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Woodfine et Gollish, Les Grands Gagnants À Montréal

By | Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal | No Comments

Par Laurent Godbout

Montréal (22 avril) – Profitant de conditions atmosphériques idéales au départ, les coureurs ontariens Tristan Woodfine, chez les hommes, et Sasha Gollish, chez les dames, ont remporté des victoires sans équivoque dimanche au Parc Jean-Drapeau de Montréal, pour la 16ème édition de la Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal.

Woodfine, 24 ans, de Cobden, Ontario, franchissait la ligne d’arrivée située aux abords du bassin d’aviron olympique en 1h05min43s. Gollish, 36 ans, de Toronto, remportait l’épreuve féminine en 1h16min14s.

Woodfine en contrôle

Dès le départ, Woodfine partait doucement avec le groupe de favoris parmi lesquels on retrouvait le champion en titre de 2017 François Jarry, l’Albertain Kip Kangogo, Baghdad Rachem, Jacques-Sylvain Lecointre et Adam Hortian, de Kitchener.

Le petit peloton de six coureurs s’est rapidement étiré et dès le 5ème kilomètre passé en 15:53, Woodfine menait, accompagné de Jarry et Kangogo. Accumulant des kilomètres à une moyenne de 3:06-3:07, les trois meneurs passaient les 10km en 31:30. Woodfine était visiblement le plus à l’aise, tandis que Jarry, à 30 secondes de son meilleur chrono sur route, grimaçait déjà.

Pendant ce temps, le peloton féminin, entouré de quelques coureurs masculins, était déjà réduit à trois athlètes, soit Anne-Marie Comeau, de St-Férréol-les-Neiges, et les Torontoises Sasha Gollish et Laura Desjardins. On avait vu au départ Leslie Sexton, une des favorites, mais la coureuse de London abandonnait dès le 2ème kilomètre.

Pendant que Gollish pratiquait quelque peu son français avec les «boys» qui l’entourait, Comeau, à sa première tentative sur la distance de 21,1 km, était à la tête du groupe qui franchissait les 10 kilomètres en 36 :38. À quelques mètres derrière, Desjardins ne semblait plus capable de tenir la cadence imposée par les meneuses. Très à l’aise, Gollish nous a semblé au beau milieu d’une longue séance d’entraînement!

Les choses se sont rapidement précipitées pour tout le monde entre le 10ème et le 14ème kilomètre. Pendant que Woodfine maintenait le rythme en enfilant des kilomètres en 3 :07, Jarry était décroché et accusait un retard de 28 secondes au 15ème tandis que Kip Kangogo suivait à 75 secondes du meneur. Au 4ème rang, Adam Hortiam pouvait bien voir Kip devant lui mais n’a jamais pu le rattraper.

On peut affirmer sans l’ombre d’un doute, avec ce chrono de 1h05m43s, que Woodfine en avait encore pas mal sous le pied et qu’il aurait certainement pu améliorer son record personnel (1h05m28s) s’il avait été poussé. Jarry, deuxième en 1h07m28s, conserva une avance importante sur Kangogo, 3ème en 1h08m15s.

«J’ai pris un bon départ, expliqua Woodfine à l’arrivée. Je me suis placé 3ème au début mais dès le 4ème kilomètre, je voulais voir qui pourrait me suivre. À partir de là, on avait déjà creusé un petit écart. Au 10km, je me sentais bien et j’ai poursuivi mon effort. J’étais un peu surpris de voir que Kip (Kangogo) n’était plus là. C’est un bon coureur et il a eu un hiver très difficile en Alberta. Je suis certain qu’il reviendra plus fort bientôt.»

Jarry était relativement satisfait de sa course. «Woodfine a fait une bonne course et il était plus fort aujourd’hui. Comme j’ai été malade autour de Pâques, je ne savais pas trop comment ça allait se passer. Considérant tout ce qui n’allait pas bien, c’est quand même un PB et je n’aurais pas pu demander plus.»

Jarry a bien tenté de demeurer près de Woodfine, mais ce dernier a lancé une attaque qui a fait mal à partir du 12ème kilomètre. «Autour de 12-13km, on s’en allait dans un vent de face et c’est là que ça faisait le plus mal, dit encore Jarry. À ce moment-là, je ne pouvais pas répondre et j’ai commencé à cramper. J’ai essayé de revenir sur lui vers le 15ème mais il était trop tard.»

Un résultat de bon augure pour Jarry, qui prévoit courir son premier marathon à Toronto l’automne prochain. Pour Woodfine, il s’agissait d’une dernière course avant le marathon d’Ottawa. «Ce résultat est une bonne indication qu’on est sur la bonne voie. J’ai bien aimé le parcours. Il y avait quelques virages où je me suis efforcé d’accélérer pour prendre un avantage. Je veux juste poursuivre mon entraînement pour Ottawa avec encore quelques semaines solides et ensuite diminuer à l’approche de la course.»

Gollish s’amuse

Gollish s’est montrée plus patiente et donna le coup de grâce en fin de course, terminant sous les applaudissements nourris en 1h16m14s, devançant Comeau par 11 secondes. Desjardins réussit à conserver la 3ème place pour terminer en 1h17m59s.

Coureuse parmi les plus polyvalentes au Canada, elle était de très bonne humeur à l’arrivée. «Je me sentais fatiguée en arrivant ici après un gros entraînement avant-hier. Je ne me suis pas entraîné hier et je voulais juste avoir du plaisir. Je suis demeuré dans le sillon du groupe et j’ai essayé de m’amuser tout au long de la course.»

Ce besoin de détente était bien évident avant le départ puisque Gollish parlait avec tous les coureurs à la ligne de départ. «Il ne faut pas sous-estimer l’importance du relâchement dans une course. Si on peut rendre l’effort moins pénible en relaxant, je crois que ça peut conduire à un meilleur résultat. J’aime bien avoir du plaisir en course.»

Loin d’être à la recherche d’un gros chrono, Gollish a abordé l’épreuve comme un long tempo. «Mon français est terrible, je comprends un peu mais je me suis pratiqué un peu. J’ai essayé de faire ma petite affaire.»

Gollish a maintenant des ambitions sur la distance du marathon. «Je vais quand même tenter de courir un 5000 mètres sur piste en mai. Le plan sera ensuite vers un marathon à l’automne, probablement à Berlin.»

Sans exception, tous les coureurs ont apprécié le parcours. Gollish a bien résumé le sentiment des athlètes. «Loin des voitures, dans ce grand parc, on était vraiment bien.»

