Gillis and DuChene To Defend Canadian Half Marathon Titles in Montreal by Paul Gains

IJ_21kdeM13_2284Canadian championship medals, lucrative prize money and a chance to run on a fast course through scenic Parc Jean Drapeau have attracted some of the best road racers to Montreal for the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal this Sunday, April 27th.

The next stop on the 2014 Canada Running Series, this race doubles as the Athletics Canada National Half Marathon Championships and both male and female defending champions return. To top it off the race is completely sold out.

“Being the Canadian championship that gives it extra pizzazz to do it,” says 34 year old Eric Gillis, a two time Canadian Olympian who won this race in both 2013 and 2012. “Trying to get the win and winning three in a row would be pretty nice.

“It’s actually a flat course and it could be fairly fast. Both times I have run there it has been windy along the water. So if we get a nice calm day I think a lot of folks can surprise themselves on that course.”

The 34 year old from Antigonish, Nova Scotia has been a long time resident of Guelph, Ontario and is making the weekend a family affair taking the train trip with his wife and two young children. The race will also provide him with further indicators of his fitness. A week ago he won the prestigious Toronto Yonge Street 10k in 28:32.

“I think between the New York City Half Marathon, where I ran a personal best (1:03:30) and Yonge Street 10k this week, I have a pretty good indication of my fitness. My workouts, they have been going consistently, so mostly I am looking to use Montreal as a final preparation for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. I am confident in my fitness. A fast time (in Montreal) wouldn’t hurt.”

Krista w flag at BS21KdeMtl13 IMG-20130428-00381Meanwhile women’s champion Krista DuChene must battle back from a surprise loss at Toronto Yonge Street 10k where Toronto’s Rachel Hannah blew past her with five hundred metres remaining to steal victory in 32:33.

“I am thrilled for Rachel, I really am,” DuChene admitted after the race. “It’s a huge breakthrough in her running career. She has done the work and got herself up step by step. I am honoured that she beat me. I am not one to run a race and say ‘Oh I just wasn’t in it today.’ No, she flew past me and I had nothing to give.

“So because of that and even with Erin Burrett placing third I am never going to take my competition lightly not that I ever did, but I will have to have my ‘A’ game for Montreal. I am a bit more experienced, I suppose, at the longer distances. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Hannah, for her part, is approaching the race and a rematch with DuChene cautiously. Nevertheless she clearly has respect for the woman who represented Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships marathon.

“I definitely think she has a major advantage over me over double the distance,” says Hannah, a 27 year old dietitian and Georgia State graduate. “The half marathon and marathon are obviously her specialties. I think she has one up on me. She ran 1:12:28 there last year and I don’t expect to run that fast of a time next week but we will see how I am feeling. I will run a slower pace than her at least through half way and see how I feel.”

The step up in distance will be one of her toughest challenges. She was fifth in last year’s Montreal half marathon in 1:18:58 which she considers her debut at that distance.

“My number one goal is to break my time from last year,” she concedes. “l hope that things go well and if I can run with Krista I will definitely try to. We will just see if I can run her pace. I will try to.

“I think I just proved to myself (in Toronto Yonge Street 10k) I can do a lot more than I think I can. It has boosted my confidence level. You need that. You can be in very good shape but mentally you have to be tuned in on race day. I am definitely at a higher fitness level than last year.”

While Hannah has track aspirations, hoping to represent Canada at the 2015 Pan Am Games, DuChene would like to represent this country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (July 23 – August 3). Although her personal best of 2:28:32 from the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is well under the Commonwealth standard she hasn’t been told if she is on the team.

A spokesman for Athletics Canada has said the marathoners will be announced along with the rest of the Commonwealth Games team after the Canadian track and field championships (June 27-29 in Moncton, NB). This is something that doesn’t sit well with the marathoners.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the long distance runners have to wait so long to be given that information because we do need twelve weeks to mentally and physically prepare ourselves to run our best marathon,” DuChene says.

“It’s encouraging to know why we are going to bed early, why we are logging the miles, and why we not eating that cookie. So if I knew I was on that team it would make me that much more accountable and more motivated. I wish we knew. I think a lot of it is routine and will be made after track. Well that is, what, June? So a month before we are to run a marathon that’s when we are going to find out? It’s a little ridiculous.”

Although she is not in the midst of a marathon training buildup she has demonstrated good form already winning the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8k and the Around The Bay 30k before finishing second last week in Toronto. Defending her title in Montreal is the next target and she will not take the race lightly.

“You know, I think with women’s distance running the bar is getting higher and higher and for Rachel to step up and beat me is great,” she declares. “A lot of people were saying that I likely had the Toronto win and I did for nine and a half ‘k’. So it’s really great that it keeps all of us on our toes. I can’t just rely on Lanni (Marchant) or anyone else to keep me going and to make me accountable and to have that high level of competition. It is great that we are having more people step up and take that spot.”

The race starts at 10:00 a.m. and should the weather cooperate we might see exceptionally fast times. But will there be a successful title defense? That’s a good question.

-30-

 

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ERIC GILLIS LEADS EAST TO VICTORY AT TORONTO YONGE STREET 10K BY PAUL GAINS

A hungry Eric Gillis was absolutely determined to be today's champion!

A hungry Eric Gillis was absolutely determined to be today’s champion!

TORONTO. April 13th.  Two time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis sprinted home to victory in this morning’s Toronto Yonge Street 10k in a time of 28:32 after a heated battle with Toronto based Kenyan Paul Kimugul.

A pack of five had passed 5km in 14:27 before the pace quickened, dropping both Kip Kangogo and Vancouver’s Rob Watson. Gillis waited until the final six hundred metres when he surprised his rival with a turn of speed. His margin of victory was four seconds by the finish as Kimugul, the winner of the recent Around the Bay 30k race, came home in 28:36.

