Fast finish for race winner
Paul St. Amant overtakes Sean Seville to win 11th annual Fall Challenge half-marathon
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
A late push towards the finish line propelled Paul St. Amant past the frontrunner to win the 11th annual Fall Challenge.
A determined St. Amant hunted down Sean Seville with about 1.5 kilometres to go to complete the half-marathon race in one hour, 23 minutes and 14 seconds on a sundrenched Sunday morning on the Red Willow trails.
“I had spotted him at the halfway mark and I was about two minutes behind. I thought at the time he was too far away to catch up to but over time I could see him more often and I was getting closer,” said St. Amant, a spry 50-year-old from Bonnyville who grew up in Jackfish Lake, Sask.
Seville was surprised how quickly St. Amant closed the gap.
“I just gave it everything I had but there was a really fast guy on my tail catching me,” said the 29-year-old St. Albert runner. “I didn't see it coming so my hat’s off to him.”
Seville’s second-place time of 1:23:29 was a personal best.
“I started off pretty fast and in the past I’ve had trouble maintaining my halfway time in the second half but today I was able to get really close to that,” he said.
The half-marathon, 10K and 5K runners and walkers were wearing the same coloured bib numbers so it was difficult at times for the race leaders to know who they were up against.
“I didn't really have a plan as I wasn't sure how many guys were ahead of me. Once I could see there was just one and he was in sight, I felt I could pass him if I kept up the pace,” St. Amant said.
“There was only a couple of people I saw in front of me right off the gun and I took off at my own pace and it was a bit easier for me to get comfortable,” Seville added.
It was hard to miss either runner on the trails. St. Amant was decked out in a blinding orange T-shirt and Seville was sporting a stylish blue bandana.
“That’s my buff. It’s the only article I can have a little bit of style,” Seville said.
St. Amant was pretty pumped to win his Fall Challenge debut and the same race his 17-year-old daughter, Desiree, was entered in. Desiree’s time in her first half-marathon was 1:55:09 for 53rd place out of 130 finishers.
“It was pretty special and I was pretty excited seeing her come in under two hours on her first try,” said St. Amant of the fifth race this year he ran with Desiree, who prefers shorter distances like the five or 10K.
The plant superintendent at Cenovus Foster Creek plant was competing in his fifth half-marathon of the year and his sixth race event of various distances in six consecutive weekends.
He ran the Cold Lake half-marathon Aug. 17 (1:26:26 for first place out of 23 runners), Quebec City marathon Aug. 25 (2:55:21 for 23rd overall), St. Paul Rodeo mile Aug. 31 (5:19 for fourth overall), Queen City marathon in Regina on Sept. 8 (personal-best 2:52:13 for fifth overall) and the Terry Fox Run in Bonnyville on Sept. 15 (first in the eight km).
“After so many races in a row I was surprised to still run that pace I did. Now I need to take a short break before I start training for New York Marathon (on Nov. 3),” said St. Amant, a competitive runner for 10 years who set a half-marathon personal best of 1:22:33 in the River Run Classic on July 14 in Saskatoon.
St. Amant also qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon and will be joined by two brothers and a cousin.
Seville was equally as excited as St. Amant to do as well as he did in his first Fall Challenge.
“I like running on my own turf. I can’t imagine someone pounding this pavement more than I do. Even yesterday I was up here through Riverlot 56 with my dog doing the rounds,” said the civil engineer. “A couple of my friends I run with at the Running Room were down at the (water) station at Lions Park and they were giving me high fives and that means a lot. It makes me feel like I’m running for the community.”
The Paul Kane High School alumnus is addicted to the proverbial runner’s high after a lengthy dry spell.
“I wasn't a big runner in high school, but when I was really young as a child I ran everywhere so now I feel like I’m tapping into my roots these days,” said Seville.
His busy race schedule included a second-place finish in the Leading Edge RunWild half-marathon at 1:27:16, legs three and five in the Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache and the half-marathon at the Edmonton Marathon.
“My leg three (in the Death Race) was really fast. I was trying to make up for a bit of lost time from my guy getting caught in a hailstorm,” Seville said of the CB Army team that placed 34th overall in 15:47:35.
Seville was the leading St. Albert male at the Edmonton half-marathon at 1:27:27 for 30th overall. He ranked 26th among males for 10th place in his 20 to 29 age division after running the event’s five km the day before.
“I didn’t quite have the legs I wanted to so that's why I wanted to jump into this race at the end of the season just to test my speed and after the death race I thought I would have a little bit more in my legs.”
FAST TRACKS: Total finishers for the half marathon run/walk, 10K run/walk and 5K run/walk were 275, compared to 354 in 2012.
Nolan Rankin was the fastest 10k runner out of 79 finishers at 41:43 and Lorne Sundby of St. Albert was the 5K winner out of a field of 51 at 23:08.
The Fall Challenge was sponsored by the Sturgeon Valley Athletic Club.
Visit www.resultscanada.com for complete results.