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Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be Live Streamed

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By Paul Gains

Running fans from around the world will once again be able to watch the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in its entirety thanks to a unique partnership between race organizers, sponsors and Astrodog Media.

Beginning at 8:15 a.m. (EDT) October 22nd viewers need only log in to STWM.ca (the race is also being carried on cbcsports.ca and athleticscanada.tv) for four hours of live coverage. There will be no geo-blocking.

The 2017 edition of this IAAF Gold Label race features the best men’s field Canada has ever seen with Kenya’s Dickson Chumba, winner of Chicago and Tokyo marathons and his countryman the defending champion Philemon Rono, taking on a strong field of Ethiopian talent. Endeshaw Negasse (also a past Tokyo winner) and Tadese Tola, like Chumba, belong to the ‘sub 2:05 club’ and will promise an exciting battle for the $25,000 first place prize money.

The women’s race is also strong. Ethiopia is sending Fatuma Sado, second here two years ago in 2:24:16, Marta Megra (2:24:32 personal best) and Sutame Asefa (2:24:00 personal best Dubai 2014) It will be left up to Angela Tanui of Kenya to upset the favoured Ethiopians. She has a best of 2:26:31 from this year’s Vienna Marathon.

The race once again serves as the Athletics Canada Marathon Championships with a new generation Canadian marathoners toeing the line.

Last year more than 74,000 viewers tuned in to view the race from 129 countries around the world. Matt Hortobayi, Executive Producer, points out that the production will again include nine broadcast cameras, three promotional cameras as well as a drone.

The talented commentary team is comprised of 2016 Canadian Olympian Krista DuChene, Michael Doyle, the editor of Canadian Running magazine and Tim Hutchings.

Hutchings is a much accomplished and extremely busy commentator having worked for NBC, Eurosport, CBC, BBC and many other television networks covering top-flight athletics since his retirement from competitive distance running. He was a two time IAAF World Cross Country silver medalist and finished 4th in the 1984 Olympic 5000m final.

“The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is deservedly regarded as a world-class event and it should be,” says Hutchings, “because Toronto is a big, powerful and beautiful city, one that oozes energy and class in so many ways and provides a wonderful backdrop for the elite races to unfold over a fast course that has produced great contests year after year.”

Hutchings relishes the opportunity to commentate on this year’s race.

“The return of the 2016 men’s champion Philemon Rono of Kenya, who will duel with one of the all-time greats in Dickson Chumba, is a match made in heaven,” he explains. “Rono won easily last year and clearly can go faster, while Chumba is consistent and has many times run faster than his compatriot. Throw in three or four others who, on paper at least, look like they can win on any given day, and we are pretty much guaranteed another quick, competitive and yet unpredictable battle.

“By contrast, the women’s elite field has less experience but equally exciting talent, while keeping us guessing as to who can deliver on the day; Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa for example, is just 23, yet with 2:24.00 is the fastest in the race and has only run two marathons.

“Those are just two examples of head-to-heads that I’m keen to see deliver what we can expect in Toronto – memorable world-class racing, fast times and importantly, great quality pictures for myself, Krista Duchene and Michael Doyle to describe.”

New this year, select celebrity runners will be equipped with GPS trackers so they can be easily found on the course increasing the efficiency with which the motorcycle mounted cameras can find them. Of course, the elites will be followed the majority of the time. This is the seventh year that Astrodog Media has produced the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

The rest of the broadcast team reads like a who’s who of Canadian distance running with Canadian marathon record holder, Lanni Marchant, handling social media, Commonwealth 1,500m bronze medalist Kate Van Buskirk conducting finish line interviews, Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist Rachel Hannah doing research and Reid Coolsaet, a two-time Canadian Olympian assisting with the elite athletes.

With a fast field assembled this year and a crackerjack broadcast team, fans around the world can certainly enjoy all the action of this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on their smart phones, tablets or computers.

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IMPORTANT. MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media interested in access on race weekend, including press conferences, start/finish lines and Media Centre, credentials are an absolute requirement. Please apply here: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/media/#media

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

Remembering Ed Whitlock at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

As the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon quickly approaches, organizers have revealed plans to honour a man who was a critical and inspirational part of the event for years but who, sadly, passed away seven months ago.

Ed Whitlock was 86 when he succumbed to prostate cancer on March 13th.

Over the years Ed defied aging to set world age-class records that perhaps will never be broken and which astonished runners around the globe. He also developed a close relationship with Toronto Waterfront, turning up for press conferences in his suit and tie whenever he was asked, and supplying the mantra which Race Director Alan Brookes eagerly adopted: “Don’t limit yourself.”