“I really feel good at this distance and the half marathon right now,” Gillis said afterwards. “I took extra time over the winter to work on some speed. I went indoors and worked out with the University of Guelph guys and I got my legs turning over.

“This is the one I really wanted to win. The Yonge Street 10k has been very competitive over the last number of years. So, when I am planning my race schedule I know this one will be competitive and I can really focus on it and have competition. I have finished second here a few times, I had yet to win it so I really wanted to win.”

Kip Kangogo claimed third place in a time of 29:08. A week ago the Kenyan born athlete received his Canadian citizenship and admits he has been smiling ever since.

A sold out crowd of 7,000 took over Yonge Street

A sold out crowd of 7,000 took over Yonge Street

The women’s race was a tremendous competition despite the late withdrawal of West co-captain Natasha Wodak and provided Toronto’s Rachel Hannah with a breakthrough opportunity. The 28 year old ran alongside Canadian international marathoner Krista DuChene up until the last five hundred metres before she kicked hard. She earned an eight second margin finishing in 32:33 to DuChene’s 32:41.

A breakthrough performance from Rachel Hannah!

A breakthrough performance from Rachel Hannah!

“Basically the last four or five hundred metres I felt I had a little bit left and I knew we were approaching the finish line,” Hannah revealed. “This is my third year doing this race so I knew where to kick and get into the last gear.

“It feels really excellent (to win in Toronto). I wish I could have worked a little bit more with (DuChene) during the race and this feels good my third year out. I am going to do the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal next.”

DuChene who represented Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships marathon in Moscow, and hopes to be picked to run in the Commonwealth Games this year, was upbeat despite her loss.

“Yes, I am happy but, you know what, I think I am more happy for Rachel,” she declared. “The girl is just phenomenal. We connected a few years ago, she and I both being dietitians. I am just thrilled to see her putting in the work slowly and consistently and look at the girl. She flew past me. I led for like nine and a half kilometres and she was gone. “A couple of times in the race I thought I was on my own and my mind started wandering, like it does in the marathon. Then I heard people shouting ‘Go girls’ and I thought “Whoa, what’s going on?’ You could tell she was tired of being second or third place and she knows the course. You could just tell, she knew the corners and the turns not that there’s that many. But I am happy. I am in a good place, I am fit, I am healthy. It’s fun doing all these races. And the East – West rivalry we will see how it goes but I think the East did ok!!”

Third place went to Erin Burrett of Nanaimo, BC in 33.29.

Meanwhile, Wodak had been doing nothing but pool running to rehabilitate her foot but after visiting a physiotherapist Saturday afternoon was warned not to race. The 32 year old has also withdrawn from next month’s Ottawa Marathon.

The first ever East versus West team concept was implemented in this race with the times of the top two males and females for each team added together. The lowest cumulative time earned the East vs. West Challenge Trophy.

The East team handily won with Hannah and DuChene finishing one-two in the women’s race and Eric Gillis winning and Peter Corrigan finishing fourth. The East total time was 2 hours 3 minutes and nine seconds while the West countered with 2 hours 7 minutes.

The manager of the East team, Chris Moulton was complimentary of the concept. Having returned from the FISU world university cross country championships in Uganda, where he was the head coach of the Canadian team, he is used to the team concept.

“It’s good natured,” he declared. “Obviously with Tasha (Wodak) not being able to run that hurt their team because she is an extremely strong athlete.

“Eric was in great shape, Peter we didn’t know what to expect because he is a track runner. What can you say about Rachel Hannah and Krista? That is a breakthrough run for Rachel. We could see it coming and a win in this kind of event is going to be huge for her confidence. It’s a fun concept, a good little battle.”

TYS10k14 SuperHeroes _FGA5265More than 7,000 runners raced Toronto’s premier 10k race with many contributing over $50,000 to ten official charities including Right To Play, Kids Up Front and Camp Toronto Triple Threat Bursary Fund. Sick Children’s Hospital had their own Justice League super heroes dressed in costumes including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman and Cat Woman.

Complete results at www.toronto10k.ca

 

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The Not So Ultimate Runners’ Panel

TORONTO. April 12th. Digital Champion Christopher Doyle is back for a second year as a #TYS10K Digital Champion. Christopher is a Dad of four (two girls, two boys) ages 9, 7, 4 and 2, who he interviewed for this blog post. A 15-year sports marketing executive, he lives with his young family in Whitby, but still manages to find time to run at least four times a week. Connect with Chris on Twitter @ChrisDoyle.

The Not So Ultimate Runner’s Panel. By Christopher Doyle.
TYS10K Chris Blog Post
We live in an age of panel experts. They often grace our television screens, giving us insight and opinion on everything from news and sports to health and politics. At conferences of all kinds, hundreds gather in halls as a moderator facilitates discussion amongst the leading experts in any particular field. Panelists of running experts, marathon coaches or fitness enthusiasts are regular fixtures at pre-race symposiums everywhere, delivering great insights for the attending runner.

An article dedicated to their insights, tips and tricks would have been amazing. But as a Dad to four loving children, without any time available to research such an enlightening article, it was time to assemble a panel of a different kind. It was time to see how my recent devotion to running road races was boring and/or inspiring the next generation. Who knows, perhaps I’m raising the next Lanni Marchant or Reid Coolsaet? It was time to find out.

Moderator (me): Thanks for assembling here today and taking time out of your busy schedules for this. Today we have my 9 and 7-year-old daughters, as well as my 4 and 2-year-old boys. (These are actual responses transcribed by the moderator. Full disclosure: Panelists were encouraged to not always simply repeat their sibling’s response.)