 


 

Woodfine and Gollish Big Winners in Montreal

By Laurent Godbout

Montreal (April 22) – Taking advantage of ideal weather conditions at the start, Ontario runners Tristan Woodfine and Sasha Gollish won unequivocal victories on Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montréal for the 16th edition of the Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal.

Woodfine, 24, of Cobden, Ont., crossed the finish line at the edge of the Olympic rowing basin in 1h05m43s. Gollish, 36, of Toronto, won the women’s event in 1h16min14s.

Woodfine in control

From the start, Woodfine was with a small group of favorites, including defending champion François Jarry from Montréal, Alberta’s Kip Kangogo, Baghdad Rachem, Jacques-Sylvain Lecointre and Adam Hortian of Kitchener. The small pack of six runners quickly spread out and passed 5 kilometres in 15:53, where Woodfine took the lead, followed by Jarry and Kangogo. Maintaining an average pace of  3:06-3:07/km, the three leaders passed 10km in 31:30. Woodfine was obviously the most comfortable, while Jarry, 30 seconds off his best time on the road, was already wincing.

Meanwhile, the women’s lead group, surrounded by a few male runners, was already reduced to three athletes, namely Anne-Marie Comeau, of St-Férréol-les-Neiges, and Toronto’s Sasha Gollish and Laura Desjardins. Leslie Sexton, one of the favorites, was seen at the start, but the London runner gave up near the second kilometer.

While Gollish was practicing her French conversation with the “boys” around her, Comeau, at her first attempt at the 21.1 km distance, was leading the group, passing 10 kilometers in 36:38. A few meters behind, Desjardins no longer seemed able to maintain pace with the leaders. Looking very comfortable, Gollish seemed to be in the middle of a long workout!

Things changed quickly for everyone between kilometers 10 and 14. While Woodfine kept a 3:07/km pace, Jarry was slowly letting go and was 28 seconds behind at 15km, while Kip Kangogo fell to 75 seconds behind the leader. In 4th place, Adam Hortian could see Kip in front of him but was unable to catch him.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, with his winning time of 1:05:43, Woodfine still had a lot left in his legs and could certainly have improved his personal best (1:05:28s) if he had been pushed. Jarry, second in 1:07:28, kept a significant lead over Kangogo, 3rd in 1:08:15.

“I had a good start,” Woodfine said less than a minute after he finished. I positioned myself in 3rd place at the beginning but from the 4th kilometre on I wanted to see who could follow me. From there, we had already dug a small gap. At 10km, I felt good and I continued my effort. I was a little surprised to see that Kip was no longer there. He is a good runner and has had a very tough winter in Alberta. I’m sure he’ll come back to his best soon. ”

Jarry was relatively happy with his race. “Woodfine had a good race and he was stronger today. As I was sick around Easter, I did not really know how it was going to be. Considering all that went wrong, this is still a PB for me and I could not have asked for more.”

Jarry tried to stay in close range of the leader, but Woodfine launched an attack that hurt from the 12th kilometer. “Around 12-13km, we went in a headwind and that’s where it hurt,” said Jarry again. At that moment, I could not respond and started to cramp. I tried to get back to him around 15km but it was too late.” Overall, it was a  positive result for Jarry who plans to run his first marathon in Toronto next fall.

For Woodfine, this was his last race before the Ottawa Marathon. “This result is a good indication that we are on the right track. I enjoyed the course. There were a few bends where I went hard to accelerate and take advantage. I just want to continue my training for Ottawa with a few solid weeks and then decrease as the race approaches.”

Gollish relaxed and having fun

Sasha Gollish crossed the finish line looking relaxed and patient, throwing a final knockout punch near the end of the race. Finishing to loud cheers from the crowd in 1:16:14, she edged Anne-Marie Comeau by 11 seconds. Laura Desjardins managed to stay in 3rd place to finish in 1:17:59.

This was an impressive result from Comeau on her first attempt at the distance. The 21 year old Olympic cross-country skier ran without much knowledge of her abilities for the half marathon and was quite satisfied with the result.

One of the most versatile runners in Canada, Sasha Gollish was in a very good mood upon arrival. “I felt tired coming here after a massive training the day before yesterday. I did not train yesterday and I just wanted to have fun. I stayed in the groove of the group and tried to have fun all along the race. ”

This sense of calm was obvious before the start as Gollish spoke with all the runners at the starting line. “We must not underestimate the importance of relaxation in a race. If we can make the effort less painful by relaxing, I think it can lead to a better result. I like having fun in the race. ”

Far from looking for a fast time, Gollish approached the race like a long tempo run. “My French is terrible, I understand a bit, but I practiced a little. I tried to stay focused on my business. ”

Gollish now has ambitions for the marathon. “I will still try to run a 5000 meter track in May. The plan will then be geared towards a marathon in the fall, probably in Berlin. ”

Without exception, all the elite runners appreciated the course. Gollish pretty much summed up the feelings of the group. “Far from cars, in this big park, it felt really good.”

For full race results, visit: https://bit.ly/2pPsK0n

Un aperçu des épreuves élites au Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal

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Présenté par:

Par Paul Gains

Malgré un grand nombre de modifications au parcours par la construction au Parc Jean-Drapeau, le Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal attire encore cette année un peloton de bons coureurs ayant des visées sur les nombreuses bourses, des points importants pour le Circuit de course du Canada et un bon défi de début de saison.

L’épreuve montréalaise est la deuxième de huit courses du Circuit de course du Canada en 2018.

Les deux champions en titre du Circuit, Tristan Woodfine et Leslie Sexton, seront parmi les favoris, les deux athlètes ayant bien amorcé la saison 2018 avec des victoires au 8km Race Roster Spring Run-Off le 7 avril dernier.

Du côté masculin, l’international canadien Kip Kangogo traversera le pays pour livrer la lutte à Woodfine ainsi qu’au champion de l’édition 2017 de Montréal, François Jarry.

Le sympathique Jarry, étudiant à l’université McGill, n’aura qu’à prendre le métro pour se rendre à la ligne de départ. En dépit de l’admiration et du respect qu’il porte à ses rivaux, François n’a pas l’intention d’être trop généreux envers les visiteurs. N’ayant rien à perdre, il se trouve dans une position de négligé face aux favoris Woodfine et Kangogo. Et c’est ce qui peut parfois faire ressortir le meilleur d’un athlète.

