Van Bakel paces to second-straight Labour Day Classic title

Jim van Bakel can now call himself a two-time Labour Day Classic champion.
The 41-year-old from Prince George, who won the 17-mile distance a year ago, claimed top honours again Sunday, clocking one hour, 50.17 minutes in the 42nd annual Classic.
The 17-mile (27.35 km) race featured two 8.5-mile loops that wove around South Fort George, Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park, the Uplands neighbourhood and back to the start and finish area under sunny and clear skies at the Canada Games Plaza.
"I was trying to keep a comfortable pace and see what I could run," said van Bakel afterwards, who was appreciative of the organizers and the beautiful running weather. "It was hard all the way around. The second lap was as hard as an eight-mile lap you're going to have. It was a good hard pace at the end."
John Hagen led after the first 8.5-mile lap and he crossed the line second overall in the 11-runner field, posting a time of 1:55:09.
John Currie was third overall with a time of 2:10:48.
Robin Levant was the top female, finishing fifth overall with a time of 2:26:46. Suzanne LeBlanc was the second-fastest woman and eighth overall with a time of 2:33:59.
Sunday's Classic attracted 90 athletes who competed in three different distances – 17 miles, 8.5-mile run and walk and a 5-kilometre run.
Meanwhile, the times and numbers added up for a pair of accountants – Lee Dyer of Quesnel and Cam McNamara of Prince George – to finish first and second respectively in the 8.5-mile (13.6 km race).
Dyer, 46, clocked 55 minutes flat to win the race that featured 29 male and female athletes. McNamara, 32, was 28 seconds behind, posting a time of 55:28. Cory Watts of Prince George was third-fastest, clocking 56:08.
It's was Dyer's first Labour Day Classic since the mid-80s – he grew up in Quesnel and most recently worked as an accountant for West Fraser in Sundre, Alta., until returning home to work for Cariboo Pulp.
"It was a nice temperature today and it was neat to win it," said Dyer, who's just done a bit of running, biking and kayaking this summer. "It was a good time and I hadn't done any racing this year. This was a good one to sign up for."
McNamara, an accountant with the Prince George law firm Traxler Haines, finished the race a minute faster than the 2014 Labour Day Classic.
"The first half was good, I was leading and after that the other two guys (Dyer and Watts) reeled me in," said McNamara, who competes in all the local races around Prince George. "I started feeling cramping with about four to five kilometres to go. Lee put the pedal on and he just charged at the end."
Both McNamara and Dyer competed in Sunday's race in preparation for the 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge in Wells and Barkerville on Sept. 19.
The race features hiking and biking up seven mountains in seven stages, covering 7,000 feet of vertical height and 60 kilometres all in one day.
Both Watts and Van Bakel are competing in the Golden Ultra on Sept. 18-20, a 70-km race that features three stages of trail running over the Canadian Rockies.
Jessica Seely was the top female in the 8.5-mile distance, finishing eighth overall with a time of 1:08:24.
Jude Frodyma was the second-fastest woman, finishing 10th overall with a time of 1:11:40.
Nancy Pilon placed 12th overall with the third-best time for the women, clocking 1:12:30.
Tony Prazma walked the 8.5-mile course and finished first with a time of 1:37:28. Jim Dyer was second with a time of 1:39:14.
Austin Bartell of Prince George topped the 5-km field, posting a time of 19:52, the best out of 45 runners. Colin Groeneveld was finished second, crossing the line in 20:35. Tj Winslade was third with a time of 22:15.
Kayla Korolek was the fastest female, finishing sixth overall when she clocked 23:18.
Leanne Garrison was right behind her in seventh overall with a time of 23:53. Grace Cross was eighth overall, posting a time of 24:12.
The Trail Blazers were the only team in the 3 X 3-km Relay family event and finished with a combined time of 1:21:55.

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