Moderator: So, let’s start off by asking you, why does Dad run these races anyway?

9: “Because you like to do them.”

7: “Because…umm…you want to get energy and stay healthy and stuff.”

4: “I don’t know.”

2: “What? Aaaaaaa…” (Followed by unintelligible; laughing from fellow panelists)

Moderator: What do you think Dad’s chances are of winning the Toronto Yonge St. 10K?

9: “Ok, because you’re really good at running. But some other people might be faster than you, and that’s Ok.”

7: “Your chances are…good.”

4: “No. You are not winning.”

2: “Yes, Daddy is going win the race!”

Moderator: Thanks. Ok, two-part question. Are you going to be a runner? What do you think of running?

9: “First, no, I’m not going to be a runner. I’m going to be a famous fashion designer or a famous artist. Sometimes when I run, I get a stomachache or it hurts my leg. Usually when I’m running I’m playing tag. Famous, famous. Make sure you say ‘famous’ there.”

7: “I don’t think I’m going to be a runner. I’m going to be a baker. But I think running is awesome.”

4: “Yes. I want to be runner. Because I love racin’.”

2: “No I’m not gunna be a runner. Yes. I like it. I like it lots.”

Moderator: Ok. What do you suppose Dad thinks about when he’s out training on those really long runs?

9: “Us. You are thinking about us and about getting back home where it’s warm.”

7: “Food. You are thinking about food aren’t you Daddy?”

4: “I don’t know. Me probably.”

2: “Don’t know.” (Hits oldest sister, saying: “Don’t tell me what to say. You can’t be Daddy’s trainer!” Ok. Noted.)

Moderator: Stop bugging your brother. Please? Can we just finish this? Ok, thanks. What do you think about people who run marathons or really long races?

9: “They must have a lot of energy to run so long.”

7: “They are crazy.”

4: “I like them.”

2: Long blank stare. Attempts to pick nose. Sister stops him. A second blank stare. No response.

Moderator: Do you like to watch Dad run these races?

9: “I like watching you run, but I would like it even more if you won first place.”

7: “Sometimes, although most of the time we can’t see you.”

4: “Yeah. I love you!”

2: Exits the panel. Runs away saying “wheee!” as sister chases him.

Moderator: Ok, thanks everyone. I think that’s the end of our panel today.

Are you a running Mom or Dad? What do your kids think about your running adventures? Let us know in the comments below!

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Toronto Yonge Street 10K Runners’ Rumble

TORONTO. April 8th. They’re some of your favourite writers and podcasters. You’ve read their words and heard them interview your favourite running stars, and now it’s time to see whose feet move the fastest! What started as a challenge posted on Twitter has turned into a full-blown Runner’s Rumble, and we’re here to keep the (friendly?) competition fierce and the runners hungry for victory!

Over the next 4 days we will reveal our competitors and give you an inside look at how they plan to get to the finish line first. You’ll meet Crazy Legs, Mr. Pain(e), Sparky, and the Almost Elite. Who are the runners behind these fearsome names? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

Today we introduce you to our fourth and final runner, Dan!

Tys10K Runners Rumble Dan Full

Dan “Almost Elite” Way, editor of the Canadian Race Guide and RaceGuide app and writer for Canadian Running magazine.
1) Hometown: Ingersoll, Ontario
2) Run Crew: Black Lungs TO
3) Running Superfood: Peanut butter and Twizzlers Super Nibs (but not together!)
4) Fastest 10K Time: 33:16 at TYS10K 2012
5) Running Battle Anthem: “I Love It” by Icona Pop
6) Most Impressive Running Accomplishment: Victory on leg 17 of the 2013 Cabot Trail Relay Race.
7) Finishing Move: “I yell, ‘Hey look, a bear!’ and then sprint to the finish.”
8) Message For His Opponents: “It’s a little early for a finisher’s kick, don’t you think?” (said to anyone who passes him before 9K)
Cheer for Dan on Twitter @DansWay07

Alex “Sparky” Flint, host of Distance Obsessed running podcast and blog.
1) Hometown: Keswick, Ontario.
2) Running Crew: Good Guys Tri
3) Running Superfood: Hot chili peppers
4) Fastest 10K Time: 38 minutes
5) Running Battle Anthem: “Firestarter” by Prodigy
6)  Most Impressive Running Accomplishment: 100km ultra road race
7)  Finishing Move: Throws rocks that are on fire
8) Message For His Opponents: “Try to keep up, because I am going to BURN. YOU. OUT.”
Cheer for Alex on Twitter @alexflint

Ben “Crazy Legs” Kaplan,  National Post’s Marathon Man, editor of EachCoach.com and author of Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now.
1) Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
2) Running Crew: EachCoach.com
3) Running Superfood: Spaghetti and salad the night before; banana, bagel, and peanut butter the morning of; anything I can get my hands on after the race is over.
4) Fastest 10K Time: “I know I’ve come under 40 minutes twice, but I don’t want to tell those other guys how fast I am; let them find out when they eat my dust.”
5) Running Battle Anthem: “Combat Baby” by Metric
6) Most Impressive Running Accomplishment: Writing Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, a book about running in stores NOW
7) Finishing Move: “Increase both my stride length and arm motion, and pretend there’s only one beer (from Bellwoods Brewery!) at the finish line, and whoever get there first, gets the drink.”
8) Message For His Opponents: “I guess I would like to say I feel sorry for them. They seem like such nice people, handsome and kind, and yet they are setting themselves up for such grave disappointment. Oh well.”
Cheer for Ben on Twitter @NP_RunningBen

