A year that started out with so much promise has dwindled into a season of frustration for the province’s pre-eminent female distance runner.
But despite being shelved by illness for May and June, Kate (Vaughan) Bazeley is determined to scamper over 10 miles of pavement in Paradise, Mount Pearl and St. John’s Sunday.
Bazeley plans to be on the start line for the 85th annual Tely 10, a race she has dominated the past two summers. But unlike the 2010 and 2011 races, Bazeley might not be a lock to reel off a win this weekend.
“I’d love to say I’m feeling great,” said the 28-year-old runner, the city’s female athlete of the year the past two years, “that I’m hoping to run a super fast time.
“But I’m not expecting anything amazing. I’d be happy to put together a good race and hopefully I can contend for the win again.”
Bazeley enjoyed a brilliant start to her season, finishing third among women in the Vancouver Sun Run in April, a hugely popular 10K race that drew 48,904 participants this year.
Later in the month, Bazeley led from start to finish to win Athletics Canada’s half-marathon championship in Montreal, finishing in 1:16.34, just ahead of Leslie Sexton of London, Ont., who stopped the clock in 1:16.54.
Unfortunately for Bazeley, what should have been the start to a great year has been the lone highlight.
Following the half-marathon, Bazeley contracted a virus that left her fatigued and feeling under the weather for upwards of 10 weeks.
“It’s sort of mono-like,” she said. “It’s not stomach sickness. I’m just light-headed and tired.
“I tried to train through it, but it wasn’t getting any better. For all of May and most of June, I thought, ‘It’s OK, I’ll do what I can and it will pass.’
“But apparently some viruses can last eight, 10 or even 12 weeks. So I took some time off, and I’ve only been back running this week.”
Bazeley admitted she toyed with the idea of sitting out this year’s Tely 10, but because the ancient race is her favourite on the racing calendar, and because, “I’m too stubborn”, she will be vying for a third straight win Sunday.
Lousy weather last July 24 — heavy rain and a steady headwind — did not make for good times, although Bazeley’s 57:43 was good enough to come in as the eighth fastest time ever recorded by a woman on the race course.
In 2011, Bazeley blazed her way to a 56:04 clocking. Only one other woman is faster — Nicola Will, who ran 55:47 (the race record) in 1986 following a 56:04 showing in ’84.
Don’t expect similar results this weekend, Bazeley said.
“In a way, it’s kind of like coming back from injury,” said the St. John’s teacher. “My body’s good, but now I’m a bit out of shape. I can deal with that. I can push through and get my fitness back. It’s just unfortunate I’m not at the point where I’d want to be on Sunday.
“I had my first workout Monday, and I’m not anywhere close to where I would want to be at this point in the season.”
After Sunday’s race, Bazeley hopes settle into a training routine that will prepare her for her first marathon, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon Oct. 14. After that, it’s the national cross-country championship Nov. 24 in Vancouver.
“I still have time to properly train and get ready for those,” she said.
The standard to qualify for the world marathon championship is 2:35, and Canada could take up to five women to the worlds. And given her 1:16.34 at the half-marathon in Montreal, Bazeley would have repeat that performance in the same race.
“It’s something I think is possible so that’s why I want to run the marathon in October,” she said. “And if nothing else it’s to get the first marathon over with because they say you learn a lot from the training and the race itself, because it’s a whole different animal.
“And maybe in the spring I’ll have another marathon to focus on and hit that time (2:35) and make that (national) team for the next summer. That would be really great.”
Bazeley has represented Canada twice in 2011, in Japan and Trinidad and Tobago. She was part of the Canadian team taking part in the 2011 Chiba Ekiden Road Race Relay in Japan last November, and finished sixth overall in the 6K North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) cross-country championships in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Once you get a taste of international competition,” she said, “you want more. You want to run so much faster, and I think I can run so much faster.
“This (virus) is a little glitch.”