Running the full 21-kilometres of a half marathon is impressive in itself, taking the average male just more than two hours.
But conquering the race without any prior distance training — and claiming first place — is an altogether new level of impressive.
That was the result for new Terrace runner Peter Furlong on April 9 in Prince Rupert, when he switched from the 8K into the 21K race last minute to join his buddies.
Having moved to Terrace last November and joining the Running in Terrace Facebook group, Furlong said he had only run long distances a few times.
“Mainly I was just doing short distances, like 5 or 6K on my own, so I was really daunted by a race for 21K,” he said. But with all his buddies in the longer race, he decided last minute to try it — and blew everybody away.
Nervous about burning out, Furlong decided to take an early lead.
“I was going to try to get a big lead on the pack, so that as I tire towards the end, which was kind of inevitable because of my lack of training… I wanted to make it as difficult as possible for people to catch me,” he said.
Furlong took off from the shot, running the first two kilometres in close to 3:30 minutes per kilometre. He claimed the lead in those early kilometres, and managed to maintain a good pace throughout the whole race, averaging 4:04 minutes. Taking advantage of downhill stretches, Furlong finished in 1:25:28, just a minute before second place runner Colin Scott from Prince Rupert.
Though Furlong says he is “not a particularly skilled runner,” other locals seemed to indicate otherwise.
“You should have seen him fly,” commented Skeena Middle School track and field coach Megan Reid on Facebook. “I was sure he’d gone out too fast to hold onto his commanding lead… but I was wrong!” she said, adding later that he is humble about his speed.
“He is always out with the running group…never gives the impression that our pace is slow,” she said.
Runner Joe Pelletier said much the same.
“Peter’s a pretty humble guy. He has so much ability and I don’t think even he knows what he’s capable of,” Pelletier said, adding that Furlong runs with anyone and at any pace, even though he can lap almost everyone.
But Furlong deflected the praise, pointing to the other Terrace runners and their medals.
“The Running in Terrace group is the real winner,” he said, referring to the Facebook group that regularly runs together and is looking to spur on anyone interested in the sport.
“Seven medals to Terrace I believe.”
Race results were posted, but Pelletier says they were not accurate. He estimates there were 20-30 Terrace runners in Prince Rupert for the races, which included an 8K race, half marathon, and relays.
“The coolest aspect was there were several generations of runners who made the trip,” Pelletier said. “There are some really impressive young kids on the Skeena/Caledonia team that raced the relay or the 8K. And legends like Mike Reid and Ed Ansems came out, and it’s always fun to be around them.”