Mr. Noel Pain(e), writer for Canadian Running magazine.
1) Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia
2) Running Superfood: “I fuel up on slower runners. I also love cold chocolate milk.”
3) Fastest 10K Time: “35:00, but it’s been a long time since I have run that well.”
4) Running Battle Anthem: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
5) Most Impressive Running Accomplishment: A 100km trail ultramarathon in Northern Ireland, running solo across the Grand Canyon last year in the Rim2Rim2Rim
6) Finishing Move: “Make car noises as I pass my opponents and dig deep back into my track days and hope my middle-aged body still has some top gears.”
7) Message For His Opponents: “You boys better put down your pens and lace up your shoes – if you’re going to beat me, you are going to need sweat and grunting to do it.”
Cheer for Noel on Twitter @NoelPaine

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Wodak Leads West Stars into Toronto Yonge Street 10k battle, by Paul Gains

Natasha Wodak gives her victory fist-pump after a battle with Rachel Cliff to win Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k last Sunday

Natasha Wodak gives her victory fist-pump after a battle with Rachel Cliff to win Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k last Sunday

TORONTO. April 7th. Natasha Wodak leads the West all-star team into this Sunday’s Toronto Yonge Street 10k and to say she is excited about the prospect is a bit of an understatement.

“Yeah I think it’s a really awesome idea,” she said from her hotel room in Santa Cruz, California where members of the West are locked into a warm weather training camp.

“One of the things I always loved about cross country was that it was a team event. It wasn’t just about your own result, which is why I think I loved it so much.

“It’s really cool that when you cross the line it’s not over because you are part of the West team. You turn around and wonder ‘where are my other teammates?’ It’s exciting to be part of a team. It creates a good story. It’s great for the sport and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I am happy to be a part of it.”

The accumulated times of the top two males and top two females from each team will decide the winning team. There is a trophy to be won but the bragging rights are most important.

The 32 year old personable Vancouver runner has been on a roll since winning the 2013 Canadian National Cross Country Championships last November and declares her love for the team concept. Just last week she handily won the Modo Spring Run Off 8k in Vancouver, the race which launched the 2014 Canada Running Series.

Krista at Scotiabank toronto Waterfront marathon 2012, where she finished top Canadian, 4th overall in 2:32:16

Krista at Scotiabank toronto Waterfront marathon 2012, where she finished top Canadian, 4th overall in 2:32:16

Wodak’s team from Western Canada will tackle an East all-star team that includes two of her biggest rivals Krista DuChene and Tarah Korir. The former represented Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow while Korir returns from six months of high altitude training in her husband Wesley Korir’s native Kenya.

Although Wodak has twice won the Vancouver Sun Run 10k she achieved national celebrity when she was the first Canadian finisher at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland crossing the line a respectable 24th in her first major international competition. She has her sights firmly set on representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and will attempt to qualify by running the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon next month. The Toronto race is an important stepping stone.

Tarah Korir breaks the tape to win #TYS10k 2012 -- just 6 days after husband Wesley won Boston Marathon!

Tarah Korir breaks the tape to win #TYS10k 2012 — just 6 days after husband Wesley won Boston Marathon!

“You know I have only ever raced Tarah once or twice and Krista I have raced a lot,” she says of the upcoming 10k confrontation. “They are both very talented. You know we are all kind of around the same speed at 10k I think, so, it should be a good battle out there.”

Korir won the Toronto Yonge Street 10k in 2012 with a time of 32:07 and along with DuChene she will be supported by Toronto’s Rachel Hannah, who certainly knows the course well. She was second in 2013 (33:40) and third in 2012.

The East team also includes two-time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis who originally hails from Antigonish, Nova Scotia but is a long term resident of Guelph, Ontario. Wodak can point to Canadian international Rob Watson and defending Toronto Yonge Street 10k champion Kip Kangogo as the top male contenders for the West. All in all, it will be an exciting contest.

Almost ten months ago Wodak switched coaches joining up on a full time basis with Richard Lee who is now coach of the BC Endurance project. The adjustment was difficult at first because she found herself increasing her weekly training volume to about 130km. Combining the heavier endurance regime with her part time job as a restaurant server was also a challenge.

Look for EAST-WEST Challenge team members on Race Day with their names and "EAST" or "WEST" on their bibs

Look for EAST-WEST Challenge team members on Race Day with their names and “EAST” or “WEST” on their bibs

“I am still serving at The Boathouse (Kitsilano Beach location) two or three days a week,” she reveals. “There have been a few days that have been hard; when I am having to do double runs then go into work at 5pm and work six hours on my feet.

“Its definitely exhausting but everyone has a job. Most elite runners in Canada are not fortunate to make enough running to just run. I try to not work the night before a race. but sometimes I do. I have been doing it for so long so it is what it is.”

Wodak and several other West team members will fly directly to Toronto from California for the race. The camaraderie amongst the group, she says, is critical to her ongoing success.

“Training with Rich’s group; we are all similar in age,” she declares, “we all have the same goals, we all want to make national teams, we all want to go to the Commonwealth Games, go to the Olympic games. Those are our dreams and goals, We work to run. It is really great, we all really support one another. It has been a lot of fun. I am really enjoying going to the workouts.”

Canada Running Series organizers are expecting some of the West team to join in the ‘Tune up’ Training Run on Saturday, April 12th. The run is free, and part of the Toronto Yonge Street 10k runners expo and begins outside the Sheraton Hotel at 9:00 a.m. Eric Gillis will be among the East team members participating.

FG_TYS10K13_870For everyone, there will be the thrill of the race-day dash down the middle of Canada’s most-famous street, from Eglinton to Fort York. There are finishers’ medals waiting for everyone after they cross the line on Fort York Boulevard and a post-race victory party with live music from The HoneyRunners Band in Garrison Common Park. Family and friends can “Follow” their favourite runners on Facebook and Twitter and via “Live Results”. Ten important local charities that include Kids Up Front, Camp Toronto Triple Threat, Right To Play and Children’s Peace Theatre are also hoping to go home winners.

