As a lull between exams at the University of Victoria permitted, I had arranged to go on a camping trip with my girlfriend the weekend of April 12th. Its coincidence with the Fool's run I discovered only later, and made possible the idea of racing.
I went into the race with the hope of staying on David Jackson's heels for as long as possible. My focus is on the TC 10k in two weeks and I wanted to get a gauge on my fitness. It is far too easy in a race to focus on splits and forget that you are, in fact, racing opponents; knowing I wanted to race, I disposed of my watch at the starting line.
The first few kilometres went by comfortably and I was just counting down the minutes until either Jackson or Haraguchi would stride off into the horizon. They didn't, and I found myself in the odd position of leading the race. These roads were my backyard growing up, and over the years I have grown intimate with every bump and corner. On countless occasions the prospect of leading the Fools Run would creep into my mind and would provide motivation when battling a head wind or when pushing up on one of the many cruel hills.
As we entered the heart of Roberts Creek I pushed to the lead and tested Jackson and Haraguchi; both seemed to respond with ease. At the 15km aid station I passed my parents who were responsible for organizing the drinks for athletes. My dad, who has always been my biggest supporter, of course wasn't there; he was instead riding his bike beside us along Beach Avenue with his GoPro camera. As we turned onto Marlene hill, Haraguchi made a move. It was too much for my father, and Jackson slipped to our draft. Jackson lost contact as we merged back onto the highway at the top of Marlene with Haraguchi continuing to push hard. That definitely put a sting in my legs.
After a few minutes the pace subsided, but I was concerned that Jackson would re-establish contact and so pushed past Haraguchi into the lead. As we hit Rat Portage Hill I opened up my stride, the thought of crossing the line creeping into my head for the first time. At 20km I knew it would come down to a battle of kicks and so slowed the pace slightly in anticipation. At the 400m to go sign Haraguchi took the lead. I tucked in behind him, and as we rounded the tight corner into Mission Park I thought I might have left it too late.
At this point I abandoned all hopes of an arm-waving, teeth-smiling, dignified finish and simply sprinted with all I had. People have asked me what I'm thinking when I'm suffering in a race, the truth is it's best not to think, with all the blood rushing to pump the arms and legs I rely only on instinct. Haraguchi was unrelenting and as we approached the line it seemed like a dead heat.
I wasn't concerned with who had won. To be honest, when I saw the time the first thought I had was how I could have broken 70 minutes if I had pushed the pace a bit more. Winning is important, but in the moment I was ecstatic just to be running with the likes of Jackson and Haraguchi, who are both incredibly talented athletes.
Winning the April Fool's Run is a dream, and I am so happy to have achieved it. The volunteers on course and organization for this race are fantastic; I have raced across the world but this race, this course, these people are truly extraordinary.