Dans l’épreuve féminine, Sexton sera talonnée par celle qui l’a suivie au deuxième rang à Toronto. Laura Desjardins, une chiropodiâtre, prend son pied, c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire, dans les épreuves de longue distance. Une autre concurrente à surveiller, inscrite au dernier moment, sera Sasha Gollish. Contrainte à l’abandon lors du 8km de Toronto, la médaillée du 1500 mètres des Jeux panaméricains a déjà fait ses preuves sur les distances plus longues et sera dure à battre si elle est en possession de tous ses moyens.

Les Élites à surveiller:

Tristan Woodfine, 24 ans, indépendant, Cobden, Ontario

Le champion en titre du Circuit de course du Canada, Woodfine préconise présentement un volume plus élevé d’entraînement dans sa préparation pour le Marathon Scotiabank d’Ottawa le 27 mai prochain. Dans une semaine d’entraînement plus légère, ce fut une belle surprise pour lui de remporter le 8km Race Roster Spring Run Off à Toronto. Woodfine détient un record personnel de 1h05.28 au demi-marathon.

Woodfine n’aspire pas à un chrono rapide sur le parcours montréalais, surtout depuis l’ajout de plusieurs virages. Étudiant au Collège de Santé et Technologie de l’Ontario, il souhaite devenir ambulancier paramédical.

“Ce sera beaucoup plus pour déployer un gros effort à cinq semaines du marathon d’Ottawa”, explique-t-il. “Je ne suis pas certain qui sera de la course mais s’il y a une bonne compétition cela ajoute au plaisir de courir. L’objectif numéro un est de donner un gros effort en préparation pour Ottawa et s’il y a des coureurs rapides c’est un boni. ”

“J’ai affronté Kip (Kangogo) quelques fois. Il est présent sur la scène canadienne depuis plusieurs années et il est toujours un athlète compétitif. Je ne sais pas si j’ai déjà couru contre François (Jarry), mais n’importe qui peut connaître une bonne course un jour donné et il faut sortir avec l’idée de faire de son mieux et voir où cela va vous mener.”

Leslie Sexton, 30 ans, London Runner, London, Ontario

En octobre 2017, Sexton était couronnée Championne canadienne du marathon malgré une blessure qui avait retardé son début de saison. Présentement en pleine forme, comme elle l’a démontré lors de sa première victoire de l’année à Toronto, elle est maintenant prête au test du demi-marathon. Améliorer son record personnel de 1h13.13 n’est peut-être pas dans les cartes, en raison des nombreux changements sur le parcours du Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Sexton est plutôt motivée par la possibilité d’ajouter des points au classement du Circuit de courses du Canada à Montréal. Encore plus, elle insiste sur l’importance de voir si son volume d’entraînement élevé sera bénéfique. Cette course fait donc partie d’un plan plus général.

“Je dirais que même sans les points du circuit, je participerais à plusieurs courses du circuit de toute façon,” avoue Sexton. “Il s’agit d’une belle occasion de remporter une bourse en argent et me faire connaître un peu plus. Cette année, j’ai l’intention de participer à cinq ou six courses et peut-être demeurer dans la lutte pour le classement général du circuit encore cette année.

“Le plan pour ce printemps n’est pas de courir un marathon mais de travailler à mon demi-marathon et mon 10 km. La date de Montréal au calendrier était bonne pour un objectif au demi-marathon me donnera trois semaines avant les championnats de 10 000 mètres sur piste de l’Ontario. Je n’ai pas couru sur le parcours de Montréal depuis 2012 (elle était 2ème) et c’était alors un Championnat canadien. Même avec la construction autour, je pense pouvoir obtenir un temps rapide.”

Kip Kangogo, 38 ans, Lethbridge, Alberta

Toujours un fort compétiteur sur les routes, le Canadien d’origine kényane est le plus rapide sur papier avec un record personnel de 1h03.22, réalisé au Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon de 2011. Le printemps dernier, Kip avait aussi remporté le titre de champion canadien au Demi-marathon de Calgary. En 2016, il avait remporté la victoire au 21k Scotia de Montréal.

Ces jours-ci, il travaille six heures par jour pour la commission des écoles du District de Lethbridge, ce qui lui permet du temps avec son épouse et ses deux jeunes enfants en plus de pouvoir s’entraîner. Ayant changé d’entraîneur, il exécute les entraînements preparés par le coach kényan Matthew Cheriuyot. Il est aussi un athlète de l’équipe Skechers Performance du Canada.

“Je veux un bon test pour débuter ma saison et Montréal est un bon endroit pour le faire,” dit-il. “J’y suis déjà allé en 2016 et c’est un bon endroit. Ç’a été un hiver difficile mais j’ai bien hâte de voir où en est ma forme en ce début de saison. ”

Sasha Gollish, 36 ans, University of Toronto TC, Toronto, Ontario

Arrivée tardivement à la course de fond, la candidate au doctorat en Génie excelle des épreuves du 1500 mètres au demi-marathon.

En 2015, elle remportait la médaille de bronze du 1500 mètres des Jeux panaméricains. Elle a aussi à sa fiche un record personnel de 1h11.05 au demi-marathon, ce qui la situe au 3ème rang de tous les temps au Canada. Plus récemment, elle a été la meilleure Canadienne des championnats du monde IAAF de demi-marathon à Valence, terminant 30ème en 1h11.52. Malade, elle devait abandonner lors du 8km Race Roster Spring Run Off mais elle est maintenant prête à rejoindre l’élite du peloton de Montréal.

Francois Jarry, 24 ans, Athlétisme Ville-Marie, Montréal, Quebec

Il y a un an, cet étudiant de l’université McGill émergeait comme l’un des bons jeunes coureurs du Québec en remportant 21k Banque Scotia de Montréal en 1h07.23 en terminant par la suite au 4ème rang des championnats canadiens de Demi-marathon à Calgary. Remporter la course de Montréal devant ses amis et supporteurs fut, dit-il, ‘’une de mes plus belles réalisations.’’

Suite à cette victoire, François a été récompensé en étant nommé parmi les athlètes Skechers Performance du Canada comme son rival Kip Kangogo. À l’évidence, il voue un énorme respect au champion canadien.

“Oh, est-ce qu’il sera là ? Je le connais. Je n’avais pas encore vu la liste de départ. Et bien s’il est là, ce ne sera pas facile,” dit Jarry en riant. “Je l’ai vu à Calgary l’année dernière et je sais qu’il est pas mal rapide. S’il est dans la forme habituelle, j’aurai besoin d’un gros ‘pb’ pour avoir une chance contre lui.

“J’avais un bon volume d’entraînement récemment mais cela vous rend plus vulnérable à la maladie. J’ai été malade durant la période de Pâques j’ai dû prendre une pause de près d’une semaine. J’espère que je pourrai garder la forme, ça pourrait être un grande course.”

