BEDEQUE – It was a special day for a running family from Charlottetown.
Mike Peterson and his daughter, Sophie, captured the top male and female awards in the 41st annual Callbeck’s Home Hardware Dunk River Road Race on Sunday morning. Mike was the overall race winner after completing the 7.2-mile course in 44 minutes 52 seconds (44:52). Sophie, who finished fifth overall in the 38-runner field, stopped the clock in 51:44.
“This is one of my favourite races, and Sophie has wanted to do it for a long time,” said Mike, 46, in a post-race interview with the Journal Pioneer. “This is the first year that we kind of felt she was ready to do it. It was really great it finished up the way it did.”
Sophie, 14, added: “I’ve never run an 11.6K race before, but I’m pretty happy with my pace, and I didn’t die. I’m happy I didn’t go out too hard. . . I didn’t want to tank.”
The Petersons are no strangers to the P.E.I. running scene.
“Our summers are usually spent running on the road, a track or trail somewhere,” offered Mike. “It’s a lot of fun. My wife (Jocelyn) runs (and won last year’s P.E.I. Marathon), and Sophie’s older brother (Samuel) would have been here (Sunday), too, but he had to work.
“I pushed Sophie’s younger sister (Alice) in the stroller two years ago. It’s a lot of fun for the whole family.”
Sophie said the event served as a training run for next month’s national Legion track and field meet in Brandon, Man.
“I used it as a long run to get a good workout in,” said Sophie, who will enter Grade 10 at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown in September. “It was fun to do it as a race and not be out logging miles by myself.”
Sophie said she is “really excited” to be returning to the Legion meet.
“I went last year and it was such a good experience,” she said. “It was so much fun.
“It’s nice to race against the best people in the country, and it’s a really good opportunity to run PBs (personal bests) and make yourself known to other coaches.”
Mike is a coach with Team P.E.I., and likes how the squad is shaping up for the Legion competition.
“We have a pretty strong team of 12 of runners, jumpers and throwers going,” said Mike. “I’m excited about that, and the Atlantic track and field championships are here at UPEI next weekend, so we’ll be involved with that, too.”
Mike said that while he was “pretty happy” with his Dunk River run, he was “more excited” for Sophie’s accomplishment.
”I just wanted to hold a decent pace for the whole time, and see what I had left in the end,” said Mike, a guidance counsellor at Colonel Gray High School. “I have done this race a bunch of times, and I knew that hill at the end was tough, so I wanted to make sure I had enough gas to get up that and get it home.
“It’s always hot; I’ve never run this race and not have it smoking hot. It’s a good test and like Sophie said, it’s a good way to get a long run in in a race situation and see where you are at and where your fitness is at.”
How did Mike deal with the heat?
“You hydrate before (the race),” he answered. “We had water bottles in the van on the way out, and I take more water than I normally do at a race. Usually in a race I just grab a cup and dump a little on my head and drink whatever is left in the cup, but I was taking two waters at each stop – dumping one on my head and drinking the other one just to try and keep everything wet so if I got too hot I could use my shirt to cool down.”
Mike and second-place finisher Scott Clark of Linkletter ran close together at the first of the race.
“Then going down one of the hills I pushed a little bit,” said Mike. “Looking back (Clark) was pretty much in the same spot, and he may have even been gaining on me at the end.
“He’s such a strong runner and he’s so smart. He’s done this a million times, and I knew he was right there.”
Thoughts on course
When asked how she found the Dunk River course, Sophie answered: “I was warned it would be hilly, so I was prepared. The last hill was hard.”
Sophie admitted she “went out a bit easier than (she) would have liked to” at the start of the race.
“But I wasn’t conservative at all on the downhills,” she added. “I kind of let my legs go to bank some time.”
Overall, the Petersons enjoyed their experience in what is one of P.E.I.’s longest-running road races.
“It’s nice that there are markers at every mile, and also the mugs (bearing the race logo),” she said. “I’ve been waiting to get a mug.”
Mike added: “It’s a great race. . . I am upset when I don’t get to do this race. It’s a good test, it’s always hot, it’s nice and hilly and it’s a great atmosphere.”