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Beloved Canadian Olympic Coach Hugh Cameron Has Passed

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By Paul Gains

One of Canada’s most successful distance running coaches Hugh Cameron passed away October 20th at the Amica Little Lake Retirement Home in Barrie, Ontario. He was 80.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years Nancy, three sons Mark, Rob and Paul and five grandchildren.

As the founder of both the Etobicoke Huskies and Newmarket Huskies track clubs, he was responsible for the development of literally hundreds of Canada’s most celebrated club runners, several of whom went on to represent this country at major international games. 

David Edge earned the silver medal for Canada at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh running a personal best of 2:11:08. He struggles to find adequate words to describe the relationship he had with Cameron. 

“I came from England and when you were in a race you were in a race not to hold hands but to win,” says Edge who also finished 6th at the 1983 Boston Marathon.  “That didn’t go over too well in Toronto. I wasn’t the most liked athlete but Hugh dealt with it. He guided me. In simpler terms, I owe so much to Hugh Cameron.”

Edge also represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles along with another of Cameron’s charges, Sylvia Ruegger, who finished 8th in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon. That is still the best performance by a Canadian woman in the Olympic marathon. 

Prior to their departure for Los Angeles, Cameron, who was also the Olympic marathon coach for those Games, hand-delivered fliers to all the residents along the club’s favourite training circuit in Etobicoke inviting them to view their final training session. Onlookers turned out to wish the pair well.

It was a typical gesture by Cameron who never took a penny for coaching. And he never appeared to favour one athlete’s performance over another. Ruegger went on to set a national marathon record of 2:28:36 which stood for 28 years.

Although Ruegger and Edge were internationally associated with Cameron, his first successful marathoner was Mike Dyon who, in his debut at the 1977 National Capital Marathon in Ottawa, emerged victorious with a time of 2:18:05.

“I was really the guinea pig because we did a 28 mile run three weeks before Ottawa on hills along Weston road,” Dyon remembers. “We didn’t know any better. He said ‘let’s just practice.’ I think we ran 2:34 or so for the marathon and he said ‘you are ready’.

Dyon eventually won Ottawa three times, lowered his personal best to 2:14:28 and would finish 9th in the 1982 Commonwealth Games for Canada. As Cameron’s health deteriorated Dyon’s commitment to his friend and mentor never wavered. He would bring books for Cameron’s wife Nancy to read to her husband. 

Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Cameron worked for Kodak for 32 years mostly as Director of Human Resources. He helped Dyon obtain a summer job there. Moreover, the athletes were recipients of his extraordinary interpersonal skills.

Alison Wiley, who in 1983 earned the silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships and followed that up with an NCAA 3,000m title for Stanford University, sought Cameron upon her return to Toronto following graduation. She turned out to every club practice while working as a brand manager for Cadbury’s. Cameron’s support during this transitional period was strong.

‘I think he also probably sensed I was doing well in my career and moving up and he really fostered that,” Wiley reveals. “He knew me. He was helping me to be the best person I could be recognizing you were not always going to run at this intense level. 

“It was an interesting phase of my life and he was right there helping to shape it. I had an amazing father – and my mum and dad were great – they provided a loving home, a supportive home but I never had those conversations with my dad. They were with Hugh Cameron. Because he could relate the athlete to the business woman outside the track.”

Wiley became emotional remembering Cameron’s kindness to her and her family when her brother, also named Hugh, suffered an accident which left him paraplegic. 

“Hugh knew my brother but he never coached him,” she recalls, “ he would send him emails or call him. He would include him. Who does that? Once again such a deep thoughtful caring individual . My brothers pain was his pain, was my pain. He reached out to people and that is really a beautiful trait.”

Among the athletes closest to Cameron was Dave Reid who remembers taking public transit to an Etobicoke Huskies workout one September night in 1975. Being a shy 12 year old, he watched the group from a distance then got on the bus and went home. After his father asked if he was going back for the next session he reluctantly agreed. From there the pair would forge an incredible relationship strengthened further when the Cameron family moved into the same neighbourhood. 

Reid would go on to set a Canadian interscholastic 1,500m record of 3:45.78  when he was in high school. Under Cameron’s tutelage he continued to improve representing Canada at three world cross country championships as well as the 1983 world athletics championships in Helsinki. In 1987, Reid set a Canadian senior 1,500m record of 3:37.84.

