By Paul Gains
Hailstones and a strong wind plagued runners in the Hamburg Marathon this past April 23rd, yet a little known Canadian, making his debut at the distance no less, prevailed to finish under the 2017 IAAF World Championship qualifying standard by two seconds.
With his 2:18:58 Thomas Toth earned a place on the Canadian team bound for London this coming August.
The 25 year old from Lakefield, Ontario seemed destined to be just another Canadian runner lost in the US collegiate system after running for Cameron University in Oklahoma for four years. But he emerged last year to run an eye catching 64:26 at the Houston Half Marathon before going on to win the 2016 Canadian Half Marathon championship in Calgary.
Being named last week to the Canadian team ensures he will be someone to follow in coming years.
“Of course I feel very honoured,” he declared. “Coming into this year (the World Championships) was a goal of mine, especially in the fall. I didn’t expect to have the race that I did in Hamburg where a couple of things weren’t quite in my favour: the weather and nutrition mainly.
“To get 2:18:58 and only be under the standard by two seconds was extremely stressful. But to be named is just such a great honour. But the last five weeks I was very stressed-out waiting to see if anyone else would squeak under the standard because, if they made the standard, they would essentially knock me out. I am excited and I am honoured.”
Besides the impediment of poor weather conditions, Toth had to deal with a mix-up of bottles at some of the feeding stations. Early in the race he tried to go with some of the elites but wound up running alone for much of the race. No wonder he believes he can run much faster.
Toth has confirmed he will be running the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon this Sunday, June 25th. The race is the fourth in the 2017 Canada Running Series.
“It will be more or less a fitness test,” says Toth. “I have been in a hard training block and to get out there in Vancouver with some other great athletes to push me to sort of test the waters. It’s where I can get the wheels going and see where I am at because, at that point, I will have only a month left of training left for London. So it will be more of a test than anything.
“I have definitely improved a lot. There have been workouts where I think ‘I know I have run 64 and I can now get close to 63’ that is more or less where my mindset is. I do believe 64:26 is a very strong time but I would like to get under 64 in the right conditions.”
Two years ago, after graduating from Cameron University, he and his wife moved to Plaistow, New Hampshire where he trains alone. Without a shoe sponsor – he says he contacted most of the major companies but without success – he earns money through a personal training/coaching business.
His training programs are still written by Coach Zach Johnson of Cameron University. The pair communicate daily by email and by texting.
“I am still coached by Zach Johnson who recruited me out of high school and who has done just an incredible job keeping me healthy and progressing,” Toth reveals. “I don’t need much guidance in terms of having someone giving me splits or being down my throat. I have always been very motivated. I just put in the work and ask him for guidance.”
The event record of 63:10 for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon was set in 2007 by Patrick Nthwia of Kenya, and although there have been minor tweaks on the course it remains basically from the University of British Columbia to Stanley Park.
Toth will come up against defending champion Kip Kangogo a five-time winner (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016), who recently won the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary as well as 2014 champion Dylan Wykes. The latter has backed off somewhat on the training that saw him run the marathon in 2:10:47 and represent Canada at the 2012 Olympics. Nevertheless, he still finished 3rd in Calgary just thirty-two seconds behind Kangogo.
One surprise could very well be former 1,500m runner Geoff Martinson who recently ran a whopping 10000m personal best on the track – 28:48.33 in Portland. He was a surprising second at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships.
The women’s race features Dayna Pidhoresky who will join Toth in London for the World Championships following her stellar performance in Ottawa last month. Last year’s runner up Lyndsay Tessier is also entered.
For a complete Start List see: http://canadarunningseries.com/2017/06/scotiabank-vancouver-half-marathon-5k-elite-field/
For more information about the race: