The 43rd running of the Prairie Inn Harriers Pioneer 8K will act as the BC provincial championships happening on Sunday, January 8, 2023, in North Saanich.
The race is the first road race of the year in Canada. The Pioneer 8K is also the first race of the Vancouver Island Race Series as well as the BC Super Series.
The course is gently rolling and is considered fast. The surface is asphalt and is run on quiet residential roads starting and finishing at the Tourist Information Centre off the Pat Bay Highway (17) in North Saanich.
Event records are 22:58 by Carey Nelson from his 1986 running on a previous route named the Brentwood Bay 8K in 1986. The women’s record is 25:28 by Natasha Wodak on the Central Saanich route in 2013. Both athletes are from Vancouver and both are two-time Olympians.
The current course records are 25:55 by Wodak from the 2020 running of the event. Tristan Woodfine, one of Canada’s top marathon runners, set the new course record in 2022 at 23:10, just 12 seconds off of Nelson’s 36-year-old event record.
Wodak, who may return for the 2023 edition, her tenth, is the current national record holder in the marathon at 2:23:12. She broke Malindi Elmore’s record in Berlin this past September. Wodak is the former 10,000m and half-marathon national record holder. Her 25:28 performance is the fastest road 8K in Canada, all-time, however, official records are not kept for the distance.
Wodak won the race eight of the nine times she has competed. In the one year that she did not win, she finished second.
Like the Pioneer 8K, the Vancouver Island Race Series is entering its 43rd year. There are a total of eight races taking place in North Saanich, Sidney, Colwood, Sooke, Cobble Hill, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Courtenay.
Runners of all abilities may enter single races or purchase a season pass for just $175.