“He was coach of the Canadian team for the 1982 world cross country championships in Rome when I was a junior,” Reid recounts. “He had gone to every single athlete’s family and asked them to write letters to the athletes so they could open them up every day when they were in Rome. It was so they would feel comfortable and relaxed. Who does that?”

Reid would spend lots of time with Cameron’s family because of their close proximity. And when Reid hung up his racing shoes he got his start in coaching alongside Cameron. 

Coaching came naturally to Hugh Cameron according to his wife, Nancy, who said that besides coaching at Lakehead University in his 20’s, the seeds for a coaching career were sown much earlier. There was an oval in front of his house and he would organize races for kids.

“Hugh didn’t talk about his job at home,” she explains. “Sometimes I wish he had so I could share more in that. But I think he felt he wanted to maintain space between his job, his coaching and family.”

With a laugh she adds, ”I used to tease him that if I wasn’t also a runner he would be divorced.” 

Nancy is organizing a celebration of life at Northwest Barrie United Church November 18th. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimers Society or organization close to your heart in Hugh’s honour.


Woodfine and Mawhinney Victorious at Under Armour Toronto 10K by Paul Gains  

By | Toronto Waterfront 10K | No Comments

TORONTO (June 17, 2023) — Tristan Woodfine and Erin Mawhinney put on convincing displays of front running today as they won the Under Armour Toronto 10K in warm and breezy conditions.  

Woodfine, the resident of Eganville, Ontario recorded an outstanding time of 29:12 – just six seconds off his personal best – to easily capture this Canada Running Series race that also doubled as part of the prestigious, new Athletics Canada Road Race Series. His nearest competitor was Dylan Alick who finished in 29:49 – the first time he has dipped under 30 minutes for the distance.  

Woodfine, who achieved the 2020 Olympic marathon standard only to be bumped from a potential position on the Canadian team, was delighted with the result.  

I am really pleased to be solo and do a good hard effort, and, to come away with 29:12 is a great place to be,he said while being monitored by a doping control officer. We are on the right track for sure for a good marathon race this fall.”  

It was an early birthday present for the graduate of the Ontario College of Health and Technology. He turns 30 tomorrow. His performance went more or less as planned.  

About 2K there was one guy behind me and then I kind of made a bit of a surge going downhill and it was solo from there,he revealed adding the wind was a factor.  

It was a headwind on the way out for 3.6K then we turned around and it was all tail wind until about 9K then you turn around. So, it was basically get to 3.5K and you will get a nice boost on the wayand try and hammer that section with the tail wind. After that you can just suffer to the finish line. I couldnt see anyone or hear anyone, so I kept my foot on the gas and kept going.”  

He passed 5K in 14:35 about 18 seconds ahead of Alick, and the eventual 3rd place finisher, Rob Kanko (30:02), and added to that gap throughout the remainder of the race.  

Alick was equally pleased with his new personal best, especially since he has been dividing his time between training and academic work. He will graduate from McMaster University in August with a Master’s in Engineering.  

Most of the guys on our team are in engineering. Time management is important,he said laughing.  

I was happy as my goal today was to go sub 30 and this was my first time breaking it, so I am happy. I raced (Woodfine) at the Canadian Championship in Ottawa and he is a very accomplished runner. I tried to stick with him as long as possible, but he made a good move at 3K.”  

Woodfine turned to two-time Canadian Olympian Reid Coolsaet for coaching help almost a year ago and among the other members of ‘Coolsaet Go’ team competing here today was Erin Mawhinney of Hamilton who scored herself both a victory and a new personal best of 33:34 for the 10K. She also ran from the front.  

I got out into the lead early and hoped I could hang on to it,she said through an enormous smile. There was a bunch of really fast girls and so I sort of peeked at the turnarounds to see how far ahead I was. Salome and Rachel were behind, and I tried to hold them off.”  

That was sort of my plan. I run a little bit better from the front and just try to hang on. This was only my second ever 10K. My first was the national championships two weeks ago in Ottawa which was disgustingly hot. So, this was a PB by a full minute.”  

Salome Nyirarukundo, who represented Rwanda at the 2016 Olympic Games before coming to Canada held off Rachel Hannah to take 2nd in 34:58 – eleven seconds ahead of the 2015 Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist. This was her first race in several years.  

