Gillis restores Canadian pride at Vancouver Sun Run

17:02, April 18, 2011      

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Participants take off at the start of the 27th Vancouver Sun Run in Vancouver, Canada, on April 17, 2011. (Xinhua/Wan Bin)

by Al Campbell

Eric Gillis ended the African domination of the annual Vancouver Sun Run Sunday when the Canadian Olympian broke free of the pack 800 meters from the finish to win the 10-kilometer race under sunny conditions in the Canadian city.

The 30-year-old Nova Scotia native avenged a runner-up finish in last year's race when he overtook 2010 winner Kip Kangogo down the stretch to win in a time 29:06 and claim the 3,000 Canadian dollar winner's prize. A mad dash in the last 200 meters helped Vancouver's Dylan Wykes claim the runner-up position as he pipped Kenyan Kangogo at the finish line in a time of 29:15.

In the 27th annual race that featured more than 49,300 runners, Lucy Njeri ensured the Kenyans wouldn't be shutout as the 32-year-old won the women's race in her first trip to Vancouver in a time of 33:41.

With the weather a cool five degrees Celsius at race time, Gillis, who was 33rd in 10,000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, kept hot on Kangogo's tail through nine kilometers before making his break.

"There was a pack, I think, down to three or four of us towards a kilometer to go. Then it was down to three of us going uphill and it was just Kip and I coming down. So I pulled away and it kind of felt like he wasn't coming with me, so I just pushed stronger and was able to keep making separation," said Gillis, the first Canadian to win the race since 1998.

"I knew I had to kick with them and I was going to give it my all. I knew Kip was a good 1,500-meter runner and he's got a strong kick and if he did go towards the end, I wanted to be there with him. He ended up going uphill and Dylan and I followed and then I made a move coming back down. I was able to hold on."

Kangogo, a 31-year-old who trains out of the Alberta city of Lethbridge, said he felt no disappointment from his race, his first of 2011.

"The race was good. Coming down nine kilometers I started to kick. I started to try to get away from these guys but Eric Gillis was just behind me all the way. He remembers from last year when we came down to a sprint and I took it. And this year I guess he was just sitting behind me," he said.

"I'm happy for Eric Gillis. I won last year and he won this year, so that's the game. That's what makes the game interesting. You can't be winning all the time. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. So it's not always about one guy winning all the time. But there are exchanges all the time. A new guy comes up, a young guy steps up, it makes it interesting."

The Toronto-based Njeri took control of the women's race at about the four or five kilometer mark when she "started pushing" to claim her second victory of the year after capturing the Jordan 5K event last week in Ontario.

"It was not easy. The girls are good, pushing and pushing. So at the beginning I saw it's not easy," she said. "At the beginning it was cold. It was not good for me."

Canadian triathlete Paula Findlay finished runner-up in the women's at 33:47, while compatriot Natasha Wodak was a distant third at 34:01.

Source: Xinhua

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