It things go according to plan for Kate Bazeley, Newfoundland’s preeminent distance runner won’t be defending her Tely 10 road race title next summer. Instead, she’ll be getting ready to head to Beijing for the world track and field championship.
If Bazeley is able to run a sub-2:35 time at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October, the St. John’s woman is in line for a spot on Canada’s marathon team for the 2015 world championship in China.
She solidified here status as one of Canada’s top female long distance runners recently in Vancouver, winning the BMO Half Marathon and returning to B.C. to finish second to Canadian Olympian Lanni Marchant in the Scotiabank Half Marathon.
On Sunday, Bazeley proved what we’ve already known around these parts for a while — that she is, undeniably, the best female distance runner in Newfoundland, dominating the women’s field to win The Telegram 10-Mile Road Race by three minutes en route to her third Tely crown after taking the 2010 and ’11 championships.
But the big news on this glorious Sunday morning wasn’t Bazeley’s win, but the fact she came oh-so-close to setting a new course record, falling seven seconds short of Nicola Will’s female standard.
The petite 30-year-old St. John’s native stopped the clock in 55:54, almost breaking Will’s time of 55:47 established in 1986. Bazeley’s time was the 10th best in Sunday’s field, which saw 3,774 finishers.
So Bazeley will have to settle for the honour of posting the second-fastest female time in the old race that goes back 87 years.
“I’m happy with the time, in a way, because it’s a personal best, but coming so close to the record, I’m really disappointed, actually,” conceded Bazeley, who now calls Corner Brook home.
“I feel like I gave it my best, but I guess I’m always going to wonder if I could have found those eight measly seconds.”
Julia Kawamoto finished a strong second in 59 minutes, for 17th place overall. Caroline McIlroy, who won the race in 2005, was third in 1:01.21, Alison Walsh was fourth in 1:03.24 and Jennifer Murrin placed fifth in a time of 1:03.41.
Once again this year, the women dominated the starting field — 2,224 competitors to 1,550 male runners and walkers.
Lisa Harvey, the two-time defending champion from Calgary, did not compete this year. Harvey has seven Tely 10 titles to her credit.
“The two years I previously won, she did race,” reminded Bazeley. “Of course I would have liked to have seen her here. The more girls, the better. The more competition, the better. The more girls up front, the better.”
Bazeley dashed to the front of the race amongst leaders, and didn’t look back.
Kawamoto finishes second
Kawamoto, the former Julia Howard of St. John’s, and track star at Simon Fraser University for four years, when she competed nationally and internationally, had Bazeley in her sights for a while, but eventually succumbed to the notion that a win in her first Tely as a competitive, adult runner might not be in the cards.
“For the first half, I could see her and I felt as if she was within reach, but then about half-way, I was thinking, ‘Nope, I’m probably not going to reel her in,’” Kawamoto said.
“So I just tried to stay steady and stay tough mentally.”
Bazeley was met by her husband, Dr. Peter Bazeley, at the seven-mile mark, and together they ran to the Bannerman Road finish line, stopping the clock in identical times.
Peter Bazeley actually tried to duck the women’s finish line tape, and instead severed it ahead of his wife.
“Yeah,” she smiled, “he nipped me at the line. What a skeet.”
Surprisingly, there wasn’t much banter between the husband and wife duo as they completed the final three miles of the race, even with Kate Bazeley on pace for a record run.
“I actually said to him before Mile 9, ‘Let’s go! Encourage me.’ And then he said a few things,” she said. “We were pretty quiet ... just working hard.”
As for Kawamoto, who’s debut in the Tely was as good as any female we’ve seen in the past (her time is the 13th fastest recorded), the 10 miles is a bit different from the 400 and 800 metre sprint she specialized in at Simon Fraser.
“It’s my first time doing this distance, and 59 minutes is about a minute off where I wanted to be. But in these conditions, I’m pretty happy with that since it’s 10 miles.”
Temperatures at the 8 o’clock start were already close to 20 degrees, and soon reached the mid-20s half-way through.
“I was trying to stay focused for that long,” Kawamoto said. “I’ve never even done a workout that lasted that long.
“This has been an excellent training experience for me, for sure, and I look forward to actually training for it a little bit next year. I was just training for 5Ks this year.”
As for Bazeley, she’s hoping for the world championship next year, and maybe — just maybe — the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after that.
“It’s not necessarily beyond the realm,” she said of Rio in two years time, “but there’s a lot of work to do. Right now, I’m just ticking things off one at a time, and hopefully the worlds are next.
“But no, I wouldn’t say the Olympics are out of the question. Based on my training, I have a lot of room for improvement.”