Anne-Marie Comeau, 21 ans, Université Laval, Québec

En grandissant à Mont Ste-Anne, Comeau a été amenée au ski de fond en bas âge et a participé à de nombreuses compétitions internationales au cours de son adolescence. Mais lorsqu’elle est entrée à l’université Laval en sciences comptables en 2015, elle passa beaucoup plus de temps à la course en cross-country et représentait l’équipe universitaire du Rouge & Or.

Malgré cette absence fréquente des activités de son premier sport au cours des deux dernières années, Anne-Marie a tenté ultimement et avec succès un dernier coup pour se qualifier pour les Jeux olympiques d’hiver de 2018.

“J’ai couru en cross-country durant tout l’automne,” dit-elle. “Je courais beaucoup mais je ne m’entraînais pas tant que ça pour le ski et je me suis étonnée. J’étais en bonne forme et prête pour les Jeux olympiques.

“Le ski de fond est très bon pour la course mais la course est aussi bonne pour le ski. Quand je fais les deux, je me sens bien pour les deux. En ski, j’ai moins de blessures qu’à la course. Les blessures les plus sérieuses en ski sont les tendinites aux épaules. J’en ai eu une il y a deux ans, parce que la double poussée est très dure pour les épaules. Par contre, on n’a pas de blessures aux pieds ou aux genoux.

“Ce sera ma première expérience au demi-marathon. Comme c’est ma première, je ne sais pas trop comment voir cette course, à quelle vitesse je démarrerai. Je ne veux pas partir trop vite parce que je ne sais pas ce que je peux maintenir sur 21 km. J’aimerais bien courir sous 1h20 ou 1h19 mais je ne sais honnêtement pas ce que je peux faire. ”

Laura Desjardins, 29 ans, Newmarket Huskies, Toronto, Ontario

Desjardins en a étonné plusieurs en terminant au 2ème rang lors du 8 km Race Roster Spring Run Off, un résultat qui l’a mis en confiance avant le 21k Banque Scotia de Montréal. En octobre dernier, elle a fait ses débuts au demi-marathon à Toronto en 1h17.24.

“Je sens que j’ai appris quelque chose lors du 8km de Toronto. Préparation, affûtage, nutrition, repos, éléments de récupération,” dit-elle. “J’ai appris de ça et je pense que ça va m’aider pour le demi de Montréal.

Sous la direction du réputé entraîneur de fond Hugh Cameron, elle a augmenté son entraînement de manière significative cet hiver en vue de la saison de compétitions. Programme d’entraînement réalisé tout en poursuivant son travail chez Premier Footworks à Mississauga.

“Je suis relativement nouvelle sur l’entraînement de fond et c’est ma première année avec un plus gros volume et plus de kilométrage, en plus de mes heures de travail par semaine,” explique-t-elle. “Ça m’a demandé une adaptation.”

“Je m’habitue à ce volume et cette intensité à l’entraînement et je veux voir où j’en suis. C’est une sorte d’année d’expérimentation avec différentes distances et voir comment mon corps s’adapte à ces courses. Il n’y a pas de courses de qualification pour des épreuves mondiales. Le demi-marathon Scotiabank de Toronto et le championnat canadien de 10 km à Ottawa seront les plus importantes.”

Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal Elite Preview

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Presented by Koena  

By Paul Gains 

Despite several course changes due to ongoing construction inside Parc Jean Drapeau the Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal has attracted a strong field intent on chasing prize money, Canada Running Series points and an early season challenge.

The event is the second stop on the eight race 2018 CRS circuit.

Leading the elite field are the two defending CRS champions, Tristan Woodfine and Leslie Sexton, who launched their 2018 CRS campaigns in victorious fashion at Toronto’s Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k, April 7th.

Canadian international Kip Kangogo, flies across the country to do battle with Woodfine and defending Montréal champion, Francois Jarry.

The personable Jarry, a McGill University student, will hop the Metro to get to the race but although he admires and respects his rivals he doesn’t intend to be the perfect host. With nothing to lose he is in a comfortable position compared to the favoured Woodfine and Kangogo. And that can often bring out the best in a competitor.

Meanwhile, Sexton will be shadowed by the woman who finished second to her in Toronto, Laura Desjardins, a practicing chiropodist,  who is finding her feet in the longer distances. A late addition to the field is Sasha Gollish who, under duress, dropped out of the RRSRO 8k. The Pan Am Games 1,500m gold medalist is an accomplished distance runner and if fully fit will prove difficult to beat.

Elites to Watch:

Tristan Woodfine 24, Unattached, Cobden, Ontario

The defending CRS overall champion Woodfine is embracing a higher training volume as he prepares for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon May 27. Dropping down and winning the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8km in Toronto was a pleasant surprise in light of the training. Even so he has a best half marathon time of 1:05:28.

Running fast over the Montréal course particularly with the addition of a few more turns is no longer the target for Woodfine who is now studying at the Ontario Health and Technology College. He intends to become a paramedic.

“It’s more about getting a good hard effort in five weeks before Ottawa,” he explains. “I am not sure who is going to be racing but if there is good competition there then that adds to the fun. Goal number one is get a good hard effort in preparation for Ottawa and if there are some fast guys to race that’s an added bonus.

“I have raced Kip a couple of times. He’s been on the Canadian running scene for many years and he is always a good competitor. I don’t know if I have ever raced Francois but anyone can have a good race on any given day so you just go out there and give it your best and see where you stack up.”

Leslie Sexton 30, London Runner, London, Ontario

Last October Sexton was crowned Canadian Marathon Champion despite an injury induced delay to the start of her 2017 season. Now, fully healthy and fit, as her recent victory in Toronto proved, she is ready to test herself over the 21k distance. Beating her personal best (1:13:13) is likely not in the cards this weekend due to the course changes.

The attraction of adding CRS points is one reason she is racing Montréal. More importantly she says is the importance of seeing how her high volume training has paid off. The race is part of a bigger picture.

“I would say even without the CRS points I would be doing a lot of CRS races anyway,” Sexton admits. “It’s just a great competitive opportunity to win prize money and get my name out there a bit more. This year I intend to do five or six races in the Series and hopefully contend for the Series win again.

“The plan for this spring was not to do a marathon but to work on my half marathon and my 10k. So the date of Montréal worked well to be a ‘goal’ half marathon and will give me about three weeks before I do the Ontario 10,000m championships. I haven’t run the Montréal course since 2012 (she was 2nd) when it was the Canadian Championships. Even with the construction, hopefully, I can still run a pretty fast time.”

