Photo: Todd Fraser/Canada Running Series.
By Paul Gains
Canada Running Series today announced the addition of two key Canadians for the 2018 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Why this is a big signing:
– Sexton was the fastest Canadian women’s marathoner in 2017.
– She’s the reigning Canadian Marathon champion.
Leslie Sexton returns to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in defence of her Canadian Marathon Championships title. The IAAF Gold Label race on Oct. 21 serves as Athletics Canada’s national championship for the fourth consecutive year.
Improving her lifetime best – 2:33:23 – and getting on the Canadian podium, with a top prize of $5,000, are her primary objectives. Sexton finished fifth overall, in 2:35:47, at the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
“It’s definitely important,” she says of the Canadian title. “I guess I wouldn’t say it’s the ultimate focus. I want to go in just chasing a personal best and trying to run the best time I am capable of.”
Known for high mileage during her buildup, typically more than 200K per week, three years ago she ran her personal best of 2:33:23 on the Toronto waterfront. Ultimately, she wants to join Lanni Marchant (Canadian record holder at 2:28:00), Krista DuChene, Silvia Ruegger, Jaqueline Gareau and Lioudmila Kortchaguina as the Canadians who have run faster than 2:30.
“(The 2:30 barrier) is definitely a goal over the long term,” Sexton, a native of London, Ont. reveals. “I want to chase a time that reflects my recent training. I think it would be nice to be a sub-2:30 marathoner; it’s something I want to do over the next three or four years.
“Certainly next year when Olympic qualifying starts I want to get myself into the low 2:30s or sub-2:30 shape twice in a year and line up and do the best I can in marathons.”
Standing between Sexton and her title defence is 41-year-old Krista DuChene who stunned the running world with her third place finish at the Boston Marathon in April. “It’s definitely a great thing for Canadian women in the sport to have it more and more competitive,” the 2016 Canadian Olympian says.
Why this is a big signing:
– Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Middleton’s first marathon.
– She’s ranked fourth in Canada in the half-marathon, and third-ranked in the 10,000m, both in 2018.
– She’s an underdog for the Canadian title.
While Sexton and DuChene are experienced marathoners, a great deal of interest will be turned towards lesser-known Kinsey Middleton, who represented Canada at the 2018 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Spain in March. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be the 25-year-old’s 42.2K debut.
After graduating from the University of Idaho she moved east to Michigan where she joined the Brooks Hanson Project before moving back to Idaho – Coeur d’Alene is her hometown – to train. Middleton’s mother is Canadian, and she and her brother are dual citizens.
Middleton enjoyed success at shorter distances including a PB of 32:33.8 over 10,000m, recorded at the 2018 Portland Track Classic. Over 21.1K, Middleton ran 1:12:30 – which ranks her fourth among Canadians in 2018 – at the Houston Half-Marathon in January, which resulted in an invitation to run for Canada at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships. The marathon, she understands, is a different challenge entirely.
“I am trying not to put too much pressure on the very first one. I want to have a really good experience because it is so unknown,” she says. “I would love to run faster than 2:37 and the 2019 IAAF World Championships standard. Aside from that, it’s just how I feel on that day because it’s such a new event.
“From the 10K to the half-marathon, races are more comfortable as they get longer,” she adds. “That makes me think that the marathon is a step in the right direction. But there is such a question mark because I have never done one before.”
Middleton chose the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon because it fits into her plans for a fall marathon. She was also encouraged by Canadian 10,000m record holder, Natasha Wodak.
“I heard from Natasha that they (race organizers Canada Running Series) really cater to Canadians and that it’s an awesome event,” she explains.
With this trio of talented Canadian women – DuChene, Middleton and Sexton – already confirmed, this year’s Canadian Championship promises to be a classic. Stay tuned each Wednesday for elite athlete announcements ahead of Oct. 21. (Last week’s was Jake Robertson.)