Entry and information at www.toronto10k.ca [online entry available until midnight, Monday, April 7th].

PRELIMINARY TEAMS: EAST VERSUS WEST

EAST

Eric Gillis (Guelph ON)

Nick Sunseri (Toronto ON)

Peter Corrigan (Toronto ON)

Kyle O’Neill (Aylmer, ON)

Krista Duchene (Brantford ON)

Rachel Hannah (Toronto ON)

Tarah Korir (St Clements ON)

Kate Bazeley (Cornerbrook NL)

Lisa Avery (Orillia ON)

WEST

Kip Kangogo (Lethbridge, AB – Kenya)

Rob Watson (Vancouver BC)

Adam Byles (Vancouver BC – Australia)

Richard Mosley (Burnaby BC)

Natasha Wodak (Vancouver BC)

Dayna Pidhoresky (Vancouver BC)

Erin Burrett (Nanaimo BC)

Sabrina Wilkie (Vancouver, BC)

Catherine Watkins (Vancouver, BC)

 

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Kimugul, DuChene win blustery Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K in High Park, Toronto

TORONTO. April 5th. Kenya’s Paul Kimugul [24:09] and Krista DuChene [27:45] took the men’s and women’s titles at the 36th Annual Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K to fight prostate cancer on a chilly, blustery morning in High Park, as Canada Running Series 2014 got rolling in Toronto. A sold out crowd of almost 2,700 toed the line for the 10am start, with the thermometer at 2c, and strong, gusty winds. Another 1,800 ran the accompanying 5K later in the morning, and almost 200 kids were undeterred by the cool morning to take on their 800m event. As befitting the tradition of the race, and “Opening Day” for the Series in Eastern Canada, a competitive line up Canadian distance runners were out to do battle.

tf_hsrot14_0175The men’s race saw a highly-competitive, see-saw tussle between Kimugul, last year’s winner Sami Jibril of Athletics Toronto, and Speed River’s Olympian Eric Gillis who was the 2012 race champion. These three broke away early, but the contest was not decided until the final gut-wrenching 600m charge up Spring Road Hill. On the legendary stiff incline, Jibril came back on Gillis to move into second, but was successfully fought off by Kimugul. They finished in 24:09 and 24:11, with Gillis jogging home from the top of the hill in 24:20. While the veteran Kimugul showed his class, especially coming back just 6

Paul Kimugul fights to hold off a charging Sami Jibril on Spring Road Hill

Paul Kimugul fights to hold off a charging Sami Jibril on Spring Road Hill

days after his win at the Around the Bay 30k, the performance of the day most-likely belonged to Sami Jibril. The 24-year old Somali-Canadian, who works nights for the TTC and trains in the day, is clearly moving up to a new level.

“I’m really pleased,” he said. “It was an excellent PB, and a good time, especially given the conditions. I felt a little bit of pressure after last year’s win, and Eric and Paul out there. I knew I was going to have to work hard. I hung in there, and we took shots at each other throughout the race.It all came together with 2k to go. Paul strung us out a bit, and it was just racing from there. I kinda surprised myself catching Eric. I was focussing on Paul, but I was a little bit scared. Scared running! I couldn’t quite catch him, but I’m happy with the way I ran.” A visibly disappointed Eric Gillis said he felt tired, especially near the end, and never felt comfortable. “I know I can race better than that,” he said. He’ll get an early chance to do that, anchoring the East Team in the East-West Challenge at Toronto Yonge Street 10K next Sunday. And he’ll get a re-match with Sami Jibril at the Banque Scoitia 21K de Montreal on April 27th, for the National Championship. It will be Jibril’s debut at the longer distance.

Another convincing victory for Krista DuChene

Another convincing victory for Krista DuChene

The contest between Krista DuChene, Harry’s 2013 champion, and Tarah Korir, 2012 champ, never materialized as DuChene demolished the field as well as the High Park hills, to win by over a minute, 27:44 to 28:47. Brantford’s “Marathon Mom” was also racing 6 days after Around the Bay, but seemed similarly unaffected. She went out hard, and was already 30m clear by 2k. It was a lead she steadily extended, as she cruised around the second half of the course for the convincing victory.

Behind the leaders there were lots of smiles, not the least of which belonged to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation who took home a large cheque from Harry Rosen CEO, Larry Rosen and the runners for $186,000, to support the fight against prostate cancer. This brought the total raised during Harry Rosen’s 9 year sponsorship to $2.6 million. Both Larry Rosen and CFO Conrad Frejlich ran the 8K. Councillor Sarah Doucette flipped pancakes for the High Park Nature Conservancy. High Park Members of

How much fun is this?!

How much fun is this?!

Parliament Peggy Nash and Cheri DiNovo were both out to cheer on the runners. And Councillor Mike Layton and Olivia Chow sounded the Start horns then jumped in and ran the 5K. Despite the chilly conditions, there was a fine sense of occasion as the Toronto community came out to launch a new season.

For complete Results see http://www.canadarunningseries.com/springrunoff/csroRESULT.htm

Next up, the dash down Yonge: Toronto Yonge Street 10k, Sunday, April 13th. www.Toronto10k.ca

 

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Awesome Race Signs To Cheer With

TORONTO. April 2nd 2014. When Andrew ran his first 10K two and half years ago, he felt like a hero. The city streets were closed just for his run. People cheered him on like he was an Olympian. He got a sparkly medal that he could keep wearing for days. And he had all-you-can-eat bagels at the finish. He was hooked.

