The 45th edition of Toronto’s oldest race promises maple syrup, bagpipes, and a great women’s elite race with track specialists, road warriors, and Sasha Gollish, who is a bit of both
TORONTO, April 7, 2022 — Since the last time she raced in the Under Armour Spring Run-Off in 2014 and finished third, Sasha Gollish has excelled in disciplines far shorter and longer than eight kilometres.
As recently as February of this year, the Toronto-based athlete ran 1:14:11 at the First Half half marathon in Vancouver, before shifting gears and setting a world record in the women’s 40+ indoor mile in 4:38.73 two weeks later. She attributes part of her strong start to the year to a newfound love for Nordic skiing, which she does on the trails near her cottage in the Wasaga region, 90 minutes north of Toronto.
“I’m desperately holding on to winter,” said Gollish. “I love skiing; it’s fun and it made me stronger physically. My best seasons as an elite have been when I was doing different things to supplement my running and playing to other strengths.”
The professional engineer surprised even herself by racing so well this early in the year – she broke the world record before even making any spring racing plans.
“A part of me was shocked,” said Gollish. “I’m definitely in better shape than I thought – that mile was like doing a workout with friends.”
But racing still feels unfamiliar to her, following two years of sporadic lockdowns. Gollish said her objective for this year’s Spring Run-Off is simply to get into the groove of competing again.
“I’m emerging to top form, but I’m not there yet. My goal is to nail the preparation and properly getting to the start line. That means showing up prepared to compete without pressure for place, time or outcome…reintegrating racing into our new normal.”
Gollish will contend for the title with a handful of women, who will include current Canadian National 10K Champion Leslie Sexton. The Markham native and Vancouver resident is coming off her best year of training and racing, in which she won the 2021 Athletics Canada 10K Championship on Toronto’s waterfront in 32:04, and later became the sixth fastest female marathoner in Canadian history by running 2:28.35 at the Philadelphia Marathon.
Toronto-born rising star, Alexandra Lucki, will also challenge for the win, despite being just two weeks removed from representing Canada at the Pan-American Cross-Country Cup, where she finished seventh in the open women’s race. Lucki, a University of Maryland and NCAA alumna with a 4:34 mile and 9:01 3,000m, showed promise on the roads last fall by finishing fourth at the Canadian 10K Championship in 33:58. Cleo Boyd of Kingston, meanwhile, will come to the start line just months removed from personal bests of 15:57 and 33:02 in the 5,000m and 10,000m.
The rest of the women’s elite field combines youth and experience. Recent U SPORTS All-Canadians and now post-collegiate athletes Jenn Dowling-Medley of Montreal and Kristina Popadich of Toronto will both make their Spring Run-Off debut. Dowling-Medley was tenth at the Canadian cross-country championship last fall, while Popadich finished 26th.
Laura Desjardins, meanwhile, will try to reclaim the podium after finishing second at the Spring Run-Off’s 2018 edition. The Toronto-based athlete ran the Houston Half Marathon in 1:15:45 earlier this year, and was just two places and 11 seconds behind Lucki at last year’s Canadian 10K Championship.
Brittany Moran, also of Toronto, returns to High Park’s elite start line for the first time since 2015. The chiropractor should challenge for the medals, too, after posting a massive personal best of 2:33:37 in the marathon last fall, and then a third-place finish at the Around the Bay Road Race two weeks ago.
Canada Running Series Race Director, Alan Brookes, said the race is Sexton’s to lose, but that predicting the rest of the finishing order feels like an impossible task.
“One of the most intriguing things about the COVID-19 interlude is that we don’t know how it’s affected different athletes,” he said. “Who’s fit? Who was too unmotivated to train with no in-person races? We’ll find out on April 9th.”
Brookes said he is thrilled that Toronto’s oldest ongoing race is back this year, with its iconic Canadian traditions: piper Dave MacGonigal leading everyone to the start lines; fresh maple syrup awards from Madawaska Maple Products; the King and Queen of The Hill competition; the Kardia Athletica crew cheer zone on Spring Road Hill and Rogue Runners on Centre Road. Participants will also be raising $60,000 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and are invited to reward themselves at the post-race pancake breakfast in support of the High Park Nature Centre.
Information on the elite race and complete Women’s Start List can be found here: https://canadarunningseries.com/spring-run-off/elites-and-prizing/
About The Under Armour Spring Run-Off
Date: Saturday April 9, 2022
8K Start Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: High Park, Toronto
For media access on race day, please contact Sam O’Neill, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Gold 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/