Ed, as he was known to the thousands who queued up to meet him at races, or, who ran alongside him, was the oldest man to beat three hours for the marathon when he ran 2:52:47 at age 69. But that was only the beginning.

A World Masters’ 70+ record followed when he ran 2:59:10 at age 72 in 2003 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and became the first and only septuagenarian to go under the magic 3-hour mark. He took that out of sight with a 2:54:49 at age 73 at the 2004 event. Indeed, as Brookes is fond of saying, Toronto Waterfront was “Ed’s race”. As his fame spread globally, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon took off, almost tripling in numbers between 2003 and 2005, then earning first an IAAF Silver Label, then the coveted IAAF Gold Label.

2012 Scotiabank Toronto Marathon, October 14, 2012. Photo credit: Victor Sailer/Canada Running Series

Ed went on to set World Masters’ marathon records for age 75+, 80+ and most recently 85+ with a time of 3:56:38 last October 16th, 2016 in Toronto. In all, he set roughly 25 World Masters’ records over distances from 1,500m to the marathon. All this success meant that Ed was the subject of innumerable magazine and newspaper interviews and adored by runners of all abilities. It was a conundrum for him as he was as humble as much as he was talented.

“I don’t know how to respond to them. Well how do you respond to that?” he said with a laugh on one occasion. “I suppose it’s nice for people to say I inspire them but I am somewhat embarrassed and I don’t know what the appropriate response is to that.

“I don’t consider myself to be an inspiring person. I am not one to stand up on the stage and say ‘you all can do this.’”

No doubt he would be a little embarrassed then by what Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon organizers have planned to remember him.

With the blessing of his family, a #RememberingEd Signing wall at the Runners’ Expo is to be set up along with a display of memorabilia including Ed’s famous singlets, shoes, medals, trophies and photos, courtesy of the Whitlock family and the Milton Hall of Fame.

Also at the Runners’ Expo, noted chalk artist, Victor Fraser, will do a live drawing of Ed using a photo taken at the 2003 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

At the 8:45 a.m. race start there will be a minute’s silence in his memory. That will be followed by perhaps the most exciting element in this tribute, the inclusion of three designated pacemakers who will take runners through to the finish in three of Ed’s most recognized world marathon record times: 2:54:49 (age 73), 3:15:54 (age 80) and 3:56:38 (age 85).

Ed Whitlock Pacer bibs. Meet the Pacers this Sat Oct 21st at the International Friendship Run – Enercare Centre, Hall B at 9 a.m.

The volunteer pacemakers are from local running clubs and crews: Nick Croker from Black Lungs Toronto (2:54); Noel Guy from Longboat Roadrunners (3:15) and Ben Kaplan from iRun assuming the 3:56 pacemaking duty. Kaplan is writing a book on Ed tentatively entitled “The Master.”

In the words of Alan Brookes, with whom Ed had a close relationship: “This year’s race is going to be very emotional. No Ed. But he’ll be with us. He’ll be with us forever. He’s part of our DNA, of who we are, and what we’ve all achieved together — for our event, our sport, our city, our country and running worldwide. We just have to carry the torch from here, and never limit ourselves. Join us in #RememberingEd”

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For further information: www.STWM.ca

IMPORTANT. MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media interested in access on race weekend, including press conferences, start/finish lines and Media Centre, credentials are an absolute requirement. Please apply here: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/media/#media

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

How to Prep for Race Day. By John Stanton, Founder of Running Room.

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By John Stanton, Founder of Running Room. 

As race day approaches, you may have a few questions on final training and race strategy. Here are some thoughts from founder of Running Room, John Stanton.

At running events and expos, I am frequently asked: “What is the bare minimum I need to run to prepare for a big race?”

The answer is: you need to run four times a week. Two of these runs are simply for base training, while the other two should be high-quality runs with a focus on speed and stamina. The quality runs should consist of a tempo speed run and a weekend long slow endurance run.

For a tempo workout, begin and end with a 1K warm-up and 1K cool-down. The kilometres in between (ranging from 5 to 10K) should be run at a pace about 15 to 30 seconds slower than your current 5K race pace. Tempo runs help your body and mind adapt to running at an uncomfortable pace. They help increase your VO2 Max (your body’s ability to take in and utilize oxygen at the muscle layer to make energy), as well as push out your lactate threshold (the point at which you feel that burning sensation in your legs from the lactic acid). These workouts will make you a more efficient runner and improve your ability to fight off fatigue.

To teach your body that you can pull out some speed when needed, add a short burst to your tempo runs. During your weekly tempo session, include a repeat that is 60 to 90 seconds faster than your projected race day pace. The faster running over a shorter period of time will build your confidence and add some snap to your leg turnover rate, while minimizing your injury risk.

