Heat doesn’t deter runners from tackling 'Killer Course'
Coffin wins third Harvest Festival race since 1998
The Journal Pioneer
KENSINGTON – Alex Coffin drew from many years of experience to win his third Harvest Festival 25K Road Race since 1998 on Saturday morning.
Coffin, a 40-year-old native of Saint John, N.B., was the first of a record field of 70 runners to hit the finish line, coming in at one hour, 31 minutes, 56 seconds (1:31:56). The 36th annual race, dubbed the “Killer Course” for its challenging hills, began in Stanchel and finished in front of Community Gardens.
“I’m a race organizer myself and people always complain if you have a hilly course,” said Coffin. “I actually really appreciate it, (race director) Ivan Gallant does a great job and any chance I get to do this race I like to do it.”
Rebecca Pike, 23, was the top female, finishing 14th overall in 1:57:22, and Gary Simmonds, 50, was the top 50-and-over runner in 1:54:38, 13th overall.
A tough course to run in the best of conditions, runners also had to deal with extremely hot temperatures. Coffin said the most challenging part is the first 5K.
“Those are the steepest hills and there are two monsters right away,” said Coffin. “The first two miles are a killer.”
Stanley Chaisson, who set the current course record of 1:25:51 in 2007, led early and finished second overall in 1:33:12 Ironically, it was Coffin’s course record of 1:28:21 set in 1998 that Chaisson broke.
Mark McCosham (1:41:26), Rob MacKenzie (1:42:23) and Scott Clark (1:43:51) rounded out the top five.
“Stanley was really strong on the hills,” said Coffin, who also won the 2004 run in 1:32:54. “I just tried to hang with him and I respect Stanley an awful lot. I know how fast he is. . .
“I didn’t want to get into a boxing match that way. I let him take the hills hard and tried to stay steady, and then I thought I’d make my move at about the halfway mark. It wasn’t as much a move as it was just staying steady because it was so hot.”
Coffin passed Chaisson at “about the eight-mile mark” and followed through on his strategy.
“I’ve run it (race) before and knew what I had to deal with,” said Coffin. “With Stanley being so fast on the hills, I tried to be more steady, not panic and stay within range of him.”
As for dealing with the hot conditions, Coffin, who also won the 11.667-kilometre Dunk River Run in Central Bedeque on July 19 in 40:18, said he was more conservative than normal and drank as much water as he could.
“I ran two marathons down in Barbados and I’ve run in the 30s before,” he added. “I kept thinking of that.”
The Journal Pioneer
KENSINGTON – Rebecca Pike had a memorable debut at the 36th annual Community Harvest Festival 25K Road Race on Saturday morning.
The 23-year-old from near Pittsburgh, Pa., was the top-placing female runner in one hour 57 minutes 22 seconds (1:57:22). She was 14th overall out of the record field of 70 runners.
“It was a good challenge and I really liked it,” said Pike, who began a grad program in bio medical sciences, with a focus on marine natural products, in February at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown.
Sarah MacKinnon was the second female to hit the finish line in 2:02:48, 21st overall, and Allie Keedwell was third in 2:04:22, 28th overall.
Jen Nicholson, who set the female record of 1:42:02 last year, did not run.
Pike, who resides in Charlottetown and is a big fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers, admitted the course’s tough early hills, along with hot temperatures, provided challenges.
“I bought this water belt yesterday (Friday) evening because everybody was telling me I should have one for long runs,” said Pike. “I’m so glad I did, even though I spent a lot of money, because I wouldn’t have been able to make it through the first 10 or so kilometers without it.”
Pike, who admitted she needs to do more hill training, also developed a few new fans along the route.
“The first 10 kilometres or so was really hilly and it went by quickly because my mind was occupied with just wanting to get over the hills,” said Pike. “Then about mile nine or 10, I was, ‘Oh my gosh, I need water.’
“I had a little bit of tea with honey in it (in her water belt), but I just wanted some water dumped on myself because it was so hot. There was a family along the side of the road and they gave me some water that I dumped on myself, and every few kilometres after that they drove past and offered me water to keep dumping on myself.
“The last five or so kilometers was a bit long and everyone was saying, ‘It’s just around the corner.’
“I kept going and going and it wasn’t around the corner. When I saw the end it was a pretty good feeling.”
High praise for Harvest Fest Run
Recently, (Aug. 15) I ran in the Harvest Festival Run. It was a gruelling 25-kilometre course with many hills at the beginning and extreme heat all the way through.
Although I’ve been racing competitively for 29 years this ranks as one of my most challenging races ever. I felt fortunate to have completed my first attempt at this race in 2:12:12.
I almost certainly will run this well organized race again.
Alex Coffin, who won the race, had an impressive time of 1:31:56.
The race, which began in Stanchel and finished near the Community Gardens in Kensington.
Race co-co-ordinator Even Gallant and the volunteers, especially those passing out the water, did an outstanding job.
The post-race awards and reception inside the Community Gardens was professionally done. It’s nice to see an award for the 50-plus person with the best time.
A lot of class was shown for the runner who came in last with a dedication award for fighting off a number of obstacles (including blindness) to compete in the race. I spoke to him at the end of the race and his determination was inspiring.
I am from Newfoundland and have had many opportunities to visit your scenic province. I’ve always enjoyed it here and my training runs and races here have been extra special.
In two Prince Edward Island marathons I’ve been able to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Running here has given me a unique perspective. The breath-taking scenery has given me a different runner’s high.
Thank you Prince Edward Island for giving me the opportunity to race here now and I’m sure in the foreseeable future.