The Toronto Yonge Street 10K was that very first race that he ran two and a half years ago. He’s thrilled to be a race ambassador and to be able to encourage others to run this race as either their first 10K or for those seeking a personal best time. In other words, he just wants others to feel like a hero too.You can read about Andrew’s running obsessions on his Obsessive Runner blog on iRun.ca or follow him on Twitter @AndrewChak.

Awesome Race Signs To Cheer With. By Andrew Chak.

With race season upon us, it’s time for us to get excited and get inspired to run our best. For those who are on the sidelines enthusiastically cheering us on as we run by we appreciate every effort you make to spur us on. We especially appreciate creative race signs that bring a smile to our face when we really need it.

In an effort to inspire other race sign ideas, I gathered together a group of the Toronto Yonge Street 10K Digital Champions (and some friends) to share with you some awesome race signs that we hope to see at this and other races. If you like these signs, go to iRun to see 10 more awesome race signs!

Olympian marathoner @EricGillis42_2k cheers us on with a classic quote

AwesomeRaceSigns-EricGillis42_2k

@TorontoFitmom reminds us how to run faster

AwesomeRaceSigns-TorontoFitmom@JodiLewchuk knows just how good looking us runners are!

AwesomeRaceSigns-JodiLewchuk@TheAthletarian give us good motivation to finish fast!

AwesomeRaceSigns-TheAthletarian@Mark_Sawh calls ‘em like he sees ‘em

AwesomeRaceSigns-Mark_Sawh@christadavidson encourages us to run with a sense of urgency

AwesomeRaceSigns-christadavidson@lindamnguyen uses her arms to power our legs

AwesomeRaceSigns-lindamnguyen@RunSoulCycle cannot hide her disappointment

AwesomeRaceSigns-RunSoulCycle@The_Real_Alyssa gives us a boost when we need it

AwesomeRaceSigns-The_Real_Alyssa@andrewchak explains why he’d rather be running

AwesomeRaceSigns-andrewchakNeed a bit more inspiration or some more laughs? Check out the other 10 awesome race signs on iRun! Will you be cheering at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 13th? What will your sign say?

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Toronto Yonge Street 10k To Host Epic ‘East Versus West’ Street Battle, by Paul Gains

A jubilant victory punch for Kip at #TYS10k 2013!

A jubilant victory punch for Kip at #TYS10k 2013!

TORONTO. March 28th.  Toronto’s premier 10km race will mark the occasion of the first ‘East versus West’ elite team contest in Canadian road racing history on April 13th.

The Toronto Yonge Street 10km, a foot race down one of the country’s most famous streets, is expected to attract more than seven thousand runners intent on chasing a fast time and enjoying the associated festivities. The race will finish near historic Fort York in front of a large crowd of spectators.

Among those who will toe the start line are some of the country’s best racers who will compete for a challenge trophy, and more importantly, for the accompanying bragging rights.

“I think the East-West challenge idea is an excellent one,” says Richard Lee, coach of the BC Athletics Endurance Project, who will oversee the West team. “The more friendly rivalries and strong club or group structures we can have in Canada the better for everyone.

TYS10K 2013 mass Start FG_TYS10K13_870“It harkens back to the 1980′s with the Toronto Olympic Club and the Etobicoke Husky Striders versus the Richmond Kajaks and the (University of Victoria) Vikes. That produced many of the strongest distance runners in Canadian history. The competition between clubs, groups or regions, adds a little more importance, excitement and flavour to events like the Toronto Yonge Street 10k. It’s great that the Canada Running Series is adding a little spice to the regular road race scene.”

Natasha Wodak gives her victory fist-pump after a battle with Rachel Cliff to win Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k last Sunday

Natasha Wodak gives her victory fist-pump after a battle with Rachel Cliff to win Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k last Sunday

Lee will bring several athletes from his extremely talented group including Canadian international marathoner Rob Watson and Natasha Wodak, who won the Canada Running Series kick off event, the Modo Spring Run Off 8km, last weekend in Vancouver.

The defending Toronto Yonge Street 10km champion Kip Kangogo of Kenya will also add his significant presence to the West all star team. The 35 year old is a resident of Lethbridge, Alberta and is awaiting his Canadian citizenship. In the meantime he has been making an enormous impact on the Canadian running scene. A year ago he was the Canada Running Series overall champion.

The East team is managed by Chris Moulton of the University of Guelph, who just returned from leading the Canadian national team to the FISU world university cross country championships in Entebbe, Uganda. He acknowledges his team will be in a fight but insists they will be extremely competitive.

Moulton points out that the East team includes two time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis, Krista DuChene, who represented Canada in the 2013 IAAF World Championships marathon and Tarah Korir, the 2012 Toronto Yonge Street 10k champion. Korir is returning to Canada following six months of high altitude training in her husband Wesley’s native Kenya.

Tarah Korir breaks the tape to win #TYS10k 2012 -- just 6 days after husband Wesley won Boston Marathon!

Tarah Korir breaks the tape to win #TYS10k 2012 — just 6 days after husband Wesley won Boston Marathon!

The times of the top two males and top two females on each team will be added together and the team with the lowest total time will be declared the victor.

The contest resulted from a discussion involving Canada Running Series director, Alan Brookes and Lee. The pair were simply sharing ideas in an informal brainstorming session and this concept arose. Since then it has taken on a life of its own.

The appointment of Chris Moulton as the East team’s manager was a natural choice. Moulton is also manager of Speed River Track Club and the University of Guelph track and cross country teams.

“As our team sits right now we think we have an outstanding shot at having a highly competitive race with the West team,” Moulton adds. “We love this concept and are happy to take on our friends from the west and defend our turf.