Your long slow run is just that: long, slow distance. Your pace should be about 60 to 90 seconds slower than your projected race pace. Doing your long runs at a slower pace helps your body build endurance without wearing it down. Most running injuries come from running too fast—I have yet to hear of a runner becoming injured from running too slow. The purpose of the long run is to introduce your body to the rigours of running for an extended period of time, so be disciplined about the slower pace required for these workouts.

The two weekly base training or “maintenance” runs are short runs of 3 to 5K. These are as much for your head as they are for your body, and they should be run at a comfortable pace.

They are designed to keep your total weekly base miles up and act as recovery runs to keep your legs loose and limber.

Following this four-runs-per-week program is useful, especially when you’re trying to balance your personal, professional and community activities and still find time to run.

Race Strategy

There are three strategies for race day:

  • Start hard and fast and fade in the later stages of the race.
  • Start slow and run a faster second half of the race.
  • Run the whole race at a steady consistent pace.

My recommendation is to run the whole race at an even pace. This approach will, in theory, produce the best times for the runner. Start too fast, and you will discover an early and deep fatigue created from early oxygen debt. Running the final stages of the race is a challenge because of the deep fatigue. For the best recovery, start slow and build into the race. Your optimum time may not be achieved, but your post-race recovery will be improved. It makes for the most comfortable race. Even pacing will give you the best race results.

Angela Tanui Flying Kenyan Flag at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

A strong contingent of Ethiopian runners will make their way across the Atlantic to compete in this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and so it falls upon Angela Tanui to be the Kenyan ‘flag bearer’ at this IAAF Gold Label race.

Tanui will not shy from the important role she finds herself in when she toes the line October 22nd. The rivalry between the East African neighbours is legendary and longstanding, particularly in Toronto. Ethiopian women have been victorious here seven of the last ten years. But as an indication of how close the rivalry is, the Course and Canadian All-comers Women’s record is 2:22:43, held jointly by Sharon Cherop KEN (2010) and Koren Jelala Yal ETH (2011) who ran identical times.

“Off course, yes, as a Kenyan I always want to make Kenya proud of me,” the 25 year old Tanui says of the matter.

Best known for her success at the shorter distances – last year she set personal bests of 31:26 in the 10k and a stunning 1:07:16 for the half marathon – she made her marathon debut earlier this year with a clocking of 2:26:31 at the Vienna Marathon. That was good enough for 5th place. She admits learning much from her experience.

“I learnt that the marathon is a calculation race which needs a smart mind,” she reveals. “I have increased the mileage per week and have planned an extra-long run (35 kilometres) compared to the last marathon preparation.

“My expectation is to run a personal best. With the debut in Vienna I am confident I learned a lot and can really improve. I can’t tell (by how much) but that is my inner prayer. Of course, the training was tougher and I will arrive much better prepared for this event in Toronto.”

Tanui is from a large family in Uasin-Gishu county, around 60 kilometres from Iten, where she is living and training. She has two brothers and four sisters one of whom, Euliter, is also runner and lives with her in Iten. Tanui’s boyfriend, Elijah Tirop, with whom she also shares her home, will accompany her to Toronto as he will perform pacemaking duties for the elite men.

Among her training partners are a trio of past Toronto racers, Ishhimael Chemtan (2015 men’s champion), Rebecca Chesir (3rd in 2016) and Sharon Cherop (2010 winner).  They are all represented by Demadonna Athletic Promotions, an Italian sports agency.

“I spoke of the race with them and they told me that it is a non-predictable race which varies according to the weather conditions,” she says of her reconnaissance.

Although she spends much of her time training and recovering, Tanui enjoys relaxing while watching Nigerian movies. And like many of her compatriots and training partners she is also a football fan.

“I am a fan and supporter of Manchester United and my favourite player is (Javier) Chicharito (Hernandez) even if he is not playing for Manchester this year,” she adds.

Although she is just 25 years old and conceivably has another five to ten years of running in her she has already had thoughts of what life might look like upon retirement.

“I would like to be a coach,” she says. “I’m accumulating a lot of experience in the field and would like one day to share my knowledge with the young runners of my village in order to give them the opportunity to improve their lifestyle and have an income from this activity.”

The future is certainly bright and she is only just beginning her marathon career. Suddenly, though she must carry the honour of her nation on the world stage. The question remains whether she can unsettle the Ethiopians on the streets of Toronto and carve out a victory. Her countrymen will be watching.

