Malindi Elmore, Willy Kimosop all set to defend titles, as CRS2011 opens at Harry’s Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K.

Malinidi Elmore cruising to victory at 2010 Harry's Spring Run Off 8k Vancouver, 2010

 VANCOUVER. March 16th.  Malindi Elmore and Willy Kimosop are all set to defend their titles at Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K this Sunday, “Opening Day” for the 2011 Canada Running Series season.  The 5th edition of the loop-course takes off from Lumberman’s Arch at 10am, passing through world-famous Stanley Park and parts of the majestic Stanley Park Seawall.  More than 1,000 participants are expected to toe the line, for fitness as well as fast times, and the target of $150,000 to be raised for Prostate Cancer Research at VGH is expected to be surpassed.

Kamloops’ Malindi Elmore and Lethbridge’s Willy Kimosop enter this year’s event as pre-race favourites as well as defending champs. Elmore celebrated her birthday last Sunday and is hoping for a belated present and a hard-earned $1,000 for the victory. The 31-year-old Kamloops resident has been a leader in Canadian athletics over the past decade. She represented the country with fine, top 25 performances at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2004 and 2006, and in the 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She has been a prominent athlete representative to Athletics Canada and in promoting Canadian Athletes NOW fundraising. After 5 years at Stanford and 6 years training in Calgary, she is now “back home” living and training in Kamloops. Over the last two years, she has begun to turn to road racing, as well as maintaining her track career. In October 2009, she won the AC Canadian 10K Road Championships in Toronto at OASIS ZooRun (a CRS event). She followed that up with a victory at last April’s Vancouver SunRun in 33:06. Following that, she declared some of her affinity for the roads in an interview with Christopher Kelsall:

I love road running for … the energy of participating with the mass of people. And I am always inspired that people are out trying to run personal bests, or win an age group, or finish a 10km, or walk, or run in someone’s honour. Road racing is also more about competing and less about exact time and splits and just about running hard against other people. That being said, yes, I would love to run a sub 33-minute 10km on the roads!

She also noted in her blog last August:

Since April I have raced three 800s, seven 1500s, a 3000m, and a 5000m.  I also ran the SunRun 10 km and a couple other 5km road races earlier in the year.  Changing the race distances frequently this year is beneficial to me in several ways.  It keeps me excited and fresh as each race provides something to focus on; whether it is speed (800m) or getting through it (5000m track or 10 km road).  Sometimes running the same event week after week can lead to mental and physical stagnation.

Does this mean that Malindi is gearing up for a second career in Canadian road racing? Perhaps… but it’s not in the immediate future. When Canada Running Series chased her in January, to have her attempt the National Half Marathon Championships in Montreal on April 17th she replied:

I am in New Mexico right now at a training camp.  The plan is to run really fast this year and next on the track in the 1500 and 5000m. I really want to run some PBs and try to break through to sub 4/15.  After 2012 Olympics I would certainly consider some longer road racing as I am also intrigued about what I could do with a proper distance focus.  I ran a half marathon as a tempo run on holiday in New Zealand in December (it was actually the run leg of a half ironman) and it felt really good to get into the groove, so I started to get excited about doing one…but not this year or next!

So Canada Running Series and Harry’s SRO Vancouver 8K will enjoy one of her cameo appearances this Sunday, and hope it gets her more pumped about the roads. To retain her crown, she’ll have to get by a strong local contingent led by Burnaby’s Kristina Rody, Port Moody’s Natasha Wodak, and Katherine Moore.  Rody was second to Elmore in last year’s Spring Run Off (27:34 to 26:49); Wodak, who recently represented Canada in the NACAC Cross Country Championships in Trinidad, was 5thin last year’s race (28:15), and is hoping to move up. Another former Canadian Olympian and leader in the sport, Lisa Harvey of Calgary will also be back, hoping  to recapture her Master’s  title that she gave up to Marilyn Arsenault last year.

Willy Kimosop jubilant in winning 2010 Sporting Life Toronto 10K in a comfortable 28:55

 Like Malindi Elmore, Willy Kimosop will also be tough to beat this Sunday. The 24 year old is in his 4thyear as a Kenyan student in Exercise Studies at Lethbridge College. The native of Kabarnet has won the last 3 Canadian Colleges Cross Country titles, including the 2010 edition in record-setting time in Fredericton in November. Venturing onto the roads as well, he has won the SunRun in 2009, and placed 3rd there last Spring. In the Canada Running Series he won the fast, Sporting Life Toronto 10K in 28:55 last May, and was 4thin Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon in 2009 and 3rdin the 2010 edition.  At last year’s Harry’s Spring Run Off, he completed the scenic  8K course in 23:43 – edging Kingston’s Dylan Wykes  by just 2 seconds. With Wykes off at the New York City Half marathon this weekend, Willy’s main threats and BC honour will come from Abbotsford’s David Jackson [5thin last year’s race in 25:09] and Langley’s Steve Osadiuk. A good tussle for the Men’s Master’s title is in the offing, with Kingston’s 47-year-old phenomenon Steve Boyd set take on a strong BC contingent led by Kevin O’Connor, Mark Bennett, Mark Bomba, Graham Wilson and Art Boileau.

With the promise of a let up to the deluge of rain lately, Sunday’s Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K to fight prostate cancer is all set to go in sunshine, some cloudy skies, temperatures between 5 and 11 celcius and only the hint of a breeze. Walk-up entries will all be accepted: on Friday [4pm to 6pm] and Saturday [10am to 4pm] at the Denman Street Running Room; and on race day at Lumberman’s Arch, from 8:30am to 9:45am. Details:  http://www.canadarunningseries.com/spring8k/sroREG.htm#pickup     

For a complete Calendar and more information on Canada running Series 2011 – a Selection of Canada’s Best Runs, see http://www.canadarunningseries.com/crs/index.htm

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