Kip Kangogo 38, Lethbridge, Alberta

Always a strong competitor on the roads this Kenyan born Canadian citizen is the fastest on paper with a personal best of 1:03:22 from the 2011 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. Last spring he also won the Canadian Half Marathon championship in Calgary. More significantly he raced in Montreal in 2016 and won.

These days he is working six hours a day for the Lethbridge School District which he says allow him time with his wife and two young children as well as the opportunity to complete his training program. Having switched coaches he follows workouts prescribed by Kenyan Matthew Cheriuyot.  He is also a Skechers Performance Canada Athlete.

“I am looking for a test to open my season and Montréal is a good place to do it,” he declares. “I have been there before (in 2016) and it’s a good environment. It has been a tough winter but I look forward to seeing where my fitness is as I start the season.”

Sasha Gollish 36, University of Toronto TC, Toronto, Ontario

A relative late comer to distance running this PhD Engineering candidate has excelled at distances from 1,500m up to the half marathon.

In 2015 she claimed the Pan Am Games 1,500m bronze. She also has a best half marathon time of 1:11:05 making her the third fastest Canadian of all time. Most recently she was Canada’s top finisher at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships finishing 30th in 1:11:52. Illness forced her to drop out of the recent Race Roster Spring Run Off but she has rebounded to join the elite field for Montréal.

Francois Jarry 24, Athlétisme Ville-Marie, Montréal, Quebec

A year ago this McGill University student emerged as one of Quebec’s finest young runners winning the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal in 1:07:23 and then finishing 4th at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary. Winning this race in front of his hometown supporters was, he says, one of his greatest achievements.

Now he has been rewarded by being named a Skechers Performance Canada Athlete like his rival Kip Kangogo. Clearly he respects the Canadian champion immensely.

“Oh he is going to be there? I know him. I hadn’t seen the start list yet. If he is going to be there it is not going to be easy,” he says laughing. “I saw  him in Calgary last year and I know he is pretty fast. If he is in the shape he usually is then I am going to need a very big ‘pb’ to have a chance against him.

“I was doing great training big volume but that makes you more susceptible to illness. I had some sickness over Easter and took me out for about a week. Hopefully most of my fitness will stay with me. It could be a great race.”

Anne-Marie Comeau 21, Laval University, Montréal, Quebec

Growing up in Mont Ste Anne, Quebec Comeau was introduced to cross country skiing at an early age and competed internationally as a youth. But when she enrolled in accounting at Laval University in 2015 she switched to cross country running and competed for the varsity team.

Despite this absence from her chosen sport she made a last ditch effort to qualify for Canada’s team to the 2018 Winter Olympics and was successful.

“I was doing cross country running all during the fall,” she says. “I was running a lot but wasn’t training so much for skiing so I surprised myself. I was in good shape and I was fine for the Olympics.

“Skiing is very good for running but also running is very good for skiing. When I do both I feel better for both. We get way less injuries than in running; the biggest injuries we have in skiing is tendonitis in the shoulders. I had one two years ago because the double pulling is really hard on the shoulders. But we don’t have injuries on our feet and knees.

“This is my first experience in the half marathon. Because it is my first one I don’t know how to see the race, which pace to start. I think I don’t want to start too fast because I don’t know the speed I can go for 21k. I would like to do under 1:20 or 1:19 but I don’t honestly know what I can do.”

Laura Desjardins 29, Newmarket Huskies, Toronto, Ontario

Desjardins surprised many with her second place finish at the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8km a race that has given her much more confidence going into the Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal.  Last October she made her debut at the half marathon distance in Toronto finishing in 1:17:24.

“I feel like I have learned something from that (RRSRO 8k) race, preparing, tapering, nutrition, rest, recovery items,” she says. “I have learned from that and I think it will help me going into the ‘Montreal Half.’

Under the direction of noted distance coach, Hugh Cameron, she has increased her training significantly this winter in preparation for the racing season. This she has done around her employment as a Chiropodist at Premier Footworks in Mississauga.

“I am relatively new to the distance training this is my first year doing higher mileage higher volume on top of doing 40 hours of work and commuting,” she explains. “It was kind of an adjustment.”

“I am getting used to this volume and intensity in training and trying to see where I stand. It’s kind of a year of experimenting with different distances and seeing how the body adapts to those races. I know there is no major world qualifier. The Scotiabank Toronto Half Marathon is a big one, the 10k championships in Ottawa.”

 

Running, Volunteering and Fundraising

By | Digital Champions, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

Digital Champion Margaret Buttner has been involved in the sport of running for close to 20 years, but it wasn’t until 2011 when she met the iconic Katherine Switzer that she made a commitment to begin running herself! Margaret has since run distances from the 5k to half-marathon and feels very privileged to have made so many great friendships through Vancouver’s running community. She can’t imagine a better sport or better friends to be associate with. Connect with Margaret on Twitter. 

Running, Volunteering and Fundraising. By Margaret Buttner. 

It’s funny how life turns out. If you had told me 30 years ago that this is what my life would look like, and how enjoyable it is, I would have said you were crazy. It’s definitely one of those “one thing led to another” scenarios.

First – the volunteering: My husband Geoffrey joined Lions Gate Road Runners, a local running club, in 1995. It wasn’t long before I became involved as a volunteer, starting with course marshaling, graduating to “food goddess” and ultimately to vice president. Being a volunteer in the Vancouver running community really means being part of a family. We help at each other’s events, we socialize together and sometimes we even travel together (for example, South Africa in 2014). Along the way I’ve had the privilege of meeting many runners – from elites to everyday runners. It’s hard not to be inspired after watching runners and walkers meet the challenge of a marathon, half marathon or shorter distance, many for the first time.  In 2011, I had my “aha” moment – I met Kathrine Switzer and promised her that I would finish a half marathon before the next time she saw me. I fulfilled that pledge and have never forgotten the feeling of satisfaction as I crossed the finish line.

Second – slow running: It didn’t take me long to realize that I was going to be a “slow but steady” runner. I have a couple of foot issues that come and go, and taking it easier on course keeps my feet happy. I started running more in 2012 – mostly shorter distances, but wasn’t seeing much progress in my times. But I started losing weight later that year, and started to see improved results. Crossing the finish line felt better and better, as did collecting the race medal and wearing it proudly the rest of the day. My preferred distance these days is 10K and under, but there are so many great races around Vancouver that it’s not hard to find one. We also live five blocks from the ocean, so training runs are incredibly scenic.

