) into running for various reasons,” she said. “Some of them have lupus, some have survived cancer. You think if they can do it, I can do it. It’s very inspirational.”

A half-marathon is unique from other race distances, said Dave Milne, owner of Peninsula Runners, the company that stages the event.

“(Halfs) require dealing with hills and valleys,” he said. “One minute you’re up, then the next you’re like, ‘oh God, when is this going to end?’

“A lot of people would be running this race (at a) faster (pace) than the (TC) 10K because they’re better runners. This is the next step up from the 10K.”

This year’s Oak Bay Half has about 900 registrants, coming from all over North America and even some from overseas.

The route takes runners from the starting line on Oak Bay Avenue at Wilmot Place, down Newport Avenue and through the streets of South Oak Bay. Then, it loops out to Beach Drive, which it follows all the way to Loon Bay Park before finishing back in the Village.

Runners start at 8 a.m., or 7 a.m. for those who take longer than two-and-a-half hours.

As participants cross the finish line, a voice familiar to many will announce their arrival.

Actor Matt Hill has voiced Care Bear Tenderheart in the new version of the show, as well as Raphael in the third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He also played a deputy in the Jackie Chan comedy Shanghai Knights.

The Vancouver-based actor recently completed an 11,000-mile (17,700-kilometre) run across North America, called Run for One Planet. He also announced this year’s TC10K.

“I love runners and, no pun intended, I’ve got a few miles under my belt,” Hill said. “I respect the run and I know what it takes to run 10K to a half marathon, all the way to a full marathon. … I get lit (up) from them, seeing them reaching for their greatest run dream. It just fires me up every time.”

Without the support of the thousands of people who line the route on race day, the half would be difficult to compete, Milne said.

“It means everything,” he said of the cheering crowds.

“I think the residents of Oak Bay, they’re a nice group of people and I think they (know how to support the runners). Success breeds success, and I think Oak Bay has a lot of that.”

Karlstrom will watch for her husband, Jon Swoveland and son, Markus, cheering her from the sidewalk – that is, after Markus completes the Krazy Kids Kilometre.

“That’s really important, too,” Karlstrom said of the support. “It’s heartwarming to see those people out there just for you.”

ecardone@vicnews.com

Wee runners

• Six-year-old Shira Fisher, who has spinal muscular atrophy, will officially start the Krazy Kids Kilometre race, which begins at 10:30 a.m.

• The one-kilometre race, for kids under 10, carries a $10 entry fee, all of which goes to the Help Fill a Dream Foundation.

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