Third race in Vancouver Island series runs this Sunday

The Cedar 12K is expected to attract more than 500 runners on Sunday, Feb. 10.

If you’re planning a scenic Sunday drive through Cedar this coming weekend, you may want to pack lawn chairs and a vuvuzela or two. Vancouver Island runners will visit Cedar Sunday, Feb. 10 for the Cedar 12K, a 12-kilometre road running race hosted by Nanaimo’s Bastion Running Club.

The Cedar 12K, presented by the Vancouver Island Runners’ Association and Adidas, is the third race of the 2013 Frontrunners Island Race Series (FIRS). This year’s race is expected to draw more than 500 runners, says race organizer John Durkin.

“I just checked EventsOnline,” Durkin said, “and we have 456 registered so far. I have three more mail-in entries here to key in, and we usually get close to 100 day-of-race entries.”

A handful of local runners will be among those turning out for Sunday’s race. John Mountain trains with the Ladysmith Striders, a “casual” group of runners that routinely convenes at Esquires Coffee House on Sunday mornings. Mountain said he’s run 1,000 miles a year for the last 10 years, logging an average of five miles per day on training days. He’s run 13 marathons, one 56-kilometre ultramarathon and more than 40 FIRS races. Mountain has competed in the Cedar 12K eight times now, crossing the finish line in as little as “51 minutes.” He’ll run the race again this year, he said, alongside six of his fellow Striders.

Mountain described the Cedar course as a “challenging race” with “challenging hills” that make runners work hard toward the end.

The route is an “out-and-back” that runs north from the North Cedar Intermediate School along Furn Road before looping back onto Cedar Road. Runners follow Cedar and Haslam roads south onto Adshead Road, turn around and retrace their steps back to their starting point. The course crosses gently rolling terrain east of the Nanaimo and Haslam rivers, challenging runners with low-profile hills Mountain described as “mean.”

The Cedar 12K is one of eight races included in this year’s FIRS, Mountain said. The FIRS features races ranging from Sidney’s March 10 five-kilometre sprint to a half marathon scheduled for Courtenay on March 24. VIRA schedules two races per month from January through April, Mountain said, three of which are sanctioned as part of the Timex BC Road Running Series. Provincially-sanctioned races like Sidney’s and the Courtenay half marathon draw high-calibre runners to the Island from the Lower Mainland, Mountain said. Unsanctioned runs are lower-profile, Mountain added, but still draw runners from as far away as Port McNeil.

According to Durkin, Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield turned out for last year’s race in Cedar, falling 25 seconds shy of the men’s course record set by Victoria’s Jim Finlayson in 2011. The women’s open record stands at 42:06, set in 2003 by Lucy Smith, Durkin added.

According to http://racedaytiming.ca/series, Ladysmith Strider Pauline Naidoo set a course record for women aged 65-69 in 2010 by running the course in 1:05:08.

Registration for the Cedar 12K is available online until midnight Wednesday, Feb. 6. Online registration costs $25 for adults and $20 for students. Late registration is available in person for a fee of $30 for adults and $25 for students. Race-day registration fees of $35 apply for all last-minute entries made at North Cedar Intermediate School at 2215 Gould Rd. in Cedar. Race time is 11 a.m.