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For further information and to join Angela on the Start line, www.STWM.ca

IMPORTANT – MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media interested in access on race weekend, including press conferences, start/finish lines and Media Centre, credentials are an absolute requirement. Please apply here: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/media/#media

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

Cam Levins To Race ‘Half’ at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

In what could be a massive boost for Canadian marathoning, Cam Levins has announced he will tackle the half marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 22nd.

The former Canadian 10,000m record holder at 27:07.92 has extraordinary credentials on the track, and coupled with his appetite for high mileage training volume it is only a matter of time before he makes an impact in the full marathon distance. His debut at the half marathon in Toronto is a giant leap towards that goal.

Now 28 years old, the native of Black Creek, B.C. had surgery in July 2016 to correct ongoing problems in his foot. Since then he has been especially cautious though he has set an ambitious goal for Toronto.

“My plan is to go out with the marathon pace group at 63 minutes,” he reveals. “What I would like to do is try and qualify for the 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. So whatever it takes to do that at the very least and if I am feeling good (I will) knock it out of the park. That’s sort of my main goal going into this.”

At a Portland Twilight meet in June, Levins took to the track and ran 5000m in 14:10.92 which is almost a minute slower than his personal best. But it was a starting point.  In August, he raced the Beach to Beacon 10K in 29:24. More recently, he won the Canadian 5K Championship. Being selected to represent Canada at the half-marathon championships in Valencia, Spain, on March 24th, is therefore, a tangible goal.

The comeback has been mounted with an enormous change in his coaching situation. In July he left the Nike Oregon Project, the Alberto Salazar coached group which includes Olympic medalists Mo Farah, Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp, to return to his former college coach, Eric Houle of Southern Utah University.

Reuniting with Houle, who is a proponent of very high training volumes, has seen him head up to Utah’s high altitude for weeks at a time. Cedar City is at roughly 6,000 feet above sea level and some of his longer runs have taken place at 9,000 feet.

“I spent all of July, a bit of June and a bit of August up there getting on the same page as Coach Houle,” he explains. “I don’t feel necessarily the need to be there right now. I think he understands where I am. He continues to give me workouts from a distance. I have been able to train with Ryan Vail here. My plan is to hop back and forth.”

Levins also moved homes during the summer and discovered, to his delight, that American marathoner Ryan Vail was a neighbour. They have been training together up until Vail’s 8th place finish at the Berlin Marathon on September 24th. Levins is relatively pleased with his training.

“I think it’s coming along pretty well, some hiccups here and there,” Levins says. “I feel pretty good about it. It has just been forward momentum, not incredibly fast, but I think I am continuing to improve, so I am happy with that.

“Coach Houle and I have agreed to that (high mileage) and we have been doing it as much as I have been able to. That’s the idea for sure. I have done some 20 mile runs pretty consistently. I live just a couple of blocks from Ryan Vail and he has been a fantastic training partner.”

Levins had originally entertained the idea of running a full marathon but realized he must contain his enthusiasm somewhat. He credits Eric Houle for providing a solid ground on which to build for the future.

“Coach Houle and I think one of the big reasons it works is that we have a really good athlete-coach relationship which I didn’t realize was so important until I left (Utah),” he explains. “I didn’t realize how good ours was. Now, going back, there is a lot of trust there.

“If he tells me to do something, whether I have a discussion about it or not, I will do it. And, he will listen to me. The communication is there. He certainly believes in me. I trust him and if he pushes back on it, its ok. It’s a good dynamic, ultimately, that I just never really developed with the coaching of the Oregon Project.”

Leaving the Nike Oregon Project meant leaving Nike. Running fans have noticed him racing in all sorts of clothing, often his 2012 Canadian Olympic singlet and a variety of training shoes.

“I am wearing just whatever I want,” he declares. “I have run in some Nike and I have run in some Altra shoes just because my buddy runs for their company. But really I will run in whatever I feel like.”

For the most part, his foot is no longer troubling him although he sometimes feels an ache. He had been told that it might take a year or more for the pain to be completely gone. He puts this down to nerve damage from the surgery. But he is optimistic about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The half marathon distance will prove a good test of his fitness level and provide an indication of what he might expect in 2018.

“I am looking forward to a good track season next year. That is my plan right now, and using that strength and fitness to go into a marathon and knock it out of the park next year,” he says before unleashing specific goals.

“I want to qualify for the World Indoors. My focus will be at the 3000m and mile. Outdoors the 5K and 10K are obviously the big ones for me. I am not counting out anything.”

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For more information and to join Cam at this year’s race: http://STWM.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

 

Catherine Watkins Chasing Canadian Masters’ Marathon Record

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By Paul Gains

If things go according to plan, Catherine Watkins will be a new Canadian Masters’ record holder in the marathon come October 22nd.

