Chemtan and Demise Emerge Victorious in Toronto. By Paul Gains

DSC_2869TORONTO October 18th 2015. On his second visit to Canada Ishhimael Chemtan of Kenya won the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon today in a time of 2:09:00 narrowly outsprinting his countryman Gilbert Kirwa who finished a second behind.

Chemtan was 3rd in the 2014 Ottawa Marathon.

The defending Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront champion, Laban Korir, struggled with a stitch at 35 kilometres faded badly before recovering to battle his way back into 3rd place in 2:09:20.

Kirwa, who has three times dipped under 2:07 in his career was not disappointed with his narrow loss in this IAAF Gold Label race.

“I was very confident that I could win the race but maybe the other guy has prepared himself very well,” Kirwa said. “We used to train together a long time ago so he knows me very well and also I know him very well.”

The affable Kirwa agreed to act as translator for the victor who preferred to speak Swahili rather than English at the post race press conference.

Defending champion Laban Korir also of Kenya suffered a stitch at roughly 35km and after fading from the picture recovered to amount a fast finishing charge. He finished 3rd in 2:09:20.

DSC_2938The women’s race was won by Ethiopian sensation Shure Demise who ran away from the world class field to win in 2:23:37. Behind her the course record holder Kenya’s Sharon Cherop and Fatuma Sado of Ethiopia, battled elbow to elbow finishing in the same time of 2:24:16.

Officials took several hours to study the finish line video before deciding they had tied and will each receive $12,000 prize money.

Conditions were less than ideal with temperatures hovering around freezing point at the start and so it was only Canada’s Eric Gillis and Lanni Marchant among the elites who achieved what they had set out to do timewise:  finish under the Olympic qualifying standard.

Gillis ran 2:11:31 to finish 7th overall while Lanni Marchant was on pace to beat her own Canadian record (2:28:00) until 30km when her left calf cramped once again. It has been a problem throughout her marathoning career. But she was all smiles realising she  has now got Olympic qualifying standards in both the 10,000m and the marathon.

“It feels really good,” she concluded. “I came in here with DSC_2980less pressure on me. I tried to go for my record and I was good until about 30k then, like typical me, the left calf went and I was running on borrowed time at that point.

“It was the Rio standard that was the ultimate goal and if I got the record that was going to be icing on the cake. I came pretty close. I came around the bend (with 250 metres remaining) and thought ‘you gotta be kidding me but I am well under the Olympic standard and that’s a good place to be especially in 2012. I was almost there and now for certain I am going to be there and I get to my pick of events.”

Both Gillis and Marchant were well supported by their respective families as well as by the crowd to whom they have become certifiable stars since racing in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Indeed, Gillis’s five fastest times have all come on this course and Marchant’s Canadian record was set here two years ago.

DSC_2894Gillis and his training partner, Reid Coolsaet, who was busy driving to and from the airport on behalf of the event, both have the Olympic standard. Barring two other athletes achieving the time, Rio will mark Gillis’ third Olympic team. Amongst distance runners only Kevin Sullivan, Leah Pells and Paul Williams ran in three Olympic games.

A year ago Gillis ran a personal best of 2:11:21. Now at the age of 35 he is still showing good form.

“I probably got Plan ‘C’” Gillis joked afterwards. “If I was starting with plan ‘A’ would probably go to break 2:11 plan ‘B’ a personal best and then plan ‘C’ 2:11:30 something right where I have run before. Feels good. Thats more than acceptable to do that here today.”

“It feels great to have a qualifying time under my belt and I wanted to run sub 2:12 and get it by at least a minute and I did that. So what I could control I controlled and I hit the time that was in the ball park I wanted. It’s a good feeling right now to execute and get that first checkmark.”