By Paul Gains.
A twisted ankle meant a late start to the racing season but after claiming the 2017 Canada Running Series overall title, Leslie Sexton isn’t complaining.
The 30-year old from London, Ontario finished with 164 points, earned from her two second place finishes in the Toronto Waterfront 10k and Under Armour Eastside 10k (Vancouver) and then her command performance at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she was first Canadian and fifth place overall in this IAAF Gold Label race.
On top of the individual race prize money, she collects $3000 for the overall title and was somewhat surprised with how things turned out.
“I sometimes forget about it as you are always focused on one race or what is coming up next,” she reveals. “But it is something my coach and I try to target at the start of the season.
“We try to pick three races in the Canada Running Series and then do the (necessary) one out of province, the Vancouver Eastside 10k. So it was always something we planned to do. It’s kind of in the back of your mind when you are performing at a single event.”
Winning the Athletics Canada Marathon Championship in a time of 2:35:47 was a fine end to the season but has her thinking ahead, while paying off debts accrued while pursuing her running career.
“It’s the first year in a couple of years that I haven’t got ‘Quest for Gold’ funding, the Ontario provisional funding,” she explains. “So I had to make the dollars stretch further and watch the expenses. I tried not to travel too much for competition and really just focused on stuff where I was staying in province, for the most part.
“So hopefully that will bring up some other opportunities – having a bit more money for that. I am probably looking at the Houston Half Marathon next. I am not sure what I will get from the race because I am going in there kind of late. But if I have to put some of my own money into that, it makes it an easier decision now.”
Runner-up this year was Olympian Natasha Wodak of Vancouver, who earns $1,500 from her 149 points. Master’s competitor Lioudmila Kortchaguina of Thornhill, Ontario was an impressive third with 108 points. That rewards her with a bonus $1,000.
The men’s overall title went to Tristan Woodfine from Speed River Track Club in Guelph who won the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k in Toronto in April, then finished 4th in both the Toronto Waterfront 10k and the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on back-to-back weekends in June. That earned him 116 points, twelve more than Toronto’s Sami Jibril who actually beat him at the Waterfront 10k.
Baghdad Rachem of Montreal finished 3rd with 70 points overall, and also won the Masters’ division with 120 points by virtue of being first Canadian Master at both the Toronto Waterfront 10k and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Woodfine was complimentary when speaking of his experience at the various Canada Running Series races.
“I wasn’t really planning on winning the overall title,” Woodfine says. “All (Race Director) Alan Brookes’ races are very well organized. and they provide a lot of support to the Canadian elite road runners. So doing his races is sort of a natural thing. That is why I ended up doing so many. It’s great to win the overall Series.”
With his focus, these days, on paramedic studies at the Ontario College of Health and Technology in Hamilton, the money will come in handy for tuition. He plans to return to the Ottawa Valley once he has graduated.
The Masters’ Women’s title was a tight contest between Vancouver’s Catherine Watkins and Lioudmila Kortchaguina, with Watkins triumphing in a battle of two outstanding 46-year-olds. The member of the BC Endurance Project finished with 150 points, just eight points more than her Ontario rival. Watkins’ performance at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 22nd proved the difference. She collected a perfect 60 points by winning the Canadian Masters’ marathon title there. “I am extremely happy to have been healthy and strong this year and to have been able to compete in, and win the masters competition in the Series,” said Watkins. “The Masters running scene is extremely strong now in Canada and it is fantastic that the CRS continues to support those of us who continue to compete as we get older.”
While Canada’s Olympians and top distance runners lit up the front end of CRS 2017, the Series enjoyed a banner year throughout. Every one of the seven races sold out, with overall participation up 10% to 57,170. New sponsors like lululemon, Under Armour and New Balance brought great activation and fresh excitement to the existing blue-chip partners, and total fundraising grew by 11% to a remarkable $5,963,944 – that’s an average of over $100 raised by our charity runners for every Series participant!
Online registration at the lowest, ‘Early Bird’ pricing is already open for the 2018 Banque Scotia 21k, 10k et 5k de Montreal, plus both 2018 Vancouver events: the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon & 5k, and the Under Armour Eastside 10k. Most other events will open on Tuesday, November 21st, all at www.RunCRS.ca. You’re invited!