by Paul Gains
Among the 6,500 runners expected for the 2023 Under Armour Toronto 10K (June 17th) – the third stop on the 2023 Canada Running Series – Tristan Woodfine is the favourite. It’s a situation with which he appears entirely comfortable.
Considering the ups and downs he has faced the past two years, clearly he is back in the form which saw him beat the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifying standard in the 2021 London Marathon (2:10:51) only to be bumped from a potential Canadian team spot at the eleventh hour when Cam Levins ran 37 seconds faster.
Last fall the 29-year old – he turns 30 the day after the Toronto race – set a personal best at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon with his 62:42 clocking and more recently a personal best in the Valencia 10km (29:06). In the latter race he felt prepared to go much faster.
“There was a huge pileup and a bunch of people went down,” he recalls. “Luckily, I didn’t go down but I got caught up with people having gone down. The first few hundred meters was a complete crap show.
“There was a big group of guys running under 29-minute pace. I was about 10 seconds back at the first kilometre and missed running with the group. It would have been perfect to be in that group. Nevertheless, it was still a PB and you can never be upset about that.”
Now he looks forward to a fast time in Toronto. Although he denies lingering emotional effects from the Olympic campaign – an appeal was denied by Athletics Canada – it must have been a catastrophic moment in his running career.
“It was very disappointing at the time,” says Woodfine. “It’s tough when it’s not as simple as in the US where the top three (from the trials) go. The subjective criteria make it tougher to handle because it’s not cut and dried. I got over it and used it as motivation to train hard. The last couple of years I have just been plagued by little problems physically. Emotionally things have been great.”
After completing his paramedic studies at the Ontario Health and Technology College he put his selected vocation on hold recognizing that the energy level required for long shifts as a paramedic was not conducive to his running career. Now he is earning money with an online coaching program. At present he has about a dozen clients.
“That has taken off the past couple of years. It’s nice,” he reveals. “You are helping people achieve their goals in running. It’s a nice complement to the training you need to do for a marathon.”
Woodfine credits two-time Canadian Olympic marathoner, Reid Coolsaet, with his improvements the past year. The pair had occasionally trained together in Guelph when Coolsaet was with Speed River Track Club.
“Yes we have been working together almost a year now. It has been great. He has so much knowledge and experience in the sport which is really helpful when you are trying to navigate qualifying for the Olympics,” Woodfine explains. “He’s been there and done that. I have had a half marathon PB and a 10k PB since working with him.”
As it happens Coolsaet will also be running the Under Armour Toronto 10K along with ten of his running clients including Woodfine.
Although he is focused on trail running and not the roads where he had so much success the now 43-year-old Hamilton resident has a booming coaching business which he calls ‘Coolsaet Go’ a play on the ‘ready, set, go’ mantra. Asked his expectations this Saturday he laughs.
“Probably the least expectation I have had of a race for years just because I haven’t done any workouts on the roads,” he replies laughing.
“All my efforts have been on the trails. And, I am just coming back from an injury and getting ready for upcoming trail races. I don’t really have a clue. I have been feeling pretty good the last few weeks – I would like to break 33 minutes.”
Coolsaet’s uncertainty sets up a potential challenge with 2015 Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist, Rachel Hannah, who is keen to put behind her the disappointment of the recent national 10k championships in Ottawa. There she was clipped from behind and fell heavily to the pavement. That cost her almost a full week’s training.
“Potentially, I think a really good day would be 33 something,” Hannah says of her target. “That would be my ‘A’ goal. It would be awesome to run under 34.
“I am focusing more on the 10k distance because it does help my fall marathon. I will start another marathon build in July.”
Hannah, who set a new Glass City Marathon (Toledo) course record in April laughs at Coolsaet’s assertion he hopes to break 33 minutes. “Maybe Reid is underselling himself. I imagine he will run faster than that,” she says laughing.
In addition to her work as a dietician at the University of Guelph’s Health and Performance Centre – she commutes from her home in Port Elgin, Ontario once or twice a week preferring to work remotely – Hannah has been working at the McMaster University’s David Bradley Centre also.
Along with 5 Canadian titles to her credit at distances from 5k to the marathon Hannah, who recently became engaged, can point to a personal best 10k of 33:08 and 32:36.17 on the track.
This is the first year of Under Armour’s title partnership, following title partnerships of the Eastside 10K in Vancouver (2017 – present) and the Spring Run-Off in Toronto (2020 – 2022). The fast course along Toronto’s scenic waterfront is sure to provide the field with a fine opportunity for quick times.
For the complete start list, click here.
About Canada Running Series
Canada Running Series is the nation’s premier running circuit with seven events: four in Toronto, two in Vancouver and one in Montreal. It annually attracts over 70,000 participants and raises more than $6 million for some 320 mostly local charities. The Series includes the World Athletics Elite Label TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships. Since 1999, CRS has gained international recognition for innovation and organization.
We are passionately committed to staging great experiences for runners of all levels, from Canadian Olympians and international stars to healthy lifestyle people and charity runners, and to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process. Our mission is “building community through the sport of running.” More info: https://canadarunningseries.com/
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