The 46-year-old from Vancouver has set the women’s 45 years+ standard of 2:40:20 as her target when she lines up for the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That time was set by fellow British Columbian, Marilyn Arsenault at Toronto Waterfront event four years ago.

“That’s the goal,” she acknowledges with a smile. “I do think everything will have to fall into place for that to happen. It will have to be one of those days where everything goes well. I know I am physically capable of it but, if it’s windy or it’s hot, obviously that will alter that.

“I would be disappointed if the day was the right day and I felt like I should have run the time that I think I can run. I would definitely be disappointed. I know enough about the marathon and a lot of it is getting to the start line healthy. But anything can happen on the day. I have had mixed experiences in the marathon, ‘GI’ or weather-related issues.”

Two years ago Watkins won the Eugene Marathon in a personal best time of 2:42:35. She was also the Masters’ winner at the Houston Marathon earlier that same year. And, when a place on Canada’s Pan Am Games team opened up, she answered the call, finishing 8th in her first international Games. But like all Masters competitors she faces the constant aging process which makes training more difficult and recovery even more of a challenge.

“Eventually there is going to be slowing down,” she concedes. “But for the longer events the half marathon and marathon, that kind of training has a little more longevity for me. I find where I am slowing is definitely in the shorter distances. It has been harder to get the intensity, like in the 5k and 10k, I have noticed it a bit.”

Nevertheless, her Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon buildup has been encouraging. Healthy, and training consistently at 130 kilometres a week, she ran superbly at the recent Under Armour Eastside 10k in Vancouver, finishing in a time of 35:43 on a challenging course.

“I was actually really, really happy with that because it was in the middle of marathon training,” she adds. “So it’s hard to know how a 10k will go when you are in the middle of marathon training. I just felt really strong and consistent. I ‘even split’ the course and it was kind of a tough course to do that on. I ran 17:50 and 17:50 for my 5ks and it’s not really a fast course it was probably closer to a low 35 effort overall. So, I feel I am really in a good spot.”

With her two daughters in middle school she is able to do the necessary ‘pre-hab’ stretching and warm-ups prior to getting out for her training runs.

“I end up doing 45 minutes to an hour of rolling and physio before I head out the door and then in the evening more rolling and stretching,” she says of the technique which incorporates the use of massage balls.  “I am getting massages weekly and physio treatments every couple of weeks to keep everything on track. Gone are the days when I can just lace up the shoes and go for a run.”

Watkins laughs at her last statement. Clearly she is relishing her career in Masters’ running. A sponsorship from Oiselle was one of her rewards and just last weekend she spent time with other elite athletes and staff at a retreat in Sonoma, California. The break was a little relief from the constant training she has been doing with coach Richard Lee of the BC Endurance Project and fellow marathoner Kevin Coffey.

“It’s actually been going really well,” she says of her buildup. “When we first started out I thought ‘oh my gosh how am I going to do a marathon?’ as you always do when you start. The last few weeks everything has started to click at the perfect time. It has been good. I have got my last huge workout coming up this weekend, 37km I think, on Saturday.

“Richard comes on his bike and carries my bottles so I can practice feeding. This is great. That’s one of the hardest things to practice on your own, being able to drink at that pace and get the fueling. I am still practicing. I think I wear as much as I drink!”

An avid reader of books, Watkins is a member of a book club which meets every four to six weeks. The rest of her time is taken up with parenting two active girls. When possible, she admits with a laugh, she enjoys nap time.

It will be all business though when she arrives in Toronto for the Waterfront Marathon. There are records to be broken and should ideal conditions prevail the name Catherine Watkins could be in the record book.

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For more information and to join Catherine in this year’s race:  www.stwm.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

 

Uganda’s Alex Chesakit Racing at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

East African runners have dominated the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon the past two decades, but one thing this IAAF Gold Label race has never had is a Ugandan victor.

Alex Chesakit is hoping to upset the favoured Kenyans and Ethiopians when he lines up for this year’s event on October 22nd.

The 36 year-old native of Kapchorwa in Uganda’s eastern highlands ran a personal best of 2:11:01 at the 2016 Cape Town Marathon and credits the influence of 2012 Olympic Marathon Champion Stephen Kiprotich for his success.

“Stephen inspired me a lot,” says Chesakit of his famous countryman, who was also crowned the 2013 IAAF World Marathon Champion. “I am expecting a win and to run a good time in the marathon very soon.

“Stephen is the key athlete in Uganda, and Kapchorwa specifically, and a role model for the new generation like Joshua Cheptegei and other youngsters who are coming up now. I always train with Stephen when he’s at home in Kapchorwa.”

Cheptegei, of course, is the young Ugandan who pushed the British superstar Mo Farah all the way to the line in the 2017 World Championship 10,000m final before settling for the silver medal.

