The Oak Bay Half-Marathon celebrates its 12th year this weekend with runners pounding the Oak Bay pavement Sunday, May 29.
The run, which also includes a 10K, a relay and a kids’ run, has become a staple in Greater Victoria’s running community. Originally started by Dave Milne, the event has been passed to Nick Walker, owner of Frontrunners in Saanich, and Sarah Sproull, a Frontrunners employee and avid runner.
The two took it over two years ago from Milne.
The two expect a big jump in participation this year. “Last year we had around 1,280 participants. This year we are expecting around 2,000 people,” Walker said.
One of the racers to watch is Victoria’s Jim Finlayson, the defending champion heading into this year’s event. “Jim Finlayson has won it a few times. He just won (his age category) at the (Vancouver) Sun Run,” Walker says.
Finlayson backed up his strong showing in Vancouver with an 11th place overall finish in the TC 10K this year as well.
He won his age category easily, claiming victory by more than a minute to edge out his closest pursuer.
This year’s Oak Bay Half-Marathon course has undergone some major changes. “We moved the course. The start (and) finish is now on Windsor Road, beside Windsor Park. It used to start and finish in Oak Bay Village. This way it frees up all of Newport and Oak Bay Avenue so it makes it easier for any residents that live in the area,” Walker says.
Although the starting area has been changed, Walker says the goal for the course remains the same.
“Luckily it’s fairly flat. We avoid as many hills as possible. It’s crazy scenic because it goes all the way along the waterfront and up through the Victoria Golf Club and (almost) all the way up to (the Royal Victoria Yacht Club) and then back,” Walker says.
For those looking to cheer on family, friends, and co-workers, Walker recommends watching from Windsor Park. Spectators will be able to watch both the first and last kilometre as the course wraps around the park.
As the race progresses, spectators need only walk across Newport Avenue where they can watch racers run along Beach Drive by the Oak Bay Marina.
For road closure details, see the related information on this page or visit oakbayhalf.com.
For those not quite up to the test of a half-marathon, the event also offers a 10-kilometre run, a relay, which follows the same course as the half-marathon, and a Kids’ Fun Run, a one-kilometre run around Windsor Park.
The relay features teams of four, with each member running a different part of the course. At each of three exchange zones, approximately five kilometres apart, a sash is passed from one team member to the other for the new runner to begin their part of the course.
Find more details about the event at oakbayhalf.com, along with more information for racers and spectators.
* The Oak Bay Half-Marathon runs this Sunday, May 29, beginning at 8 a.m. (early start 7 a.m.) from Windsor Street by Windsor Park in Oak Bay.
The race has a four-hour time limit with the last participant off the course by noon.
The route loops from Windsor, taking in St Patrick, Central, Newport, Oak Bay Avenue, Hampshire, McNeil and Falkland before reaching Beach Drive. The turnaround for the half-marathon is at Ripon where runners will return the same way.
* All residents on the route have been notified of the race. For safety, residents are asked to park off the race route, or on a side street. Police, traffic control personnel and volunteer marshals will direct residents across the flow of runners and off the race course when safe to do so. Access to Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Victoria Golf Club is via Margate. Beach Drive will be a rolling open behind the last runner.
* Estimated closure times:
Start / Finish Zone, Windsor Road, between Transit and Newport – closed from 6 a.m. to noon.
Windsor/Transit to Oak Bay Ave/Hampshire – closed from 7:55 to 8:35 a.m.
Oak Bay Ave/Hampshire to Beach/Falkland to Finish – closed from 8:05 a.m. to 11:05 a.m.
Beach/Falkland to Beach/Windsor – closed from 8:10 to 10:55 a.m.
Beach/Windsor to Beach/Rutland – closed from 8:20 to 10:25 a.m.
Beach/Rutland to Beach/Ripon – closed from 8:30 to 10 a.m.