JANUARY 24th. What was shaping up to be a good women’s race for the Canadian Half Marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, just became even better with the addition of Ontario’s Megan Brown and Lanni Marchant. They will join Windsor’s Dayna Pidhoresky and Newfoundland’s Kate Vaughan on the start line in Parc Jean Drapeau on Sunday, April 17th.
Now with the Brooks Canada Marathon Project in Toronto, the 25 year old Guelph native Megan Brown, had a distinguished high school and collegiate career in Guelph and at the University of Toronto. Following difficult challenges with Lyme’s disease in 2008 and 2009, Megan has now returned to good health, and a consistency in training that has to make her one of the pre-race favourites to take this year’s Half Marathon Championship.
She was OFSAA Junior Cross Country Champion and OFSAA 1500m Track Champion in 2002, then Canadian Junior Cross Country Champ in 2003. Despite the struggle with Lymes, Megan still had an illustrious university athletics career: 4x University of Toronto Athlete of the Year; 3x CIS and Ontario Canadian Cross Country Champion (2007, 2008, 2009); 3x Athlete of the Year, Cross Country (2007, 2008, 2009); 5th place finish at the FISU World Cross Country Championship; 2x Canadian Cross Country Silver Medalist (2006, 2009). Her all-round academic and sports excellence culminated last year when she was named Student-Athlete of the year at U of T [all sports].
Along the way, based on “middle-distance type training”, Megan set PRs of 4.12.99 for 1500m [FISU], 4.36.66 for the mile [Boston University] and 15.56.11 for 5000m [Windsor] – all set in ’07 before Lyme’s set in. She also worked in some road racing:
The roads have always been my favourite aspect of our sport. I just love the culture surrounding road racing and being able to share my love of running with thousands of other people. It is a lot more fun for me. Plus, the road race season is all year round so there is more flexibility in choosing races and periodizing training.
Megan won the Sporting Life Toronto 10K in 2005 in 34:07. She won Harry’s Spring Run Off in 2007 [28:05] and was 2nd [28:09] in 2010. She won the National 10K Road Championship in 2008 [33:54] and as a result ran on the Canadian team at the prestigious Chiba Ekiden relays in Japan later that Fall. Despite this success, the roads always appear to have been a fun sideline for Megan, perhaps to provide variety and inspiration for running during her health-related battles. In this vein, she ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon 2009 “for fun” in 1:17:58.
Now things are different. Megan joined the Brooks Project after her graduation from U of T last year. With Coach Hugh Cameron:
Thankfully, a new tide has turned. Now, as a post-collegiate athlete, with more time to take care of my body, I am enjoying a state of health that I have not had in years. As a result, I am very excited to string together some solid training and racing.
This year we have decided to train seriously for the half marathon. In the past, I would jump in half marathons as training type runs, but have never been adequately prepared for one. The Half Marathon Championships in April will be different. I respect the distance a lot and am therefore doing all the necessary training to ensure I can run well over the 21.1k distance.
The training itself, has been a lot of meat and potato type work, high volume threshold work – for the past 3 months – just trying to bring my strength to a new level… toughen up these legs of mine!! I started the 13 week build up last Sunday [16th], so things will change a little bit as we bring in some higher quality running and some sharpening races. Mileage will be modest at 90-95 miles [145-150km] to ensure that above all things I stay consistent. As for workouts – it would be tough to nail down a favourite – the 4x4km on short rest are key but so are the 5x1mile… As long as I am running strong, I love it all!
My goal is to win the Championships in Montreal. I don’t want to throw a time goal out there just yet as I still have a good 12 weeks to go…
So far so good. Her “solid build-up racing” has included victories in local, winter road races in Hamilton at the Boxing Day 10 miler [57:22] and in Burlington at the Robbie Burns 8K yesterday [27:37], where it was a crisp -16 degrees celcius. “It was brutal out there!” said Megan immediately after crossing the line. “I just never got warm!” But perhaps this is part of the “toughening-up” and “strength-building” process that could lead to victory on April 17th.
London’s Lanni Marchant is another fine, young, up and coming Canadian female talent now moving towards the roads, who promises to be in the thick of things in Montreal. Currently in Law School at Michigan State, the 26 year old had a breakthrough performance at last October’s Canadian 10K Road Championships at OASIS ZooRun where she ran a PR of 34:40 on the challenging course – good for 3rd place behind only Canadian Olympians Carmen Douma-Hussa and Melindi Elmore. The very next day she dashed back to Michigan to run 1:15:04 in the Detriot Free Press Half Marathon – her debut at the distance! That gave her 2nd place, behind Dayna Pidhoresky. She was again bested by Dayna in a disappointing run at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Guelph on November 27th, where she placed 12th to Dayna’s 2nd, a minute ahead, with Kate Vaughan 6th 33 seconds ahead. Inbetween, however, Lanni gained some good international experience anchoring Team Canada at the Chiba Ekiden. And after a good winter’s training, she will be looking the turn the tables and return to ZooRun form, going well under 1:15 to make her a serious Championship contender.
JOIN Megan, Lanni, Dayna, Kate and 3,000 others at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal on April 17th on the flat, fast course around scenic Iles Ste-Helene and Notre Dame. EARLY BIRD ENTRY DEADLINE, midnight January 31st. Enter Today and save!