Kiprotich’s Olympic gold medal, Uganda’s first since John Akii-Bua’s 400m hurdles gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics, launched a newfound interest in distance running. And, when the nation’s capital, Kampala, hosted the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in March this year massive crowds came out to support their heroes.

It is precisely because of the growing interest in running that in November of last year Global Sports opened a training camp in Kapchorwa on Mount Elgon. Global manages Kiprotich as well as 2016 Olympic champion, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. The primary purpose of the new camp is to further develop talent in the region which has produced a string of international level distance runners. Most are preparing for the track but there more whose attention is focused completely on the half marathon and marathon distances.

Two full time coaches, a massage therapist – all Ugandans – work under a mentor coach from the Netherlands named Andy Ruiter here. At present they are working with about fifteen athletes most of whom are competing on the track still. Training there has lifted Chesakit’s expectations substantially.

“I live just outside the camp, but I am mostly there during the week especially when there is a key training session like track, fartlek, a long run and tempo runs,” he explains. “My house is near the track so when we go for a track workout I walk from home and meet the guys there.”

At home he has a family, a wife and three young children. Running, he says, is a means to provide a good lifestyle for them.

“Every marathon you run you take a new experience home and we try to improve for the next,” he says of his career to date.

“In Toronto I am hoping to break 2:10:00 for the first time which will help me to qualify for Commonwealth Games. I missed the World Championships in London due to visa issues. I was supposed to compete but the visa arrived too late.”

Like most East African runners Chesakit treats running as a profession and he realizes that time is fleeting.

“My goal is through running to secure finance for my family but ultimately to inspire many young talents in the sport,” Chesakit admits.

“I hope to compete for another ten years and my desire is to be a coach after retirement and help the new generation to get opportunities in life and show them the right way.”

The Toronto field is the strongest ever assembled in Canada with Kenyans Dickson Chumba, a past Chicago and Tokyo marathon winner, and defending Toronto champion, Philemon Rono already confirmed. Ethiopia will counter through the very talented duo of Solomon Deksisa, (2:06:22 at the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon) and Endeshaw Negesse, the 2015 Tokyo Marathon champion who has a personal best of 2:04:52.

Against such opposition, Chesakit will have his hands full. But the vision of being the first Ugandan to stand on the podium is a powerful one for this talented marathon runner.

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For more information and to join Alex Chesakit at this year’s race: http://STWM.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

 

 

Wonder Woman wins the Oasis ZooRun 10k

By | Oasis ZooRun | No Comments

TORONTO September 23rd. Canadian Olympian and national marathon record holder, Lanni Marchant won this morning’s 15th annual Oasis ZooRun 10k in 35:21, dressed as Wonder Woman. Toronto Olympic Club’s Wendimu Adamu took the men’s title in 31:01 over the hilly, winding course through the Toronto Zoo.  The 6th event in the seven-race Canada Running Series attracted a sold-out crowd of 5,500 participants from every Canadian province except Newfoundland, and 7 countries; 2,500 were in each of the 10k and 5k, with another 538 in the children’s Cub Run.  Conditions were fair for the 8am start of 10k, at 17c with some cloud-cover and no wind. By the time the recreational 5K and Cub Run took off at 10am and 11:30am, however, the skies were bright and clear and the temperature had risen another 10 degrees on an unseasonably warm autumn day.

Gradually returning from an illness that has taken out her whole 2017 racing year, Marchant decided to enter at the last minute, and do so in the ZooRun spirit by running in costume. “I’d say I’m about 80% right now,” she said after the race. “I’ve been doing a fair amount of easy running, about 130 to 145 kilometres a week, but this is the first week I’ve tried any quality, with a fartlek session. Last week in Vancouver (at Canada Running Series’ Under Armour Eastside 10k) was so much fun, and I’ve missed that. I want to have fun getting back to the high level of the sport, and that’s what a race like today was about.” But Wonder Woman also got in a little business, going to the front from the outset, pulling along a pack that included Masters athlete Lioudmila Kortchaguina, Newmarket Huskies’ Laura Desjardins,  Speed River TFC’s Katrina Alison, and Grand River Endurance’s Tanis Bolton. Marchant and Kortchaguina gradually moved away between 3k and 4k; then Marchant dropped Kortchaguina between 5k and 6k. “The wasn’t at all my plan,” said Lanni. “But then I had to commit to it and just keep pressing up the hills as best I could. I’m not going to lie, there were a few times I looked over my shoulder to make sure Lioudmila wasn’t coming back on me!” The 46-year-old Kortchaguina had the performance of the day, finishing a strong 2nd place, just 26 seconds back (35:47). Desjardins was 3rd, Alison 4th and Bolton 5th.