“Richard has put together a terrific team and we look forward to a good battle. Our athletes have a lot of experience racing on this course and I feel that will benefit our team greatly.”

An in-form Rachel Hannah could be a serious surprise factor!

An in-form Rachel Hannah could be a serious surprise factor!

The course records are especially quick – not surprising since the race is downhill – with Kenyans Stephen Koskei (27:47) and Florence Jepkoskei (31:42) the holders. Over the years leading Canadians have also run fast. In 2011 for instance Olympians Reid Coolsaet (28:08) and Gillis (28:09) held off Kangogo by a step. [great VIDEO].

The men’s race will likely come down to a tussle between defending champion Kangogo and Eric Gillis but Watson could spring a surprise. Both Gillis, who is a member of Speed River Track Club and Watson are preparing for the Ottawa Marathon and see this race as an important test of their fitness.

Meanwhile, Tarah Korir, Natasha Wodak and Krista DuChene will provide the excitement at the front of the women’s race. But we shouldn’t forget Toronto’s own Rachel Hannah who was second last year.

A well organised fast course, accurate finishing times, 10 great charities to run for and excellent post-race entertainment will ensure the seven thousand runners have a great day in Toronto. Now, we’ll also see who reigns supreme, East or West?

PRELIMINARY TEAMS: EAST VERSUS WEST

EAST

Eric Gillis (Guelph ON)

Nick Sunseri (Toronto ON)

Peter Corrigan (Toronto ON)

Kyle O’Neill (Aylmer, ON)

Krista Duchene (Brantford ON)

Rachel Hannah (Toronto ON)

Tarah Korir (St Clements ON)

Kate Bazeley (Cornerbrook NL)

Lisa Avery (Orillia ON)

 WEST

Kip Kangogo (Lethbridge, AB – Kenya)

Rob Watson (Vancouver BC)

Adam Byles (Vancouver BC – Australia)

Richard Mosley (Burnaby BC)

Natasha Wodak (Vancouver BC)

Dayna Pidhoresky (Vancouver BC)

Erin Burrett (Nanaimo BC)

Sabrina Wilkie (Vancouver, BC)

Catherine Watkins (Vancouver, BC)

Note:  The times of the top two males and top two women on each team will be added. The team with the lowest aggregate will be declared the winners.

 Final teams will be declared on Friday April 11th.

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For race registration: www.canadarunningseries.com

 

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No Longer Unknown Sami Jibril Aims To Defend Harry’s Spring Run Off, by Paul Gains

IJ_HSRO13_1462

Sami beats Josephat Ongeri by a stride for dramatic, surprise 2013 Harry’s win!

TORONTO. March 25. A year ago Toronto’s Sami Jibril went into the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8km as a relative unknown and emerged as a surprise victor [2013 Race Report].

On April 5th he will be among the contenders in this race which, for thirty seven years, has provided Canadians and international stars with a professionally organized and challenging course.

The competition at the front has always been extremely tough too. Indeed, the course record of 22:35 was set by Kenya’s Daniel Komen in 1994. Komen went on to set world records at both 3,000m and 5,000m on the track not to mention the 1997 IAAF World Championship 5,000m gold medal.

Jibril opened his 2014 road race season with a strong performance at the Jacksonville River Run 15km March 15th. That race doubled as the US national 15km championship and was an excellent test of his winter training the likes of which he has not experienced in the past. He encompassed between 160 and 200km a week in very severe Arctic-like conditions.

Battling to hold off Ongeri

Battling to hold off Ongeri

His performance also confirmed his future lies in road racing rather than track.

“It went well,” Jibril says choosing his words deliberately. “The fields were loaded on both sides, men and women, very deep. It was a really fast run until the last hill. It was a battle the whole way. It was hard to not be engaged.

“Competitiveness? Every second of the race was competitive. It was good for me to be in a race like that. I ran 46:34 and was 30th place. I am pretty fit strength wise.”

Unlike many of those competitors and the majority of the Harry’s Spring Run Off field he doesn’t have the luxury of getting away to warm weather training camps. Indeed, the 24 year old has not a single sponsor and must totally rely on his income as a full time employee of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Jibril works the ‘graveyard shift’ from 11 pm until 7am five days a week sometimes as a repairman, sometimes as a janitor.

“Depending on if I have got a group workout I workout in the morning,” he explains. “I finish my shift, go home for a few minutes, collect myself, have a coffee, a bit of breakfast and then head out the door. That is truly my workout. Any other day I usually get home and sleep. The other option is get my workout in fuel up and then sleep.”

Chasing down Rejean Chiasson

Chasing down Rejean Chiasson

The adjustment to shift work was by no means immediate.

“I did have trouble sleeping for the first six months,” he reveals. “I didn’t know if it was possible for me to balance the lifestyle of what I was in. But I figured through time management skills that I had that I really did need to execute all areas. I had some health issues.

“I never had any of these problems before and my doctors could not figure it out and just classified it as a virus. So I was put on different medications and puffers and had many medical tests which did not help. During this time I was training with these problems and had horrible respiratory (asthma attacks) problems while racing the track season throughout the summer and fall of 2013.”

The conclusion was that his disrupted sleep patterns had led to an aversion to some foods including eggs, dairy, gluten and hazelnuts. With the help of a local naturopath he says he quickly changed his diet and his health improved.

Health problems now behind him, Jibril is exuding confidence as he prepares for Harry’s Spring Run Off and ultimately the Banque Scotia 21km de Montreal the Canadian Half Marathon Championship. Both races are part of the 2014 Canada Running Series.

“I am confident that I am the fittest I have ever been in my life and am ready to compete hard to defend my title,” Jibril declares. “The Jacksonville 15km told me I am a lot stronger than I think and it reinforces my confidence that I can compete in a strong field.”

