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Local runner a surprise finish in first 10 km race

Luke Smith is officially a Special Olympic runner but that does not hold him back in any way.
Luke Smith finished second in the Totem to Totem 10K on Haida Gwaii.

It doesn’t take much to figure out that Luke Smith is more than just a casual runner. He is always amongst the top finishers in his regular category in quite a few different races. Locally, he has had a difficult time in finding enough challenging competition in that category but he still goes out and is usually the top competitor.

Smith is officially a Special Olympic runner but that does not hold him back in any way. This summer he started looking for something a little more demanding to get some head to head racing.

He did more than just OK as he finished second in the Haida Gwaii Totem to Totem 10 km race out of the 42 entrants on July 20. At 41:44, he was not far behind the race winner, Brionne Lavoie of Tlell, who stopped the clock at 40:39.

As this was Smith’s first attempt at the 10 km distance, the result must be considered outstanding. There was a bit of confusion with the race start and perhaps the pacing within the event was an element with which he has had little experience, so keeping close to the top group without using too much energy too early in the race was a new test for him.

In most of his Special Olympic races, he has had little competition, so running with the pack was a novel aspect of the race. The 10 Km distance was one of a variety of races run during the event which also had the half marathon and marathon.

The race featured some very competitive athletes and while the winning time for the men was not a course record, both the winner and both were ahead of last years winning time.

Other notable finishes from the local area included Jane Vetch of Telkwa who was sixth in the marathon and Joni Jones, also of Telkwa, who was fifth in the half marathon.

In total, there were close to 200 runners who headed to the races which were held in Skidegate on Haida Gwaii. The competitors came from all parts of Canada as well as Australia, Thailand the United Kingdom, Cuba, France and the United States.

As Smith gains experience in training and racing for longer distances we can only expect that he will become even more competitive.