The men’s race featured an absorbing contest between Etobicoke’s Kyle Grieve and three of Toronto Olympic’s Ethiopian-Canadians: Wendimu Adamu who had won the Toronto Waterfront 10k in June, Hajin Tola and Berhanu Degefa. “We settled in the first 2km,” said Grieve. “A good group of guys. They did the work the first 3k, then I decided to take over and see if I could push it a little bit.” By 6k it was down to a duel between Grieve and Adamu. “We traded off the lead. He took the lead back around eight and a half K, but he didn’t gap me until about 500m to go. I tried to go for the win. It wasn’t in the cards today, but I’m happy with the effort,” said the 23-year-old Grieve.

Like Wonder Woman, many of the participants came for the fun and a family day at the Zoo, with free entry to all the runners. Costumes abounded. In the 10k, a pair of koalas took first prize. A zebra claimed the Cub Run costume award over a beautiful butterfly, and a shark/turtle/lobster team were applauded top honours in the 5K over a snow leopard, a bear, two wolves and a peacock. A unicorn and a large raptor were impressive “also-rans” in the 5K. The big winners on the day were the Toronto Zoo who took home a cheque for $46,000 to support their important animal conservation programs.

The final event of Canada Running Series takes place on October 22nd, with the IAAF Gold Label Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half-marathon & 5K. www.STWM.ca

 

 

Djibouti’s Mumin Gala to Race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

By | Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | No Comments

By Paul Gains

With their medal-winning performances at the1985 IAAF World Cup Marathon in Hiroshima a pair of Djiboutian runners left international sports journalists scratching their heads with one hand while turning the pages of a global atlas with the other.

“Where on earth is Djibouti?” they cried in unison.

Ahmed Salah and Djama Robleh finished first and third respectively, stunning the world class field and further adding to their legend by leading the country to the team gold medal.

Salah would defend his World Cup title two years later in Seoul before earning silver medals at both the 1987 and 1991 IAAF World Championships.  Although Salah and Robleh became national heroes, since then the country has not had anywhere near the level of success in the long distance events. Mumin Gala is hoping to change that.

Gala celebrated his 31st birthday on September 6th and has announced he will race the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 22nd. This will be his first marathon since finishing 12th in the Rio Olympics in 2:13:04 – just two places behind Canada’s Eric Gillis.

Though he had qualified to represent Djibouti at the 2017 IAAF World Championships, in the days leading up to the race, he decided not to run after injuring his calf. Now all his heavy marathon training is expected to pay off on the streets of Canada’s largest city.

He also represented his native country at the 2012 Olympics and finished 13th in the 5000m. He spent a few years in England racing as a member of the Newham and Essex Beagles whose most illustrious member is legendary distance runner Mo Farah. With a personal best 5000m time of 13:17.77 he realized his limitations on the track. These days he spends most of his time in Ethiopia’s high altitude, training with a marathon group.

“I was born in Djibouti City (the capital). I left Djibouti in 2003 and went to London,” Gala says. “In the past I trained with Mo Farah but not since he moved to the US. I live in Addis most of the time. I would say between nine and ten months of the year. My coach is Haji Adilo and he coaches a lot of elite athletes such as Tadese Tola and Lelisa Desisa.”

Adilo’s group can number around 100 men and women on any given day and Tola and Desisa are two exceptionally competent ‘training partners’. Tola claimed the marathon bronze medal at the 2013 IAAF World Championships while Desisa has twice won Boston.

Though he may appear to be a wandering soul, piling on the air miles as he goes back and forth between Djibouti and Ethiopia with occasional trips to England for good measure, Gala calls Djibouti “home sweet home.”

“I have a family in Djibouti and two beautiful girls ages one and four. I try to visit them as often as possible,” he declares. “I spend time with my kids at home. If I go to London I visit my brother and the rest of the time is training and going to the gym.”

Mumin is tremendously optimistic about his prospects at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and has good reason to be. That rain soaked 12th place finish at the Rio Olympics, was his first serious attempt at the distance. He had run Hamburg in April 2016, just to get a qualifying mark.  Earlier this year he improved his personal best half marathon time, finishing 3rd in the Rabat International Half Marathon in 1:02:41 and hasn’t come close to tapping his marathon potential.

“My goal is to run under 2:10,” he declares. “I am looking forward to a great race.”

And a great race is what he will surely find when the starter’s pistol fires. As the first runner from Djibouti to race Toronto he faces the formidable Kenyans Dickson Chumba (a past Tokyo and Chicago winner) and the defending Toronto champion, Philemon Rono. Ethiopia will counter with Endeshaw Negesse, the 2015 Tokyo Marathon champion (personal best of 2:04:52) and Solomon Deksisa, who ran 2:06:22 at the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon.