Last – the fundraising: I’ve participated in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge for 10 years now. When I joined the Vancouver Public Library Foundation last year, I knew that the Charity Challenge was a great fit. There are so many enthusiastic runners at the library, and with a staff of 800 it wasn’t hard to put a team together – “Readers in Motion”. Every morning I walk into this spectacular building knowing I have the best job ever. Funds raised from the Charity Challenge will fund valuable early literacy programs for young children, reading mentoring programs for teens and children, and spaces such as the Inspiration Lab, the first free digital creation space in Vancouver. We’re organizing a “treat trolley” in early June to help raise awareness and funds for our team. For my own fundraising, I’m not beneath bribery – offering home-baked cookies to friends that pledge me. They’re all pretty generous – I’m very lucky to have them in my life.

 

Woodfine and Sexton Claim Frigid Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8k

By | Race Roster Spring Run-Off | No Comments

By Paul Gains 

Tristan Woodfine successfully defended his Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k title today while the women’s race went to London, Ontario’s Leslie Sexton. 

Held in Toronto’s scenic High Park for the 41st consecutive year, the race launched the 2018 Canada Running Series. Spring seemed to have been delayed though as runners were subjected to sub-freezing temperatures and a strong wind.  

Sexton and Woodfine, who is studying to be a paramedic at the Ontario Health and Technology College, were the 2017 CRS overall champions. They both earn 45 points to go to the top of this year’s CRS points race. 

Brave early front running from Kyle Grieve, proved beneficial to Woodfine.  

The 24 year old towed the field through the halfway point in 12:27 with Woodfine, Trevor Hofbauer and a half dozen other ambitious contenders two seconds behind. But over the next two kilometres Hofbauer, who was using the race as both a workout and a fitness test before racing the Prague Marathon next month, took command. 

The Spring Run Off finishes atop a steep 352 metre climb and it was just before the foot of this hill that Woodfine made a decisive move. Charging past the tall figure of Hofbauer he eventually squeezed out a ten second margin of victory stopping the clock at 24:36 to earn $2,000 first place prize money.  

Hofbauer held on to second while Grieve was an impressive third in 24:52.

“It’s definitely a positive sign,” Woodfine said of his win. “I have been doing marathon training, lots of marathon tempo, so coming down to 8k and being able to race pretty quick is nice because I haven’t done much running at that pace. I am definitely happy.” 

Tristan Woodfine. Photo Credit: Inge Johnson/Canada Running Series

“I got up that first hill at 3k feeling pretty good and thought ‘alright if I can hold this effort the next couple of kilometres I should be able to punch out that last 2k pretty good’ And, knowing this course, if you go out too hard that last ‘K’ will punish you.” 

Hofbauer, who was first Canadian finisher at last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and was crowned 2017 Canadian Marathon Champion, was pleased with his performance. 

“I was catching up on Kyle but then Tristan blew by me,” he said. “I told him to ‘go get it.’ I wasn’t concerned about pushing on that hill.  Tristan got it and I am happy for him. I think I am in a good spot and will have to see how it plays out in a few weeks.”

Sexton’s victory was impressive. By three kilometres she had a commanding lead. The expected challenge from Sasha Gollish never materialized as the 36 year old Canadian international stepped off the course unable to overcome the flu.  

By 4k, which she reached in 13:55, Sexton had an advantage of more than twenty seconds. At the finish she had stretched that to 59 seconds, finishing in 27:53 with Laura Desjardins of the Newmarket Huskies second in 28:52. Rachel Hannah of New Balance, the 2015 Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist who had also been suffering from a cold, finished third in 29:21. 

“I am happy with how that went,” a very composed Sexton revealed. “I actually came down with a cold a few day ago and so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready to race today. I was feeling alright this morning, so I thought I would go out and give it a good effort and not worry about the time.  

Leslie Sexton. Photo Credit: Inge Johnson/Canada Running Series

“I am happy with it. It’s a big confidence boost going into the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal two weeks from now.  I was pushing the pace from the start. At the hill around 3k Sasha must have pulled out. The bottom of the hill I had people with me; when I was at the top I sort of looked behind me and didn’t see anyone behind me.” 

Desjardins, another in the long line of national class runners coached by Hugh Cameron, was pleased to be on the podium 

“To be honest, I don’t have as much experience as those other girls have. I just did what my coach said ‘stay positive throughout the whole thing.’ I knew they were ahead of me but I just stayed focused on what I was doing and didn’t worry about anyone else. 

“People were telling me I was second but I just was always thinking ‘someone could be coming up behind you.’ I felt pretty strong, my coach is big into hills. So it was tough but I kept pushing until the end.” 

This was the 41st running of the Spring Run Off and once again the race got underway with the traditional playing of bagpiper Dave McGonigal. Perhaps he was the only one present to have wished for a warmer day. He wore his kilt. 

For full results, visit springrunoff.ca  

Race Day Tips for the Race Roster Spring Run-Off

By | Race Roster Spring Run-Off | No Comments

By Coach Colin, High Park Rogue Runners

You’ve done it. You’re injury-free, you’re fit, you braved the early mornings and winter weather and now you’re race ready. So, what next? Tackling this course requires a bit more planning than your regular race. The allure of the course is its scenery, its mixed terrain, and above all else, its signature hills. With just a few tips and a little bit of planning, you’ll be all set to make the most of your fitness and have a great race.

Perhaps the best advice I can give on race day is to leave the watch at home. Gasp, I know! But, the hills that give the Spring Run-Off its reputation are the hills that make traditional pacing extremely difficult. Instead, focus on how you feel. Even the flattest stretches of this race are covered in rolling hills. As such, your pace will fluctuate during the race and focusing too intently on your pace can demoralize you. Relax, take a deep breath, put the watch down, and focus on running well and having fun! You’ll be surprised how well you can do by listening to your body and enjoying your surroundings.

The Start of the Race

There are two big hills in the 8k race – Centre Road and Spring Road – and one big hill in the 5k race – Spring Road. If you’re doing the 8k, Centre Road hill is about 3k into the race. If you go out too hard, this hill will let you know. Try to stay relaxed at the start of the race and don’t let your adrenaline fool you. After about 300m the hill levels out with a much smaller incline. Whatever you do, just don’t panic. Stay focused on your form, stay relaxed, and when you get to the top of the hill, instead of stopping to catch your breath, take a deep breath and keep running – remember what you practiced in training with flat stretches after a hill. You’ll be surprised how quickly your heart rate goes back down after you crest the hill. Count to five in your head and you’ll notice most of that discomfort is already gone!

