Four Canadian runners set personal-best times in an official 10,000-metre race on a cool Saturday night in Burnaby, B.C., led by Luc Bruchet, who was 49 ½ seconds shy of the Tokyo Olympic qualifying standard.
The Vancouver resident's time of 28 minutes 17.33 seconds at Swangard Stadium is the fastest 10,000 on Canadian soil since Jeff Schiebler ran 28:07.06 at the 2001 world championships at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
"It's still a long way to the standard but I know I can give the 28-minute barrier a good crack in a bigger race," said Bruchet, who was 37th in the 5,000 in his 2016 Olympic debut at Rio. "It's still possible to get [on the Canadian team] on the ranking system. I'll be trying to run as fast as I can over the 5,000 and 10,000."
Bruchet, 29, ranked 62nd and 123rd in the world across those distances before Saturday's event, the second in the Saturday Night Lights Endurance Series organized by B.C. Athletics.
His 2019 season best of 13:30.36 in the 5,000 is a little more than 16 seconds above the 13:13.50 Olympic standard.
While reaching the 27:28.00 standard wouldn't have counted on Saturday — World Athletics suspended qualifying until Dec. 1 to give athletes equal chance to meet standards during the coronavirus pandemic across most events — it was a sign of progress for Bruchet, whose previous best was 28:36.74, set in April 2015.
He only ran the 10,000 once last year, clocking 28:42.29 at the Pacific Distance Carnival in Burnaby.
'Nostalgic place to race'
Finishing behind Bruchet on Saturday was Vancouver's Kieran Lumb (28:17.55), John Gay of Kelowna, B.C. (28:18.10) and 2016 Olympian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, who led early on and clocked 28:45.42, three seconds off Alain Bordeleau's Quebec record.
"There were a couple of coaches but not another soul in the stands," said Bruchet, a three-time Canadian cross-country champion. "It felt pretty weird being in a large venue like Swangard [with a capacity of 5,000 to 7,500]. It was cool we had 20 to 25 fans along the back straight.
"For me it's a nostalgic place to race as the B.C. high school championships used to always occur there. With all the craziness in the world lately it felt awesome to run a real race."
Lumb, Gay and Bruchet are confirmed for a third SNL race on Dec. 5 at Swangard, complete with a timing crew and officials.
Justin Kent, who qualified to represent Canada at the half marathon world championship in Poland before Athletics Canada withdrew its team days before the October race, did not compete Saturday. He is focused on preparing for his marathon debut in Arizona next month.
Former University of British Columbia runner Theo Hunt ran 3 km as a time trial while Burnaby's Cam Proceviat paced the foursome through 3,000 metres.