Brendan Lunty of Camrose, Alta. won the 19th annual BMO Okanagan Marathon under sunny skies on Thanksgiving Sunday.
Lunty finished in two hours, 30 minutes and 28 seconds, the best time at the event in the past three years, followed by Hans Aabye of Merritt, at 2:38:54 and Scott Tremblay of Kaleden, at 2:43:59.
“It was absolutely perfect, a great race, I took three full minutes off my personal best time,” said Lunty. “Being the champion feels fantastic. I credit all those 4 a.m. wake-up calls. There are no short cuts, and you have to work hard.”
Lunty started the race in second place, but once he took over the lead, never looked back.
“I kept waiting to see if I would crash, but I underestimated myself, the spectators and encouragement I received was incredible.”
In the women’s marathon, Calgary’s Allison Blackmore won in her BMO debut with a personal best 3:05:52.
“It felt great out there, the weather was perfect and it’s a beautiful, flat, fast course,” said Blackmore, of her first-ever marathon win.
Danielle Bourgeois of Edmonton finished second less than a minute later and Tara Risling of Calgary was third at 3:14:23.
The men’s half marathon also saw a new champion crowned with Matt Mead of Salmon Arm posting a 1:19:20 in a very close finish.
It was also his first win at the BMO Okanagan Marathon and second time running the course.
Following in second place was Adrian Harvey of Calgary at 1:19:25, while Jay Fourie of Vernon placed third at 1:19:50.
In first place for the women was Kelowna’s Christy Lovig in 1:23:16. Sharleen Balogh of Prince George was second in 1:25:12, and Lisa Heidt of Vernon placed third at 1:27:09.