Fruitvale runner shocks field

A Fruitvale woman finished first in the 17th annual running of the BMO Okanagan Marathon run in Kelowna last week.

A Fruitvale woman finished first in the 17th annual running of the BMO Okanagan Marathon run in Kelowna last week.

Heather Johnson won the women’s marathon in a time of three hours, 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

But what’s even more incredible is that it was only her second marathon.

“There are some fast girls in the area so I’m a little shocked I took the win,” said Johnson.  “I came in feeling confident thinking I had a chance for a podium finish but I was not expecting to win.”

Johnson ran her first marathon in 2005 and is more comfortable running in the half-marathon or  triathlons.

The 33-year-old athlete had trained  hard over the summer to prepare for the Trans-Rockies ultra-marathon race in Colorado in August; a team event she entered with husband Chris Kent.

The race covered 120 miles of off-road mountainous terrain, over six days. The duo finished an impressive fifth.

After the event she decided to run the full marathon in Kelowna rather than the half-marathon she is accustomed to running with her sisters.

“I had all this fitness built up and I thought, ‘Well I don’t want to waste all this fitness on just one race,’ so I carried it through to the marathon in October.”

Johnson also won a triathlon in Vernon in June, the Christina Lake Triathlon two years ago and was a third-place finisher in the Colville Triathlon last year.

The event also qualified Johnson for the Boston Marathon but she says she won’t consider it for a couple years.

She plans on entering the Kaslo Sufferfest, a 50 kilometre race in Kaslo next year and is off to Hawaii for her honeymoon and to watch husband Kent compete in the Xterra World Championships next week.

Paige Howat of Prince George came in second in a time of 3:20:39 and Stacie Carrigan of West Kelowna was third at 3:20:53.

Calgary-based runner James Curran, who hails from Cork, Ireland, finished first overall in the men’s marathon.

Curran finished with a time of 2:44:54, followed by Thomas Evans of Penticton at 2:47:44 and Jamie Baxter of Canmore at 2:48:25.