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Okanagan Marathon goes off under perfect conditions Sunday
Under near perfect conditions on Sunday, the 19th running of the BMO Okanagan Marathon saw first-time winners on both the men's and women's sides, local runners who claimed titles, veterans who continues to churn out the miles and great stories of perseverance.
Camrose runner Brendan Lunty finished first to become the new Okanagan Marathon champion finishing with a time of 2:30:28, the best time at the event in the past three years.
Merritt's Hans Aabye and Scott Tremblay of Kaleden finished second and third overall.
Lunty was thrilled to win his first ever BMO Okanagan Marathon.
“It was absolutely perfect, a great race, I took three full minutes off my personal best time.” Lunty said. “Being the champion feels fantastic. I credit all those four-a.m. wake up calls, there are no short cuts and you have to work hard.”
Lunty started the race in second place, but once he took over the lead he never looked back.
“I kept waiting to see if I would crash, but I underestimated myself, the spectators and encouragement I received was incredible," he said.
On the women’s side, Calgary runner Allison Blackmore won in her first appearance at the BMO Okanagan Marathon with a personal best time of 3:05:52.
It was her first time winning a marathon in her fifth full race.
“It felt great out there, the weather was perfect and it’s a beautiful, flat, fast course, said Blackmore. “It was nice having the cyclists ahead of me to set the pace.”
The men’s half marathon also saw a new champion crowned when Matt Mead of Salmon Arm finished first.
“It’s a really nice flat, fast, course and there are no words to describe how it felt to win, you could say, it was awesome,” he said.
Spectators lined the course to cheer on the runners and most runners were delighted that the weather conditions were so favourable.
Leading a strong contingent of locals was Christi Lovig of Kelowna who won the women's half marathon.
The 10K men’s run was won by Kelowna runner John Gay followed by Kelowna runners Sean Bergman and Jeff Vogt. First place in the women’s event went to Melissa Currie with Kelowna’s Natasha Lunt coming in second followed by Chelsea Bergman also of Kelowna.
As always, the marathon featured runners of all stripes taking part. Trevor Wakelin of White Court, AB, completed his goal of completing his 70th marathon in a time of 4:15. Wakelin was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 and was thrilled with the support he felt on the course from his friends and family who pushed him in his wheelchair the entire 42.2K distance.
“It was great. I’m grateful to everyone who ran for me today. I had so many people cheering me on. It has been an incredible experience for me and I have met wonderful people and close friends along the road,” he said.
His brother Neil Wakelin completed his 140th marathon by pushing Trevor across the finish line.
“Trevor was in great spirits," said Neil. "We were keeping a good pace with four people running the whole distance and 20 people involved in Team Trevor in total. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Kelowna Oncologist, Dr. Juanita Crock was thrilled to cross the finish line after collecting pledges totalling $77,000 for a new program to treat cancer research at the Kelowna Cancer Centre.
“I was out of gas for the last half an hour but very relieved to have finished.” Crock said. “The new program is a different way of treating women with breast cancer with radiation and I am delighted to have raised the money for the British Columbia Cancer Foundation.”
As many as 3,500 participants took part in this weekend family festival and Boston qualifying event. Saturday welcomed the Running Room’s Free Friendship Run, 5K, and the 2nd Annual BMO ABC Kids Run with over 200 youngsters completing their 1K event. Sunday featured the 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon events.
BMO Okanagan Marathon Final Results
1. Brendan Lunty, Camrose, AB
2. Hans Aabye – Merritt, BC
3. Scott Tremblay – Kaleden, BC
1. Allison Blackmore, Calgary, AB
2. A. Danielle Bourgeois, Edmonton, AB
3. Tara Risling, Calgary, AB
21.1 km Half Marathon Male
1. Matt Mead, Salmon Arm, BC
2. Adrian Harvey, Calgary, AB
3. Jay Fourie, Vernon, BC
21.1 km Half Marathon Female
1. Christy Lovig, Kelowna, BC
2. Sharleen Balogh, Prince George, BC
3. Lisa Heidt, Vernon, BC