Clearly the stage is set for a memorable race in Toronto. Weather permitting, the course record (2:07:05) and Canadian All Comer’s records (2:06:54) are legitimate targets, but more than anything Gala wants to restore Djibouti’s name to the top of marathoning.

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For more information and to join Mumin at this year’s race: http://STWM.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

An Inspired Leslie Sexton to Race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

By | Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | No Comments

By Paul Gains

Inspiration can be derived from a variety of sources when it comes to marathon running. In the case of Leslie Sexton, a self -admitted Star Wars geek, the strength exuded by a fictional character has raised her spirits.

Two years ago, Sexton knocked close to six minutes off her then personal best with a 2:33:23 clocking at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Now the thirty-year old London, Ontario resident has her sights set on improving on that time at the 2017 edition of this IAAF Gold Label race.

Of her fascination with Star Wars she speaks unabashedly.

“I really like the character of Rey in ‘The Force Awakens’ because she has got this real strength and independence,” Sexton reveals. “I sort of like to think of that sometimes when I am out doing lots of miles on my own. I have a lot of fictional characters I like to think about. There are runners I look up to but I will think about Star Wars or something cool that Wonder Woman would do.”

That’s not to say Sexton doesn’t have some more earthly heroes. Watching Emma Coburn of the US strike 3,000m steeplechase gold in the recent World Championships, an enormous upset in sporting terms, stirred her soul, she admits. And there are others.

“A sort of hero for me over time has been (American marathoner) Desiree Linden because she was someone who had some talent but wasn’t a top high school or collegiate runner and has stuck with the same coach over time and had great results,” she explains. “I see her as a grinder. She does the work; she doesn’t complain and has been consistent year after year. I think she is really my inspiration for sure.”

Overcoming odds seems to be a theme that captivates Sexton. After turning her ankle while trail running at the end of last year she has been focusing on returning to form.

“I was off for four months and didn’t start running until the start of April this year,” she reveals. “In terms of racing in the summer, part of it was just spending time getting fit again. The first one back was the Toronto Waterfront 10k in mid-June. That went fairly well. Then I did a couple of track races that weren’t as fast as I wanted. The main thing of that summer block was getting fit again and getting back to interval training and a bit of racing.”

Now her confidence is soaring after running between 200 and 210 kilometres in each of the past four weeks. That includes some interval training. When she is not out with her London Runners’ training mates, she works part time at a local running store. She also coaches some club members. Under coach Steve Weiler’s watchful eye, her own fitness continues to grow, which has her eagerly anticipating Toronto Waterfront.

“I feel like every workout I am showing improvement,” Sexton maintains. “The times are coming down and I am getting fitter. I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be going for a personal best in Toronto if things keep going well.”

Sexton understands she is amongst a fine group of Canadian women who are stepping on the heels of Olympians Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene. Going toe to toe with them in Toronto is all the more appealing especially since the race is a Canadian Championships.

“I love that the Canadian Championships are in Toronto,” she declares. “It’s a race I would do anyway whether it was here or not. But having that Canadian Championships and having a lot of good Canadians on the line makes it all the more special. It makes it a good competitive race. So, I want to be very much about running even and running a fast as possible time and hopefully the place will take care of itself.

“Right now it’s just about taking small steps. If it is only 30 seconds or a minute at a time I am knocking off I am still happy with that, because I am moving forward.  And, even this year, coming back from an injury and having a rough year last year (in terms of race results), it has taken the pressure off me to run like a 2:31 or 2:32. I am still chasing fast times but to me it would be good just to get back in that range.”

England Athletics are sending Tish Jones (2:33:56 in London this year and winner of last Fall’s Cape Town Marathon) and Anna Boniface (2:37:07 this year in London) to Toronto and no doubt Sexton will find herself in close proximity to them during the race.

Among the Canadians she will face is the aforementioned Olympian Krista DuChene who ran 2:28:32 on this course four years ago, and Natasha LaBeaud. The latter has a personal best of 2:35:33 recorded in Toronto in 2014. In addition, a trio of relative newcomers to the distance will battle for Canadian medals and prize money.

They are Montreal’s Melanie Myrand, third in the 2017 Canadian Half Marathon Championships; Arianne Raby, also from Montreal, won the Montreal Marathon last Fall then took 7 minutes off her PB in Ottawa this Spring where she ran 2:41:58; and Lyndsay Tessier, winner of the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon in June.

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For more information and to enter this year’s race:  www.stwm.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca