Vancouver: In an event where the spirit of the Boston Marathon bombing victims weighed heavily, Kenya`s Paul Kimugul won the Vancouver Sun Run on Sunday, while Natasha Fraser successfully defended her women`s crown.
With the 10-km run coming six days after the Boston bombings that killed three and injured more than 160, security was noticeably heightened for the Vancouver event but the race featuring more than 48,000 participants came off without incident.
Kimugul won the elite division in a time of 29:04 to earn the 3,000 Canadian dollar (USD 2,924) winner`s purse. American Ian Burrell (29:17) was second, while Kenyan Edwin Kaitany (29:37) was a distant third.
"After three K ... I see that I`m going to win this race," said Kimugul, a 33-year-old Nairobi native who specializes in half marathons. "Around four kilometres, it was a straight-on sprint all the way through."
Burrell, who finished third at last year`s US Half Marathon Championships, said he was pleased with his run, but added he couldn`t keep up with Kimugul.
"I tried to go with him and tried to hold on as best as I could. Going up the bridge I ended up catching him, but he was just too strong on the downhills. I had to hold on for second."
The Arizona native said he was pleasantly surprised by the upbeat mood around the race following the Boston attacks.
"It wasn`t the somber atmosphere I was sort of expecting," Burrell said. "It was really amazing to see everyone coming out here and essentially saying that we`re not going to let those events deter us from enjoying our lives and getting on with it. I thought it was really inspirational."
Fraser, who comes from Vancouver suburb city of Port Moody, bettered her 2012 winning time by 91 seconds to repeat as women`s champion in 32:04. Fellow Canadians Lindsey Schert (33:01) and Lioudmila Kortchaguina (33:25) finished second and third, respectively.
"It`s much more exciting this year," Fraser said of her win. "I was so nervous that I raced on Friday night, a track race in California, so I was really nervous that I wouldn`t have anything left in my legs."
Among those competing in the race was Hollywood actor Sean Astin. The 42-year-old American, an avid runner best known for playing Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, said the spirit of the bombing victims was evident in the Vancouver race as many of the participants wore blue and yellow, the colors of the Boston Marathon, in solidarity.
"All runners around the world were affected by it, it hurt our hearts," he said. "So this is a great way for me and 50,000 Canadians to acknowledge that and you know, celebrate what`s great about the spirit of runners and the people of that city."
I`ve always said the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit, but that does not seem the way it is at the moment.