The Downhills

As much as we’ve focused on the uphill portions of this race, there are a considerable number of downhill sections as well. When you’re running downhill, try to let the force of gravity pull you. Don’t try to force yourself to slow down – that breaking motion can create a jarring effect on your legs, which will slow you down and create more fatigue. Running at the rate the hill pulls you will get you down the hill the quickest with the least amount of strain. Just stay relaxed, and lean slightly forward. Let the hill do the work.

Spring Road. La pièce de résistance.

Spring Road: the place where legends are made. The epic showdown for the coveted title of King and Queen of the Hill! We’ve touched on all of the basics that will help you crush this hill – don’t start the race too fast, stay relaxed, don’t panic, drive the knees and arms, focus on form, and don’t slouch those shoulders when you fatigue – but what I want to emphasize about this hill is actually what comes before it… a flat stretch of ground! The hill is at the end of Spring Road. The road itself is about 1.2k long, which includes nearly 900m of flat running before reaching the hill. In my experience, once people get to Spring Road, they feel like they’re in the home stretch and pick up their effort. 900m is a long way to get though, especially when there’s a large hill after it! My advice is again to stay calm and keep your effort the same, not to increase it. Don’t get carried away by what feels like the first stretch of flat ground you’ve experienced all day. Conserve that last bit of energy for the grand finale! Once you arrive at the hill, buckle down and dig deep. Let the sounds of the cheering crowds pull you along and bask in the knowledge that in just 300m you will have conquered this beast! You’ve got this!

Above all else, just have fun! This is a wonderful race in a beautiful park with lots of amazing people! Enjoy the race and immerse yourself in the full experience! I’ll be there to cheer you all up those hills! Best of luck!

Race Roster Spring Run-Off – Advice from the Elites

By | Race Roster Spring Run-Off | No Comments

Tristan Woodfine, defending RRSRO champion:

“I’d say to make sure to save something for that last kilometre with that hill. If you come into that too tired it’s a brutal hill. Save a little bit for that.”

Rachel Hannah, 2015 Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist

“Obviously you don’t want to go out too hard. One thing in the back of my mind, I left something for the end (when winning the 2016 RRSRO). This one I saved a little bit extra for the end. If it comes down to you and another person on that hill you want to have as much energy as possible.

“If you have a couple of weeks of training it’s good to incorporate some hills. You can do some hills running at the end of a workout just to simulate that feeling of burning in your legs.”

Trevor Hofbauer, 2017 Canadian Marathon Champion

“My advice would be to enjoy the moment as much as possible, regardless of race time, and save some energy for the final hill. Being the first Canada Running Series event of the year and, for many, their first race of the year, it’s best to run the race with a focus on enjoying the experience over any sort of
performance goal.

“For tackling that final 365m hill, I’d advise incorporating hills into easy runs or workouts over the next few next weeks to build strength. It’s as simple as finding a 100-200m hill and running up three or four times at a race effort towards the end of your run.”

Alex Hutchinson, author of ‘Endurance: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance’:

“My usual advice for tackling hills in a race is to take it easier than you think you should, with the goal of maintaining your effort rather than your pace. For the ‘Kill the Hill Challenge’ my advice is different. Because it’s right at the end of the race my advice is simple: sprint! It’ll hurt, but that’s okay because
you’re almost done!”

Leslie Sexton, 2017 Canadian Marathon Champion and defending CRS champion:

“Don’t get sucked into going too fast too early. You can’t worry too much about the hill. It’s at the end of the race anyway so you are going to give it whatever you have left. So being smart early on can really help.”

Sasha Gollish, Canadian national team member

“The first race of the season shouldn’t be your best race, nobody wants to peak early! It’s where you get to test out the training you’ve put in over the winter, feel the roads again under your feet, compete with a whole bunch of people around you again.The hill hurts everyone, elite, newbie, veteran alike.

No matter how fast you get to the hill or up the hill, it still stings.”

Canada Running Series partners with lululemon for Toronto Waterfront 10K and new Edmonton 10K

By | Toronto Waterfront 10K | No Comments

March 16, 2018 (Toronto) – For the second year in a row, Canada Running Series is delighted to partner with lululemon for the Toronto Waterfront 10K taking place on Saturday, June 16, 2018.

An exciting addition to the Canada Running Series race calendar, lululemon will also partner for the Edmonton 10K, a brand new race coming to Alberta’s capital on Sunday, July 22, 2018. Runners will cross the High Level Bridge, run along scenic Saskatchewan Drive through the tree lined streets of Windsor Park, back over the bridge, and finish with a party at Alberta Legislature Grounds.

Earlier this year, Canada Running Series announced the appointment of Ryan Chilibeck as Western Race Director. Ryan is thrilled to bring the Canada Running Series and lululemon experience to his hometown:

“I’m beyond excited that my first project with Canada Running Series will be a collaborative effort with lululemon to bring a high-calibre 10K road race to my hometown. We have been working hard to ensure that every detail of the event will showcase the absolute best of Edmonton. We want our guests to have an amazing race experience that is memorable for racers, spectators, volunteers, and our entire community. This city, and the amazing running culture within it, is a bit of a hidden gem so we’re grateful to create something we can all be proud of and make the Edmonton 10K a staple of the annual YEG racing calendar.”

Once again, lululemon will transform the race experience pre and post-race with highlights such as:

  • Complimentary Training Program: Participants will be able to take part in an 8-week training program in Toronto and Edmonton, led by run ambassadors at select lululemon stores.
  • Official lululemon Participant Shirts: As the official retailer and apparel partner of the event, lululemon will be providing a technical race shirt to all runners.
  • Complimentary Race Photos: All photos will be complimentary to download for runners this year. Runners can pre-register with Marathon-Photos to have their photos automatically uploaded to Facebook as they become available.
  • Enhanced Cheer Stations: Runners will be treated to unique, on-site cheer stations featuring local entertainment.
  • Post-Race Party: Runners and their families will be invited to a post-race party including a DJ, stretching and yoga, multiple vendors, food trucks and an overall really good time.

“We’re thrilled to share the news about the expansion of our all-Canadian partnership with lululemon,” said Canada Running Series Race Director, Alan Brookes. “We are both passionately committed to excellence, to innovation, and creating outstanding, meaningful running experiences. Together, I believe we can continue to transform the running space in our country and send good vibes across the planet.”

Registration for the Toronto Waterfront 10K will open on Friday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. EST and those interested in participating are encouraged to register early as the race is capped at 8,500 runners.

Registration for the Edmonton 10K will open on Thursday, April 5 at 10:00 a.m. MST and will be capped at 5,000 runners.