I am a resident of Ottawa. I was in Montreal in 2018 I won the marathon there in 2:28:02, which was my first marathon, and I ran the Ottawa marathon 2019,she revealed. Since then, I havent been running again. I am so happy for this race.”  

Honestly my expectation was to be in the top five but not top 3. For four years I have not run consistently. I started again this year. I am happy and I am very thankful for this organization to bring me back again for my first race.”  

The winners both complimented their coach, Reid Coosaet, who was all smiles after learning the results of his athletes.  

Amazing! And they ran fast too,he said while recovering himself from the efforts of his first road race in some time. A bunch of my athletes were really close to their PBs which was unexpected because it was a bit warm.”  

Asked how close he was to his PB he laughed: Four minutes!Coolsaet who has turned to trail running since retiring from the marathon finished second in the masters category in a time of 32:18. He has his sightsset on the Pikes Peak Ascent race in September.  

More than 6,000 runners turned out for the Under Armour Toronto 10K and enjoyed the camaraderie of one another. The out and back course which traverses the waterfront of Lake Ontario was a popular one with most.  

Sasha Gollish and Jeremy Coughler take the Titles at Spring Run-Off  

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Celebrating its 46th edition, the Spring Run-Off has raised $28,500 for Parkdale Community Foodbank  

TORONTO, April 1, 2023 — A sold-out crowd of 3,500 celebrated Opening Day for running in Toronto at the 46th annual Spring Run Off this morning in High Park, the first event of Canada Running Series 2023. Participants were drawn from every Canadian province and 14 American states. Sunny skies and 12c degree temperatures created ideal conditions for challenging the famous hills of the city’s most scenic park.  

Defending men’s champion, Jeremy Coughler of London, ON, put in a surge after the first climb up Centre Road at 3km, then cruised to victory ahead of Rob Kanko  (24:19) of Dundas and Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Alex Neuffer  (24:31). Coughler’s time was a scant four seconds slower than his 2022 victory lap. Sasha Gollish (26:58) showed her strength in the women’s race with a convincing triumph, 22 seconds ahead of Team Canada teammate Erin Teschuk (27:20), showing us why she will be representing Canada at the World Mountain & Trail Championships in Innsbruck-Stubia in June. Laura Desjardins was a distant third (28:10).  

But there were so many more winners on a memorable morning. To continue the tradition since its inception in 1978, Piper Dave MacGonigal led racers to the start lines of the 8K, 5K and Kids Run. Ubuntu Community served up a delicious pancake breakfast with proceeds going to both them and the High Park Nature Centre. Madawaska Maple Products and Marquest Sunglasses handed out further prizes and the primary charity of the day – the Parkdale Community Foodbank — took home $28,500 to help them feed 6,000 needy families in the Downtown and West End every month. Fundraising is still open until April 30th, with the final total expected to go well beyond $30,000.  Additionally, this year’s race supported Trans Canada Trail ($440), Trees for Life ($970) and Canada Running Series Foundation ($2870), bringing the 2023 fundraising grand total to $33,870 already. 

Back for a 7th year, the popular Kill The Hill challenge up the infamous 600m incline on Spring Road to the Finish Line had a new twist with winners being crowned “Heroes of The Hill” in the men’s, women’s and non-binary categories. After racing up the gut-busting, timed, final 365m, Jessey The Elf claimed first in the men’s 8K conquering the hill in 1 minute 12 seconds, with Katie Anderson crowned Women’s Superhero in 1:32. Tanya Hauck placed first in the non-binary race with a time of 2:12. In the 5K, Toronto’s Brittany Moran was first woman in 1:33, with Brett McGonigal finishing first for the men in 1:13, and Noah Simpson-Freeman taking the non-binary category with a time of 2:00.  

Collectively, the running community gathered together to line the hills of High Park and cheer on the participants. The boundless energy of Kardia Athletica, High Park Rogue Runners, Frontrunners, Pride Run, Parkdale Roadrunners, Parkdale Food Bank and RunTOBeer pushed participants through to the finish line all morning to celebrate a resounding success. 

