Ed Whitlock & Simon Bairu put Canadian distance running on World stage again today; onto Montreal!

Ed all smiles after his 2:58:40 at Rotterdam 2005

 TORONTO. April 10th. New octogenarian Ed Whitlock and our 10,000m national record holder, Simon Bairu, put Canadian distance running on the world stage again today, and continued the tremendous momentum we have for 2011. The way it’s shaping up, it could be the best year ever, and “a year-to-remember”. Ed returned to Rotterdam where he’d run a 2:58 in 2005, and smashed the M80-84 World Record by 14 minutes this morning. Regina’s Simon Bairu beat a field of 45,000 runners for a comfortable win at the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago in 23:38.

Ed Whitlock turned 80 on March 6th, and is already well on his way to re-writing the record books over the next decadeas he did with 11 world records in his 70s. Always a man who likes and supports familiar, well-organized races, Ed returned to Rotterdam this weekend — a trip we had made together in 2005. On “a sunny but slightly warm and windy day. This IAAF Silver Label road race was won by Kenyan Wilson Chebet in 2:05:27,” writes Race Results Weekly’s David Monti from New York. This no doubt hindered attempts to chase the current World Record of 2:03:59 and the $350,000 bonus the race put up as an incentive. But it didn’t deter Ed! His wife Brenda wrote me a short while ago:   

“Clever old soul isn’t he considering he had been very sick for a week before he left with a seriously bad cold (the first he had for about ten years) so I personally wasn’t confident he would even finish.   So I was relieved to see that he tottered through it.”

“Blistered” might be a better word than tottered! As David Monti concluded his release today:  

“Race director Mario Kadiks did manage to have a world record on the day, however.  Canada’s Ed Whitlock, 80 years-old, ran a spectacular 3:25:43 (3:25:40 net) to smash the world 80-84 record of 3:39:18 set by Australia’s Robert Horman at Brisbane in 1998.”

Simon Bairu after his victory in the Canadian 10K Championships at Oasis ZooRun 2009

 Three and a half hours after Ed crossed the line in The Netherlands, Regina’s Simon Bairu dusted a crowd of 45,000 at the Bank Of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago, for his first race of the Spring. According to Simon, “It was a very relaxed effort. Led from the gun. Good early season run!”

Reid Coolsaet finishing up his 62:42 PR at NYC Half

 This comes on the heels of Dylan Wykes’ and Reid Coolsaet’s PRs of 62:14 and 62:42 and their 11th and 13th place finishes in a strong international field at the NYC Half  on March 20th. There, they raced with current and former NYC Marathon Champions like Gebre Gebremarian, Marilson Gomes Dos Santos and Meb Keflezghi [watch Reid's account of his NYC race]. They both beat Meb, Ryan Hall and all the Americans except Galen Rupp, to make a statement on the current, internationally-competitive level of Canadian distance running.

And all of them — Ed, Simon, Dylan, Reid [also check Speed River TFC video clip of announcement]– will bring 2011 to a climax when they are all on the same stage at home in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th (see Ed, Reid, Eric and more in STWM2010 highlights video).

Ed spoke of his 2011 goals at a birthday partyheld for him last month at The Marriott hotel in Toronto, and particularly of his marathon plans for Rotterdam and Scotia Toronto Waterfront.

“The plan is to run somewhat conservatively [in Rotterdam] ( I hope I’ve got the required discipline – particularly as I will be somewhat short on training background). I hope I’ll be between  3:20 and 3:30 if all goes well. Then I will have the opportunity to be more aggressive at Toronto Waterfront – somewhere in the 3:10 to 3:20 range. Or, if disaster strikes, I will have a second chance at the Waterfront. That’s the plan.”

(also read Amby Burfott’s excellent Interview with Ed in Friday’s Runners World online)

In the meantime, the racing season is JUST getting into full swing and there is the prospect of a veritable feast at Canadian races across the country, throughout the year. With the international standard of our top distance runners now, there will surely be some fine performances and great head-to-head battles to savour.

Matt Loiselle (left) battling Josephat Ongeri en route to his 64:10 PR and Canadian title in Montreal, 2009

 The beat continues this next weekend with the Canadian Half marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal and at the Vancouver Sun Run 10K . In Montreal, Reid Coolsaet will battle defending champion Matt Loiselle from Athletics’ Toronto — who Coach Dave Reid says is also coming into fine form. Matt ran 65:08 and 64:10 to take the National Championships in Montreal the past two years, and he had an impressive early season 44:44 at the Gate River Run 15K on March 12th. He is particularly strong at the 15k to 21k distance, so watch for a good battle there.  Around the Bay winner, Derek Nakluski from Kitchener, plus Loiselle’s team-mates Andrew Smith (2008 Half marathon Champion in 65:19), Lucas McAneney and Rejean Chiasson, plus Montreal’s Bagdad Rachem and Said Ali-Haji should round out a very nice, deep and competitive pack.  

Megan Brown looking strong at 2010 Harry's Spring Run off 8K in High Park

 On the Women’s side, Athletics’ Toronto’s Megan Brown gives the promise of some great things to come — perhaps in the marathon in 2012. Finally clear of her struggles with Lymes disease, she’s training professionally in Toronto under Hugh Cameron, and her 50:49 at the Gate River 15K last month, good for 5th place in a tough USA Championship field, shows she has the stuff. To take the Canadian Half marathon crown, the 25-year old will have to get by another fine young talent in Windsor’s Dayna Pidhoresky. Just 23 years old, Pidhoresky came from nowhere to run 1:13:15 at the Detroit Half last October – -then placed 2nd in the National Cross in November. To show this was no fluke, she’s begun 2011 with victories at Around the Bay 30K and Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K. The 2nd and 3rd place women from Around the Bay, Lanni Marchant and Emiily Kroshus will also be on the start line in Montreal. Together, they offer the clear evidence that we are developing some women’s depth to go with the men’s — it’s just that they are at the 10K and half marathon stage of the pipeline right now. Both Brown and Pidhoresky have announced marathon debut aspirations for next year.

On the same day, next Sunday 17th, Dylan Wykes and Eric Gillis will do battle at the Vancouver Sun Run 10K.

Then Toronto fans will have the chance to see Reid Coolsaet at the Sporting Life Toronto 10K on May 1st,where he’ll be in tough against Lethbridge’s Kenyan-Canadian duo of Willy Kimosop [last year's SLT10K winner in 28:55] and Kip Kangogo.

That’s it for now folks! It’s been quite a day. Up a 3am to watch Paris Marathon [where STWM2010 4th place finisher, Koren Yal came 3rd], then chasing the action and stories ever since.

Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal start, 2010: showing Matt Loiselle & Bagdad Rachem on far right

I’m off to London on Tuesday, and will be tweeting and reporting from there…. wishing I could be in Montreal!! Will be getting regular updates from our CRS Team in Montreal, that will include Thelma Wright from Athletics Canada, Coach Dave Reid and a record crowd of close to 4,000 on the Start lines. There are still around 150 places left for the 21K, with online registration open until midnight tomorrow at: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/monthalf_en/index.htm

YOU’RE INVITED!

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