Information and entry:

Toronto Waterfront 10K: http://toronto10k.com

Edmonton 10K: http://edmonton10k.com

About Canada Running Series

Canada Running Series is the nation’s premier running circuit with 8 events: 4 in Toronto, 2 in Vancouver 1 in Montreal and 1 in Edmonton. It annually attracts some 60,000 participants and raises more than $6 million for some 320 mostly-local charities. The Series includes the IAAF Gold Label Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships. Since 1999, CRS has gained international recognition for innovation and organization.

We are passionately committed to staging great experiences for runners of all levels from Canadian Olympians and International stars, to healthy lifestyle people and charity runners; and to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process. Our mission is “building community through the sport of running.”

Contact:

Canada Running Series
Jenna Pettinato, Manager of Communications
416-944-2765, ext: 511
jenna@canadarunningseries.com

lululemon
Seema Dhillon, Canadian PR Manager
604-783-0324
sdhillon@lululemon.com

Vancouver Combo Pack Savings for 2018

By | Eastside 10k, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

For those thinking ahead to the 2018 running season on the West Coast, Canada Running Series is excited to announce some exclusive savings through the Vancouver Combo Pack!

Scotiabank Vancouver Half

$ 79

Early Bird - until May 17Event Date – June 24, 2018
Regular price – $120

Register

Under Armour Eastside 10k

$ 34

Early Bird until May 17Run Date – September 15, 2018
Regular Price – $60

Register

Vancouver Combo PackBest Value

% Save 10%

Combo RateAn extra 10% savings on both the Scotiabank Vancouver 5k and Under Armour Eastside 10k, when you register for both at the same time!
Regular Price – $180

Register

Scotiabank Vancouver 5k

$ 39

Early Bird - until May 17Run Date – June 24, 2018
Regular Price – $60

Register

Under Armour Eastside 10k

$ 34

Early Bird until May 17Run Date – September 15, 2018
Regular Price – $60

Register

Vancouver Combo PackBest Value

% Save 10%

Combo RateAn extra 10% savings on both the Scotiabank Vancouver 5k and Under Armour Eastside 10k, when you register for both at the same time!
Regular Price – $120

Register

Don’t miss out on the best pricing for 2018!
Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k – June 24, 2018
Under Armour Eastside 10k – September 15, 2018

*When registering for both the June and September races together, your registration for each event is automatically discounted by an extra 10%. The combo rate is also valid for the June 5k + September 10k combination. This discount is only valid on purchases made through the Combo Pack registration form and cannot be retroactively applied to existing, separate registrations.

**A discounted Combo Pack will continue to be available into 2018, but prices for both the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and 5k will increase at midnight (PST) on January 11th, meaning the price of the Combo Pack will also increase accordingly.

How to “Kill the Hill” at the Race Roster Spring Run-Off

By | Race Roster Spring Run-Off | No Comments

By Coach Colin, High Park Rogue Runners

Hills, hills, hills.

It’s difficult to think of the Race Roster Spring Run Off and not think of hills. In fact, both the 5k and 8k race have built their reputation around the steep climb up Spring Road just before the finish line. You could probably count the number of feet of level ground in this race on just one hand. So, how do you possibly prepare for this?

You might find it surprising, but tackling this race doesn’t require an overhaul of your training. Just a few small shifts can make a significant difference in how you perform come race day:

Step 1: Get to race day healthy!

When selecting or designing a training program, make sure you’re choosing the one that gives you the greatest odds of getting to race day in one piece! Try to avoid programs with drastic jumps in number of days you run, weekly mileage, or intensity.

Cold weather can make it tough to stay motivated, and the tendency is for people to try to make up for lost time by cramming as much training into a short time frame as possible. Unfortunately, this greatly increases your risk of injuries. Instead, consider finding a group of people to run with to keep you accountable to your training. The city is filled with run crews, clubs, and stores with training groups that cater to all levels of runners. The best way to stay healthy is to enjoy the process!

Step 2: Add a bit of specificity to your training.

If you want to get better at hills, you’re going to have to run some hills. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and find the steepest hill and run it until you pass out. Simply changing your route to include a few hills once a week, or adding a few hill sprints to the end of one of your weekly runs can make a big difference.

Hill sprints: Find a hill with a moderate slope, and run for 5 to 10 seconds at about 90% effort up that hill. Stop, walk down the hill, let your heart rate lower, then do it again. 4 to 6 hill repeats once a week is a great way for you to increase your strength on hills, even if you’re a more seasoned runner. If you’re new to running, I would wait until you have a solid base (minimum of four weeks of injury-free, consistent running) before adding them to your training.

For veteran runners looking to add a few more hills to your training, consider some longer hill repeats. Set aside one run day as a hill workout. Start with an easy 10-minute warm up, then find a hill that’s about 300m long (the finishing hill of the race on Spring Road in High Park is the perfect option when it’s clear of ice and snow). You can start with a couple hill sprints, then follow it up by running the entire hill at an 80% effort. I always prefer to add a flat stretch of about 50m after the hill to continue the hard effort so that I get used to running through the hill, not just up it – remember, that finish line isn’t directly at the top of the hill, you still have about 100m to go once you’re up!

If this is your first time adding hill workouts to your training, start with a lower number of reps – two or three – then add one rep each week. Again, it’s always best to get a solid base of fitness before adding these to your training, so consider adding them to your training about four weeks in if all things have gone smoothly.

I usually recommend cutting the hill workouts out of your training about two weeks out from race day so you can focus on recovering a bit more. Switch to flatter routes with some rolling hills in those last two weeks. Finish each hill workout with a 10-minute easy cool down.

Step 3: Focus on your form.

If you want to make the hills a little bit easier, you can do a few things to focus on your form while running. Drive your knees and pump your arms. When your legs start to tire, really focus on keeping those arms pumping. You’ll be surprised how effective this can be when you start to feel like you can’t lift your knees anymore!

Keep your torso upright and your eyes straightforward. The tendency is for most people to look up to the crest of the hill to keep them moving forward, but if you’re looking too far up it can shift your body weight too far back, which adds more effort to running up the hill. I find staring at the crest of the hill can also become demoralizing when you’re tiring, so keep those eyes straight ahead and up a few feet and just focus on staying calm, maintaining good form, and doing your best. Instinctively, when we start to tire we slump our shoulders. It’s important to keep ourselves from doing this though, as it makes it harder to get enough oxygen to keep working hard. Keep that torso upright even when you start to fatigue!

If nothing else, focusing on your form while running up the hill can provide a welcome distraction from the discomfort of the hill!