Although his heritage is Somali-Ethiopian Jibril was born in Rome and emigrated to Canada with his parents when he was three. They had fled the strife in their region – Ethiopian troops were fighting with Somalian forces in Eastern Ethiopia – and landed in Italy. He moved to the High Park area of Toronto when he was 22 leaving his parents and two brothers and a sister in Brampton, Ontario. Training is done under the supervision of Hugh Cameron of Athletics Toronto.

As one would expect his upside down lifestyle can limit his social life.

“You know what? Training and work takes up mostly all of my time. I like to just sit at home and watch TV,” he allows. “I am a basketball fan so I keep up with the (Toronto) Raptors. I just generally kind of doing do much on the side because it takes so much energy balancing lifestyle. I do once in a while eat with friends. It’s not on a weekly basis I kind of keep it modest until the season is done.”

Should his foray into half marathon racing prove successful Jibril says a fall marathon is a definite possibility. Modest goals of around 65 minutes for the half distance would indicate he will tackle the full 42km.

In the meantime, though, it’s 8km through High Park that dominates his race planning at the moment. A victory there would be a massive step along the path he is taking to the top of Canadian distance running.

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For More Information and race registration see Harry’s Spring Run Off website.

 

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Wiebe and Wodak record impressive wins to launch Canada Running Series 2014 at Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k.

Natasha Wodak & Rachel Cliff battle it out past Siwash Rock, just past 4km

Natasha Wodak & Rachel Cliff battle it out past Siwash Rock, between 4km and 5km

VANCOUVER. March 23rd. Kelly Wiebe and Natasha Wodak got Canada Running Series 2014 off to a flying start with impressive victories at the Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K. It was a picture-perfect Spring morning on the Stanley Park Seawall, with almost 1,000 runners drawn from across the country and as far away as Hawaii and Brazil. Wiebe lead from Start to Finish, and crossed the line in a strong early-season time of 24:03. Wodak, also from the BC Endurance Project with Coach Richard Lee, had much more of a tussle as she fought a see-saw battle with UBCs Rachel Cliff, only breaking away over the last 1500m for the victory in a crisp 26:39. Conditions were ideal, with bright sunshine, a temperature of 5c for the 10am start, that rose to 9c during the morning, and only a light breeze. The energy of a new sponsor in Modo The Car Co-op, a new charity partner, the Take A Hike Foundation, and a new season, all added to the palpable energy in the Springtime air, amongst the big trees and mountains on the Pacific shores.

The 24-year-old Wiebe started CRS 2014 with a decided sense of purpose, in front of the Stanley Park Pavilion.

Kelly Wiebe on cruise control after an early destruction of the competition at Modo 8k

Kelly Wiebe on cruise control after an early destruction of the competition at Modo 8k

It came at the end of a pretty big training week, but I still wanted a hard effort, he said in a post-race interview. It was fun out there. A beautiful day. I wanted to make the race honest and make the other guys work. That was the main reason for the hard start. I was on my own after the first kilometre. I guess the pace was a little more honest than I thought!

Following today’s “road cameo” performance, Kelly will now move to the track in earnest in April, at Stanford and Payton Jordan meets, to hopefully make the 28:03 10,000m standard for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. BCEP teammate Kevin Friesen [25:00] came home 2nd, almost a minute back in the “no-contest” decision, with resident Aussie Adam Byles third, another 25 seconds back.

cr_srov14_116 copy (1)The women’s contest was decidedly more absorbing, with the tasty duel between Wodak and Cliff. It’s an ongoing friendly-feud, that has featured some memorable tussles, including the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the snows of Poland where Natasha bested Rachel by 1 second, for them to take impressive 24th and 25th places overall. According to Natasha,

It was tough coming back after Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October [following an encouraging 2:35:16 debut]. I took 6 days off, then continued to train right through to the National Cross Country Championships 5 weeks later [where she became Champion]. I really didn’t give my body the recovery it needed. So I really struggled with consistency in December. I would stop and start with my training. So in January I just basically ran. In February it started to come together. Then finally, just the last month, I’ve really started to get back to where I want to be. Today’s race was great! I just wanted a good race. Me and Rachel really battled it out. It was pretty much back and forth the whole race. It was a great challenge. Good to have someone out there really going for it. I’m happy!

ij_srov14_0127Though disappointed not to get the win, Cliff was philosophical. “Of course I would have liked to win. But I got a 1 minute PB out of it. When Natasha went a final time around 6.5km that was it. But I’m still really pleased. Now it’s onto the track with a 5000m at Stanford in 2 weeks.”

Wodak will head for a debut at Canada Running Series’ Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 13th, then defend her SunRun 10K title in Vancouver on 27th, before heading to Ottawa for her second marathon on May 25th. Also making a rare road appearance, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory’s Lindsay Carson was an impressive 3rd, just 22 seconds back of Cliff.

How amazing is this?!

How amazing is this?!

The spectacularly scenic course, the Stanley Park venue, and a vibrant, new Modo Community Fair after the race underscored Canada Running Series’ commitment to providing quality races for runners of all levels, and to being an important part of building sustainable communities. The Fair included Modo the Car Co-op, committed to the vision that no-one should have to own a car; HUB, Vancouver’s Bicycle Network; Maker Mobile Workshop on Wheels; Vancouver Farmers’ Markets; Victory Gardens ]We Help You Grow Food]; and Vancouver Tool Library, as well as BC Athletics. “Working with Modo on the race, we’re able to showcase some great facets of the community,” said Race Director Clif Cunningham, “and also deliver a great run for the high-performance, recreational and charity runners alike. Everyone belongs in CRS!”

Complete Results available.

Canada Running Series 2014 Calendar.

 

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