Catrin Jones is a favourite going into the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. The race is Sunday.

Catrin Jones is a favourite going into the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. The race is Sunday.

A pace all her own

Catrin Jones never reckoned to be a marathon runner. Now she’s the one to beat at Sunday’s marathon race

Catrin Jones’ running heroes don’t include the likes of marathon greats Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan or Rita Jeptoo.

No, it’s much more personal.

Jones, 35, the reigning woman’s champion in the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, gets her biggest inspiration from recreation runners who challenge the 42.2-kilometre torture test.

“People who inspire me the most is anyone who takes on a marathon or a race, people who are out there running sometimes up to six hours. I admire those people more than anything,” said Jones, who has won the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon twice in the last four years.

Jones will be lining up on Sunday for the 35th edition of the Victoria race, hoping to defend the women’s title.

Last year the Fairfield resident finished in an impressive two hours, 43 minutes and three seconds, besting her 2010 winning time by more than nine minutes.

In 2013, Jones went on quite a tear. She took part in more than 20 races competing in everything from half-marathons to ultra-marathons.

Along with the Victoria marathon win, she placed third at the Vancouver Marathon, won the Whistler and Comox half-marathons and placed second at the Canadian championships in Ottawa. To top it off, she took part in the World Francophone Games, representing Canada.

A pelvis injury has slowed her pace this year, but she has quietly been training with coach Jim Finlayson, getting stronger and ready to take on the next challenges.

“Every race is an opportunity to improve,” Jones said in an interview this week. “I look at a way to improve for the next race and the race after that.”

And it’s that attitude which has taken her to the elite level in the sport.

Jonathan Foweraker, elite athlete co-ordinator for the marathon, said having someone local compete at the elite level is not only good for the race but the running community.

“She’s a wonderful athlete,” he said.

“As you are out on your run, you often see her training as well. It’s very encouraging.”

Jones started marathon running in 2006 when she was 27, after a career as a competitive swimmer. Since then she has competed in 17 marathons and has expectations to do more as well as more trail ultra-marathons.

“Every race I try I enjoy (running more) and learn to run better,” she said. “Victoria has a great running community. I don’t think I’d be running if I wasn’t living here.”

It’s not surprising then that the Victoria marathon is one of her favourite races.

“It’s not as overwhelming like the big races, but you still get good competitors,” Jones said.

“And I suppose because it is my hometown it’s a little closer to the heart. I go run in my neighbourhood for a few hours and I’m good to go.”

Can she repeat as champion? “I’d love to, but I have no idea. I’m going into the race with a completely open mind. I’m just thrilled to be able to run this year again.”

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Marathon fast facts

The Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon being held Sunday will cause widespread road closures in many parts of Victoria.

The 42.2-kilometre marathon route will start in downtown Victoria on Menzies Street and wind through the downtown core into James Bay and Beacon Hill Park, along Dallas Road to Gonzales Bay. It will proceed into Fairfield, Oak Bay and Uplands before the turnaround.

The route then returns the same way.

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Sunday’s event is actually four races – marathon, half-marathon, 8K and kids’ race – with a total of about 11,500 runners expected to take part. There’s also a race expo at the Victoria Conference Centre from 3 p.m. Friday to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

MARATHON

Start: 8:45 a.m. on Menzies Street

Finish: About 11:05 a.m. for the men; 11:20 a.m. for women in front of the B.C. legislature on Bellevue Street

HALF-MARATHON

Start: 7:30 a.m. on Menzies Street

Finish: 8:30 to 8:40 a.m.

8K ROAD RACE

Start: 7:15 a.m. starts on Bellevue Street between Menzies and Oswego streets

Finish: 7:50 a.m.

KIDS’ RUN

Start: 10:15 a.m. starts on Menzies just off Kingston

Finish: 10:30 a.m. finishes in the parking lot off Kingston and Menzies streets.