Distance runners take aim at Swangard records

The conditions could be ripe for a record when the runners line up Thursday for the 2019 Hertz Pacific Distance Carnival at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.

When the field includes past Olympians and current national champions and team members from Canada and abroad, and a forecast of warm and mostly pleasant evening weather, that’s the recipe for something big.

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The focus is the Canadian 10,000-metre championship for men and women, with national cross country champion Lucas Bruchet vying for his first men’s track title. The No. 1-ranked 10,000m runner in Canada, recent Brigham Young University grad Rory Linkletter, will also step up to the line.

Also contesting the elite Canadian men’s event will be Ben Flanagan, the 2018 NCAA 10,000m champion, U.S. Olympian Jared Ward and American national team member Ben Bruce.

On the women’s side, the event’s national record holder Natasha Wodak of Vancouver will face challenges from Rachel Cliff, who recently shattered the national marathon record with a time of 2:26.56, and Kinsey Middleton. The Canadian women’s championship race is also slated to include Scottish national team member Sarah Inglis and U.S. national team members Sarah Pagano and Elaina Tabb.

But those are just part of the evening’s list of events, which also includes a series of 1500m races, where registration is open to all comers, with a focus on the under-18, u20, senior and wheelchair divisions. There are also a number of ‘Chase the Pace’ 5000m heats prior to the main events, which are scheduled to kick off at 9:15 p.m.

Those looking to participate in one of the 1500m or 5000m events can register at https://tinyurl.com/y2huyjnd, but must do so by midnight June 11.

“I think our sport has focused a lot on participants recently and we have lost touch with our fans. I think this event is a great way to bring all levels of the running community together in a night of racing, while also focusing a lot of energy on the fan experience,” said Bruchet. “The fact there will be fans up close and personal with us elites on the track will be extra motivating for me in the race.”

Elite runners will be competing for prize money, which will double if they post sub 28-minute (for men) and 32-minute (for women) times. The men’s stadium record is currently held by Armando Quintanilla of Mexico, who ran 27:49.24, set at the 1992 Harry Jerome Track Classic, and Nora Leticia Rocha, also of Mexico, at 32:08.82, set at the 2000 Harry Jerome Track Classic.

“We are incredibly excited to bring many of Canada’s best athletes to Burnaby for the Canadian 10,000m championships” said meet director, Chris Winter. “From Day One our goal was to create an environment that would allow our best athletes to chase the world championship and Olympic qualifying marks and we feel the fields we have assembled will give them a great opportunity to do just that.”

The event will also feature live music, pyrotechnics and a beer garden.

Entry for spectators is by donation, with all proceeds going to support youth athletics in B.C.

For more info, visit www.bcathletics.org/pacificdistancecarnival/#meet-info.

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