Coolsaet, Gillis, Watson select Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront as their Fall 2011 “Olympic qualifying” marathon.

  • Canada’s #1, #2, #4 ranked marathoners from Speed River TFC in Guelph announce plans to race for London 2012 standard on Toronto’s flat, fast Waterfront course, October 16th.

GUELPH. March 1st.  Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Rob Watson, Canada’s #1, #2 and #4 ranked marathoners, announced this evening that they will all race the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th as the best place to race for the challenging 2:11:30 Canadian men’s qualifying standard for the London 2012 Games. The announcement was made in conjunction with the “Feet & Fuel” evening held in Guelph tonight, where the athletes appeared in a public forum with their Coach at Guelph’s Speed River TFC, Dave Scott-Thomas, and club consultant on fuelling, Dr. Trent Stellingwerff. 

All smiles! At the Finish Line of Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2010. l to r: Mayor of Toronto, David Miller; Eric Gillis; Reid Coolsaet; John Stanton, President, Running Room; Spyridon Zagaris, Mayor of Marathon, Greece

Reid Coolsaet ran 2:11:23 to get his qualifying time on Toronto Waterfront last Fall. It was the fastest marathon ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil; the fastest marathon by a Canadian in 24 years, and it made him the first Canadian to qualify for an Olympic marathon since 2000. According to Reid:

Scotiabank  Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2010 was definitely one of my most positive running experiences ever. Achieving one of my best performances so close to home and in front of a Canadian crowd was amazing. The flat course and great weather made for fast times across the board. Toronto Waterfront is a great course and it feels like a ‘home course’ having grown up in Hamilton and training in Guelph. It felt very familiar and the crowd was very supportive. This year I’d like to move up from my 10th place finish from 2010 and, of course, improve my time. If things go according to plan I will be aiming for a sub 2:10 on October 16th.

Last September, teammate Eric Gillis was just behind Reid, running 2:12:08, missing the Olympic standard by a tantalizing 39 seconds. Despite this, Eric was pleased with his race, his strong finish, and the confidence it built in him.

My experience at the STWM was awesome! I hold high praise for the organizers and volunteers, they put on a truly world class marathon. The fun atmosphere surrounding Scotia Toronto Waterfront was relaxing and enjoyable to be part of. This all helped me to have a great race.  
Almost immediately, I said I have to come back. The fact this great race takes place practically in my back yard – I want to take advantage of this. The local support was really beneficial last year, and not having to travel is an added perk.  

When asked about his goals for this year, Eric replied: “On a bad day, I’m shooting for A standard [sub 2:11:30]; and the Canadian Record [2:10:09] on a good one.”

Rob Watson finishes his marathon debut at Houston in January 2011; 2:16:17

 Rob  Watson, knick-named “the Destroyer” for his aggressive front-running, was also involved in the success of STWM2010, but in a supporting, team role. He paced Reid Coolsaet through the first half at the race, which gave him a feel for the course, the big-marathon atmosphere, and the pace. He then went onto capture the Canadian 10K Road Race Championships for himself at Oasis ZooRun 3 weeks later.  

Waterfront last Fall was a fantastic experience.  Reid had an amazing day and it was cool to be a part of that.  The crowd support and energy out there in Toronto was just
phenomenal. That run really got me excited about the Marathon.

Like Eric Gillis last year, he made his marathon debut as a starter in Houston this January 31st, showing great potential as he passed the halfway mark in 65:08, before having a lonely, tough, second-half, fading to a 2:16:17 finish:

 Even though I hit the wall at 20 miles and didn’t quite run as well as I
wanted to, I have fallen in love with the event.  There is nothing else like it,
the training for the marathon is so much fun and the actual race was a blast. 
It hurts so bad, but with that pain you know you are pushing your body to its
limits and that is a great feeling.

When questioned about his choice of running Toronto Waterfront, Rob said:

The experience last year was so positive, and to have the opportunity to run
in a world-class event on our home soil is just the ideal setup.  Why wouldn’t
we all run STWM?

I hope that I can compete well and finish strong.  The guys in this race are
fast as hell and they’re excellent competitors. If I can just get out there and
stick my nose in with them for 42.2km, then the times will be fast and the
results will be positive.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Race Director Alan Brookes was also on hand for the “Feet & Fuel” discussions this evening.

“To say we are thrilled with the commitment by Reid, Eric, Rob, would be more than a mild understatement. We’re over the moon!  They could have gone to so many world-marathons, but the fact they chose to race Toronto Waterfront, with all the Olympic qualifying chips on the line, is a testimony to the quality of the race.  It’s also GREAT for not just the event but the sport in Canada. To have Canadian guys – the best we’ve had in 20 years – battling it out, head-to-head, on Toronto’s Waterfront, for the honour of wearing a Canadian vest in London will be enormously exciting. We know there will be a huge crowd out cheering for the guys on October 16th, and our team will go more than an extra mile to do everything we possibly can to support them, and give them every hometown advantage.

 Scotiabank have also confirmed that they are offering a bonus of $1,000 for every year that Jerome Drayton’s 2:10:09 national record has stood, for the first person to break it. Dratyon set his enduring mark at Japan’s Fukuoka Marathon in December 1975 – before Coolsaet, Gillis or Watson were born! That means that as well as racing for the Olympic standard and punching a ticket to London, a new Canadian national marathon  record holder could walk away with $36,000 in addition to some of the $151,000 prize purse.

How do the Speed River trio feel about their prospects? According to Rob Watson:  

I don’t think the record will survive past Oct 16th. I don’t know who will take
it down. But I think that with the field of Canadians the race is assembling, and everything that is on the line, that time has a very good chance of falling.

Reid Coolsaet is also sticking with his prediction made early last year, that 2011 is the year Drayton’s long-standing mark will go down. “All eyes will be on Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this Fall,” said Brookes. “And we’re working very hard to deliver “live” television and broadband coverage to make the race accessible to as many Canadians and international viewers as possible. However, there’s no substitute for being there!”

Registration is now open for runners of all levels to sign up to be part of the 20,000+ crowd at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 2011, who will come from every Canadian province, 40+ American states and 40+ countries, on October 16th. Enter today at www.stwm.ca

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