Geoff Martinson

Geoff Martinson

Still running strong

Running champ Geoff Martinson returns to Sunday's Pioneer 8K for kickoff of Island Race Series

This is Geoff Martinson taking a step back from running: winning the 2013 Island Race Series; placing second at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria half marathon; placing fourth at the TC10K.

It’s a record that would be the envy and dream of almost any runner in the city. But for the 27-year-old Vikes varsity alumnus, it was an easy-going season after coming off three years of full-time training and 160 kilometre weeks.

But its hard to stay away from running – especially when a start line shows up outside your door, in this case the 2012 McNeill Bay half marathon in Oak Bay.

“The half marathon started right outside where I lived. I thought OK, I’ll wake up and go run the half,” Martinson said. He breezed through the 21.1 km undulating seaside course in 1:11:08 for the win, and finished with a seven minute gap over second place.

Then GoodLife Fitness invited Martinson to run its field of half-marathon elites for 2012 and he grabbed a solid second in 1:05:39 (in 2013 he topped that with 1:05:18 and another second place finish).

Victoria running legend and organizer Bob Reid invited him into the Island Race Series, eight road races that offer distances from 5 km to a 21.1 km. He won the five races he entered, enough to take the overall series title.

“I planned to do one race, and pretty soon I was doing the whole race series and extra races on the weekend. I raced quite a lot, but it is a different level competing locally and provincially, as opposed to competing internationally. It’s not the same stress as elite track racing,” he said.

“Those distances are new for me. I ran a personal best about every time I ran them. That was fun.”

This Sunday, Martinson will be part of a healthy field of elite runners leading off more than 650 athletes at the Harriers Pioneer 8K, the first race in the 2014 Island Race Series.

Among the top men are Kevin Friesen (Vancouver), Adam Byles (Australia) and Victoria’s Jim Finlayson; elite women include Natasha Wodak (Vancouver), Sabrina Wilkie (Vancouver), Dayna Pidhoresky (Ontario) and Lucy Smith of Sidney.

After graduating from UVic in biochemistry, Martinson set his sights on the 2012 London Olympics, and trained through a national program for the 1,500m event. He made the semifinal round in the 1,500m in the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, Korea, in 2011, a highlight of his career, but didn’t make the cut for the Olympics.

“It was a good experience, and there were great moments and bad moments,” he said. “The goal was to make the Olympics, and that I didn’t make it was a disappointment.”

In the fall of 2012, Martinson started work as a real estate agent through Newport Realty. His training schedule isn’t what it once was, but remains daunting – 100 to 120 km per week. “Some weeks are better than others. I try to get in a rhythm and get out every day.”

This year Martinson plans to take on fewer races, but he’ll hit a few of the shorter Island Series events – Bazan Bay 5K and the Hatley Castle 8K –  otherwise he’ll be offering support from the sidelines.

For the Pioneer 8K, he’s aiming for a sub-24 minute run, which he did in 2013 with a 23:49 race. “I should be (running) in a few again this year, and out cheering everyone on. These races great events to be part of.”

The Harriers Pioneer 8K is Sunday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m., starting and finishing at Saanich Fairgrounds, 1528 Stelly’s X Rd.

To register for the Island Race Series or individual races, see