JP Flavin and Erin Mawhinney Victorious at 2024 Under Armour Toronto 10K

By June 15, 2024Uncategorised

By Paul Gains

JP Flavin rang up Under Armour Toronto 10K organizers last week and asked if there was a place in the event for him. His eleventh-hour plea came just before the race limit of 7,500 was reached. Lucky for him.

The 25 year old New Jersey native showed his gratitude by front running his way to a victory in 29:20 and in the process pulling top Canadian Andrew Davies to a new personal best of 29:25. Third place overall went to Lee Wesselius in 29:49 and the third Canadian was Rob Kanko in 30 minutes flat.

“I am very thankful they let me in the race,” said Flavin, a member of the Brooks Hanson Project based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “I did really well. I kept 4:40 miles throughout, which was my plan. It was fun.”

Midway through the race – the lead pack of seven runners reached 5K in 14:32 – he went to the front with the objective of breaking pre-race favourite Andrew Davies.

The Sarnia native has been training in Vancouver, where he is a law student at the University of British Columbia. Earlier this year, he ran a personal best 10,000m on the track (28:34.63) and also finished 2nd in the NAIA (collegiate) national championships in that event, which caught the attention of his peers.

“I knew if I stayed with Andrew to the last two kilometres, odds are he would outkick me,” Flavin added. “So a little before 5K, I started picking it up. I wanted to use that long hill [at the Canadian Legion] to come hard off it.”

“When I made my move and started feeling bad at mile five, I could hear from the crowd; they were screaming his name a little bit. So I knew I had to pay attention, stay on it, and not let up too much. I was able to grind and finish off strong.”

Davies was satisfied with his personal best. When Flavin made his move, he made an effort to maintain contact but could never close the gap.

“I was trying to cover it as best I could without risking blowing up at the end,” he revealed. “I couldn’t quite cover it. I stayed pretty close. I couldn’t catch him over the last two kilometres. He held that gap the whole way.”

Despite his earlier 10,000m success in the spring, Davies admitted he has lately been focusing on the 5,000m, the event he will race at the Canadian Olympic trials June 26-30 in Montreal.

While the men’s race had its drama, the women’s race saw the same podium finishers as in 2023, although Erin Mawhinney’s title defence was emphatic. The 28-year-old Hamilton,

Ontario, nursing consultant won by 25 seconds over Salome Nyirarukundo.

Mahwinney’s 33:40 time was a pleasant surprise after she learned earlier in the year she was iron deficient.

“This was the first race since February that I haven’t felt dizzy, so this is the first one in a while that has felt like that,” says Mawhinney, who was greeted at the finish by her coach, two time Canadian Olympic marathoner, Reid Coolsaet.

Respect for her competitors was evident in her further comments.

“At no point was I confident of winning,” she declared. “Salome is so talented, and I knew there was a good chance she would come flying by but someone yelled at me with a kilometre to go that I had a good gap.

To run in the 33s, especially today, it’s hotter and windier than last year, to run the same time as last year off much less training is great.”

Mawhinney also credited Toronto running coach Paddy Birch for helping her through the windy stretches along Lake Shore Boulevard.

“I owe my life to Paddy Birch. He was sort of breaking some of the wind and pacing up to about 8K, so I didn’t have to think quite as hard about it,” she added. “He is much faster than me, but I think he was going for an easy run. He was (pacing me) on purpose when he was talking to me.”

Nyirarukundo, who competed for Rwanda at the 2016 Olympics, now lives in Ottawa. She complained about having an upset stomach last night and into the race morning.

“I was a little bit tired. This morning I had a problem with stomach. Even now, I have it,” she said with a smile, “so I was struggling even to finish, but because I am a fighter, I just tried to finish. It was not bad.”

“I appreciate the organisers; they are very, very good to the elites. It is really good and I enjoy the people (on the course) who are cheering.”

Rachel Hannah, now recovered from her 3rd place finish in the Ottawa Marathon, was 3rd in today’s race. Her time of 34:10, almost a minute faster than her 2023 finish, pleased her.

Once again, the Under Armour Toronto 10K served as the Canadian Masters’ championships, with Toronto’s Allison Drynan crossing the line first in the 45-49 age bracket, recording a time of 38:46. She finished just 8 seconds ahead of Miriam Zittel (40-44).

In the men’s master’s race, Bryan Rusche earned top honours with his 33:33 performance, and Brian Byrne of London, Ontario, finished next in 33:49.

Race director Alan Brookes was delighted with the sold-out event and pointed out that runners from nine provinces, two territories (the Yukon and the Northwest Territories), eighteen American states, and twenty countries enjoyed the day.