Coolsaet, Watson, Loiselle, Smith to race for Canadian Half Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

The picture says it all: Reid Coolsaet after crossing the line at STWM 2010!

 February 14th. This year’s Canadian Half Marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal on April 17th just became a dog fight for the men as well as the women with the announcement that Reid Coolsaet, Rob Watson, Matt Loiselle Andrew Smith will all be on the Start line. With the confirmation of Dayna Pidhoresky, Megan Brown, Kate Vaughan and Lanni Marchant over the past few weeks, it appeared that the spotlight might shine solely on the women’s race this year. But today’s announcement dispels any concerns about a weak men’s contest, andpromises thrills in both races for the 2011 Half marathon Championships.

Although Matt Loiselle returns as defending Champion, Reid Coolsaet will likely toe the line as the pre-race favourite. The 31-year old member of Speed River TFC, has been a 7-time Canadian National  Champion over the last 7 years, at 5,000m, 10,000m and Cross Country. He has impressive PRs of 13:21 and 27:56 for the 5,000m and 10,000m and represented Canada on the men’s marathon squad at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009. But his career really surged forward with his outstanding run at last Fall’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where he clocked a 2:11:23. This was the fastest time ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil, the best time run by a Canadian in two decades, and made him the first Canadian to qualify for an Olympic Marathon since 2000. [The tough London 2012 standard is 2:11:30]. His 10th place finish at STWM 2010 was the 3rd fastest 10th place finish in the world last year — in other words, Reid would have been in the top 10 with his time at every marathon in the world except Paris and Frankfurt. [check out the excellent, major feature in the current Canadian Running magazine, “The Rise of Reid”]. En route to his STWM performance, Reid placed 2nd in the Parkersburg Half marathon in 63:46 over the hills, heat [23 celcius] and humidity of West Virginia in August. As he noted in his blog:

“I raced my first half marathon yesterday in Parkersburg, WV andI have to say that I like the distance.  I ran 63:46 to finish second over the hilly course and I’m already looking forward to running a 1/2 on a fast course.”

He’s hoping Montreal will be it! 

Originally planning to compete as part of Team Canada at this Spring’s Virgin London Marathon [also on April 17th], Reid’s marathon training has been hindered by a nagging, minor injury. London’s loss is our gain as Reid has returned to fitness during a training trip to Kenya, but without sufficient mileage to compete over 42k, he’ll be racing hard in the 21k to add an 8th Championship title.

Rob Watson powers his way to 2010 10K Championship title at Oasis ZooRun last October

 However, Reid’s club-mate Rob Watson, and Athletics Toronto/Brooks Marathon Project’s Matt Loiselle andAndrew Smith are going to guarantee a tough battle to take this year’s Half Marathon crown. A former steeplechaser with a PR of 8:27.09 and a 5000m best of 13:40, Rob has transferred his speed to the roads over the past year. He was Reid’s pacer through 22k at STWM 2010, then went onto take the Canadian 10K Road Championship title at OASIS ZooRun in October, and place 2nd in the National Cross Country Champs in November after leading most of the way. He then made his marathon debut in Houston  two weeks ago. Although a little disappointed with his 2:16:17, Rob went through the half in 65:28, and has recovered mentally as well as physically, keen to hammer forward and do well in Montreal. A notorious front runner, he’ll guarantee a good pace from the gun!

The announcement of Matt Loiselle andAndrew Smith sets up an intriguing battle between the Speed River guys from Guelph and the Brooks Canada Marathon Project guys from Toronto [now part of the new, expanded, Athletics Toronto club]. While Matt and Andrew don’t have quite the speed of the Guelph men, they undoubtedly have the experience, and Matt has performed especially well over the half-marathon distance.

Andrew Smith winning the 2008 Canadian Half marathon Championship in Montreal

  Both Loiselle and Smith are former Half marathon Championship winners on the Montreal course, and know it well — where Coolsaet and Watson will be racing in Parc Jean Drapeau and on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the first time.  

Matt Loiselle loves the half marathon distance and the Montreal course where he is two-time defending champ!

 Andrew ran 65:19 to take the title in 2008. Matt ran a breakthrough 64:10 to win in 2009, and 65:08 to win again last year. He is a tough competitor and Coolsaet and Watson will have to go over him to take the title away from the BCMP camp! With Andrew Smith returning to form after a long injury lay-off, the SRTC vs BCMP battle will be a totally intriguing contest between the stars of Canada’s top two distance training centres.

It’s a DON”T MISS! You can still sign up to race or run from the same start line as our Canadian stars in arguably the best-ever Canadian half marathon field on April 17th. ENTER TODAY while places are still available!

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