Top Women: 

  1. Sasha Gollish – 26:58  
  2. Erin Teschuk – 27:20  
  3. Laura Desjardins – 28:10  
  4. Courtney Brohart – 28:59  
  5. Becca Brennan – 29:18  

Top Men: 

  1. Jeremy Coughler – 23:51  
  2. Rob Kanko – 24:19  
  3. Alex Neuffer – 24:31  
  4. Ian Guiden – 24:38  
  5. Kyle Grieve – 24:46  

For listing of all Overall and Age Category winners in both 8K & 5K click here. For complete, individual, searchable results click here.

Alan’s 2022 Year End Recap

By | Alan's Journal | No Comments


We cannot say it enough. 

2022. What a year it’s been. A true marathon as we raced our way back to in-person events TOGETHER. Let’s be honest, at times it’s been a challenge, but it’s one we’ve met full on thanks to your resilience, passion, energy, and determination. You showed up this year and made it wonderfully successful in so many ways. Almost 50,000 of you showed up across our 10 events, most in-person with some virtual to keep us connected when we couldn’t get to the races. The energy has been electric and everyone at Canada Running Series is enormously grateful.

This year feels like it has been a wonderful combination of old and new. We’ve revelled in the moments together on the familiar hills of High Park, dashing down Vancouver’s Spanish Banks, revving our engines on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal and cruising the Toronto Waterfront. The old stomping grounds… TOGETHER AGAIN. The magic of those Starting lines, and the joy  mixed with exhilaration of crossing Finish lines. With friends, rivals, suppliers, our absolutely amazing volunteers and our 18 CRS team members. Thank you to our sponsor partners who kept us whole during the darkest days of the pandemic so we’d reach a bright new tomorrow.  

And in many ways, YOU, our community, have given us a re-energized, new beginning this year. Together we’ve made a renewed commitment to “building community through running”, our mission since the 1980s.   

With remarkable numbers you showed you cared for those in need. Through our Charity Challenges you contributed a magnificent $4,206,215. New partners in TCS, Asics, Garmin and Athletic Brewing joined old friends like Oasis, Running Room, Under Armour, and Nuun as we surged back on familiar roads and new directions. 

At every turn we embraced diversity and inclusion to build out the community:  

  • with the new Scarborough 5K built locally through the awesome leadership of Melanie @little3women,  Anoke @ahh.noke and Black Runners of the GTA. It was a race on home turf that also gave back to the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough & Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.;  
  • by partnering with the Running Physio and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to help us better understand and champion Accessibility in not only this race, but all our races. 
  • In addition to continuing our work with Native Women Running, we collaborated with Rising Hearts and embraced the Running On Native Lands Initiative, to make land acknowledgements a common practice at CRS events, to further our respect and understanding in a united community. 

A determined commitment to sustainability emerged throughout the year, but especially with our new partner TCS who even developed a “sustainability footprint calculator” in the world-class race app for the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon. You pledged more than 700 trees to be planted along the marathon route by new charity partner Trees For Life, and supported the Trans Canada Trail. Your Finishers’ medals included the oak tree adopted as Toronto’s Official Tree in May and together we made it a priority to become the first marathon in Canada to achieve Evergreen status with the Council For Responsible Sport (still pending). 

2022 saw us put on our first-ever international race as we embraced a commitment to build community globally. The Rumbo a TCS Toronto Waterfront 10k en la CDMX, is a collaboration in México City with the amazing team at Emoción Deportiva, supported by Ambassador Graeme Clark and the Canadian Embassy in México, plus Alma Leal and TCS Latin America.  

From the titanic achievements at National Championships, to the heroics of everyday heroes and leaders you have given us SOOOOO MUCH to celebrate. Most of all we have been struck by the energy, passion and excitement you shared with us in 2022. This was no more evident than in our CRS Ambassador Program, the Building on Belief video features produced for us by Tenfold Productions and Quinton Jacobs, plus the return of BTGYYZ (Bridge The Gap) hosted by Mike Krupika and Parkdale Road Runners who brought some 400 runners from 40 crews in 8 countries to TCS Toronto Waterfront. This year’s Canadian-race-record 22 Cheer Sites on the course personified COMMUNITY.

All of this underscored the fact that we can’t build community through running on our own. You are the stars, the talent, the SHOW. AND WE ARE BACK. It took 50,000 of us TOGETHER to make it happen.   

You’ve left us breathless! But now it’s time to pause, catch our breath, rest and recover. 2023 is just over that next hill, brimming with challenges and accomplishments. But for this moment we pause to say THANK YOU. Together you make our community, our country our world a better place. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!