Olympian Natasha Wodak Leads Field for Under Armour Eastside 10k

by Paul Gains

Canadian Olympian Natasha Wodak heads a strong women’s field for the running of the Under Armour Eastside 10k, in Vancouver on Saturday September 16, though she is cautious about being considered the favourite.

The 35-year-old is coming off an excellent 10,000m performance at the 2017 IAAF World Championships – she finished 16th in a season best 31:55.47 – and then proceeded straight into a well-deserved rest period.

“I took a week off after the world track and field championships and have been doing some easy running.” she reveals. “It has been going well. I have been listening to my body and it is feeling good right now.”

Foot surgery last December left her playing catch up throughout the spring and summer leading to inconsistent performances. To add to the mix, she switched coaches and is now being guided by one of her heroes, 1984 Olympic 3,000m bronze medalist, Lynn Kanuka. In London she was inspired by the surprise appearance of Kanuka at the warmup track on the day of the 10000m final. The coach had only arrived in London hours before the race.

Two years ago, Wodak set an Eastside 10k event record of 33:04. She has a best 10k road time of 31:59 (Ottawa 2015) and also holds the Canadian 10,000m record of 31:41.59 which quali-fied her for the Rio Olympics. She was 22nd in the Rio 10,000m final. When she looks over the Eastside 10k field she points out that along with the ‘usual suspects’ there might be another sur-prise.

“Sarah Inglis is from Scotland and is training out here. She has been doing some training with me,” Wodak says of the graduate of Trinity Western University. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she runs low 33 or 33:30 so I am definitely going to not take her lightly either.”

Inglis finished just ahead of the Canadian at the Portland Tack Festival 5,000m in June so they are well aware of each other’s abilities. Rachel Cliff, who ran a personal best 10,000m (32:00.03 for 20th place) at the world championships is among the challengers along with marathoners Leslie Sexton, the defending Eastside 10k champion, and Lanni Marchant.

Marchant, the Canadian marathon record holder at 2:28:00, signed an endorsement contract with Under Armour in May but suffered kidney stones which required surgery. Since then she has kept her cards close to her chest and pulled out of the world championships where she had been entered in the 10,000m. Still, Wodak says she will underestimate no one.

“I think it’s going to be a really great competitive race,” Wodak continues. “I feel like we are all in the same boat, Rachel and I coming back from worlds and taking some time off, Lanni coming off a bit of an inconsistent spring and summer, so I don’t know where she is at. Leslie had a big injury in the winter and had a slow comeback. Obviously, I want to win in my hometown.”

The men’s race features 2015 Eastside champion Geoff Martinson of the BC Endurance Project a former Canadian 1,500m international, who has been tearing up the roads the past few years. He has a best of 29:26 (2016) on the roads but ran 28:48.33 on the track in June of this year in-dicating he has much potential at this distance.

The race which has been sold out for a couple of weeks, doubles as the BC championships hence the excellent turnout of local talent. Justin Kent (30:26 personal best) and Kevin Coffey (30:13) should also be contention for the prize money. The race winners will receive $1,000 with second and third earning $600 and $400 respectively. The top BC runners will collect a further $400, $300 and $200.

There is even more money at stake. Since the Under Armour Eastside 10k is part of the seven race Canada Running Series there are points to be had. The winner here will earn 60 points, and, with Wodak currently in the lead thanks to dominant victories at the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k and Toronto Waterfront 10k earlier this year, she can solidify her grasp on the over-all title – and $5000 prize money.

For a complete start list see: http://canadarunningseries.com/2017/08/ua-eastside-10k-2017-elite-starting-list/

For more information on the run see: www.eastside10k.com