Monday, August 18, 2008

Nicholson breaks female record
Nicholson breaks female record
35th annual Community Harvest Festival 25K Road Race
Highest number of runners ever in race history


A record that looked like it may never fall was finally broken in the 35th annual Community Harvest Festival 25K Road Race here Saturday morning.

Jen Nicholson of Cornwall broke a 26-year-old female course record, stopping the clock in one hour 42 minutes two seconds (1:42:02), good enough for 11th overall. She was one second shy of knocking three minutes off the previous standard of 1:45:01, set by Jane Beairsto of Sarnia, Ont., in 1982.

"I'm thrilled and I had it (record) in the back of my mind," said the 39-year-old school teacher, who's currently a stay-at-home mom. "It was a great day, I was running with some fast people, I felt good and I tried to keep the pace up."

Nicholson was well aware that the course record was within grasp.

"The last mile, (race director) Ivan (Gallant) told me I had about seven minutes to break the course record," said Nicholson. "That was definitely motivating at the end."

Allie Keedwell was the second female to finish in 1:56:17, 20th overall, and Bev Walsh was third in 1:59:28, 24th overall.

The race attracted a record field of 68 runners - 67 registered and one unregistered runner ran the race. The previous high was 65 in 2005.

Repeat victory

Nicholson has now won back-to-back Harvest Festival races after winning the 2007 race in 1:52:45. That was good enough for 12th overall.

Nicknamed the "killer course" because of its steep hills, Nicholson said she enjoys the challenges it presents.

"It felt great and it's pretty exciting," said Nicholson. "It's a great course, fun and challenging and it feels good to be finished. But there's something that obviously draws you back."

Nicholson said the most challenging part of the race, which began at the Church of Scotland in Stanchel and finished in front of Community Gardens, is some early hills.

"The first 10K were the hilliest," said Nicholson. "But you know in your head once you get through those that it's going to be OK - just a little rolling after that."

So, how did Nicholson approach the hills?

"To push up them knowing you still have a long way ahead," she answered. "You want to try to maintain a hard but comfortable pace."

The record-setting performance was even more special for Nicholson as her family greeted and congratulated her at the finish line.

"I definitely wouldn't be able to do it without them," she said. "They're my little team."

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