A hearty THANKS & CONGRATULATIONS to all of you who were part of a wonderful Canada Running Series 2014! From the 58,429 who ran or walked, to the 16 full-time CRS professional staff and more than 5,000 volunteers, to those of you who raised almost $6 million for our 315 Official Charities, to our 18 great sponsors who were a vital part of everything… YOU ROCKED CANADA!
Together, we certainly underscored our strong, shared commitment to “building community through running” – our CRS mission.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be making best-efforts to recognize and celebrate the achievements of all types of runners who came together this year to create some very special moments: competitive runners; healthy lifestyle runners; and charity runners and walkers. Today its the turn of the competitive runners as we salute ERIC GILLIS and RACHEL HANNAH, our fine CRS 2014 Overall Champions. Also, LIOUDMILA KORTCHAGUINA and PREDRAG MLADENOVIC our Masters (40+) Champions. Bravo Eric & Rachel, Lioudmila & Predrag for setting the pace, and showing us how its done! We’d also like to recognize the 261 other competitive runners who gained points by finishing in the top 10 places (Open & Masters) at one or more CRS 2014 races. Is YOUR name up there? Finally, a “chapeau” to all who won honours in their Age Categories in the Series.
Here Paul Gains’ lovely feature on our 2014 Champions… ENJOY!
Alan Brookes, Race Director.
ps. If you enjoyed CRS 2014, the CRS 2015 Calendar is now posted, and you can make the most of Early Bird pricing and Combo Pack savings for CRS 2015 by registering before the New Year.
Gillis and Hannah Win 2014 Canada Running Series Titles, by Paul Gains
After eight races in seven months, and with 58,429 participants, the 2014 Canada Running Series came to a climactic finish October 19th following its flagship event, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Eric Gillis ran a personal best time of 2:11:21 in the IAAF Silver Label race – good enough for an impressive 9th place – to earn him the CRS title for the first time in his career.
“It is the first time I have won it,” Gillis admitted. “I actually tied last year and Kip (Kangogo) got me on the tiebreaker. It does feel quite nice. I got the Oasis Zoo Run 10k (Canadian 10k championship) for the first time this year, the Toronto Yonge Street 10k for the first time, and now CRS for the first time.”
Gillis earns an additional $2,500 for being the Series Champion with 165 points, to go with the $12,800 he won in his 5 CRS races this year. He admits his performance at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon capped the best season of his career. Besides winning the national 10k title at the Oasis Zoo Run, the 34 year old also won two other CRS races – the Banque Scotia 21km de Montreal, which doubles as the Canadian Half Marathon championship, and the Toronto Yonge Street 10k. It was his third consecutive victory in Montreal.
Kip Kangogo, who celebrated his newly acquired Canadian citizenship in the spring, wound up second this time with 156 points and will collect $1,500. Toronto’s Sami Jibril was third earning $1,000.
The Canada Running Series is something special, Gillis concludes.
“This is different than an individual event in that it’s an indicator of consistency,” he declares. “I have never won it before but had good races in the past. So it’s nice to look back on 2014. I knew I had a consistent season; it felt like a consistent season and this is just one of these more concrete indicators.
“This is the icing. It’s a nice gesture, an extra bit of interest, that (Race Director) Alan Brookes put a bit of cash behind it and made it an interesting sidebar to Canadian distance athletes. I am lucky to have his support throughout the year.”
While Gillis had come close in the past, and has been a frequent participant in the series, the women’s overall title when to a relative newcomer to road racing.
Rachel Hannah beat Lanni Marchant with 165 points accumulated through victories at the Toronto Yonge Street 10k, the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal and then the Oasis Zoo Run where she ran away from Marchant in the final kilometre.
Hannah, 28, who works as a clinical dietician full time and trains with the University of Toronto Track Club, was delighted to learn she was the overall winner. Already she has earmarked the $2,500 prize money to forward her promising career. It brings her total winnings at CRS 2014 to $10,000.
“It definitely helps advance my career because it’s the highest I have ever placed overall and it’s a good resume builder,” she said. “I actually was looking at a list of my achievements over the last year and that added to the list. It helps when you are looking for sponsorship and it adds credibility to your season.
“It’s fantastic. It really helps. Timing is perfect; it’s cross country season now and we are flying to Vancouver (for the national championships), so it helps with accommodation and flights. I will definitely be using the prize money towards that.”
Third place in the women’s category goes to Natasha LaBeaud of Kelowna, BC. She was the victor at the Vancouver East Side 10k and was a surprise 8th place finisher in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, one place behind Marchant.
In addition to the open category the Canada Running Series offers prize money incentives to the top Canadian masters too.
This year the women’s master’s prize was decided by a tie breaker – using head to head competition – leaving Lioudmila Kortchaguina as the 2014 CRS champion over Catherine Watkins. Both had scored 164 points but the former Canadian international marathoner beat her rival at both the Vancouver Eastside 10k and the Oasis Zoo Run 10k. Watkins outran Kortchaguina at the Toronto Yonge Street 10k.
The overall master’s winner receives $750 while second place is good for $500.
With victories at the Harry’s Spring Run Off in Toronto, the Toronto Yonge Street 10k, the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal and the Oasis Zoo Run Toronto’s Predrag Mladenovic was an easy winner of the men’s master category.
The impact of the Series on Canadian distance running has been well versed by numerous athletes. Rachel Hannah in particular praised the series for providing top class races as well as prize money.
“It helps when you are looking at self-funded athletes,” Hannah explains. “Obviously I am not receiving (national) funding yet so it really does help to have the Series like this because it gives you added funding, and, it gives you a goal to reach towards, and helps supports the whole road racing scene in general. It’s extremely helpful.
“What Alan Brookes has done for road racing in Canada shows how much support and dedication he puts into it. And the funding coming back really helps keep me training, keeps me fueled and it gets me to races too.”
In addition to providing elite runners an opportunity to further their careers the Series raised almost $6 million in 2014 for over 300 charities in the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver areas.