June 25th. When I wrote a couple of day’s ago about Dylan Wykes and the Men’s race at tomorrow’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon I said it promised to be “particularly absorbing”. At a VIP Breakfast this morning I went even further saying it will be perhaps our best-ever men’s race in 13 years at SVHM, because of the strong, deep Canadian content – and some great head-to-head match ups as folks begin training in earnest to win places for London 2012. Not to be outdone, I think the Women’s contest promises to be equally intriguing, if in a different way. Though the quality of the Women’s race will not perhaps be as strong, the story-line is equally attention-grabbing. It might be summed up in one name: Keddi-Anne Sherbino.
Who the heck is Keddi-Anne?! The 21-year old “newbie” from Tsawwassen burst onto the scene last Fall when she won the Okanagan Marathon in 2:53:35, her debut at the distance. She made that 2-for-2 with a victory at the Vancouver Marathon on May 1st, in 2:43:38 – lopping 10 minutes off her Okanagan time. The self-coached recreational runner, student and kick-boxer from South Delta has been described as everything from “an exciting new talent”, “a phenomenal runner” with “unlimited potential” to someone resembling Forrest Gump! The Vancouver 2:43 was apparently her first race running without her headphones and iPod. Is she for real?
Tomorrow’s Scotia Half will be Keddi-Anne’s first major race with some real competition. Defending champ Lisa Harvey of Calgary will be on the line, an experienced veteran and former Canadian Olympian who took last year’s contest in 1:17:46, after placing 2ndthe previous 3 years, including a 1:15:45 clocking in 2007. She’ll be joined by another experienced contender in Toronto’s Josiane Aboungono – the 2010 overall Canada Running Series women’s champion. With a 1:18:03 PR run at the April Fool’s Half Marathon on the Sunshine Coast this Spring, Keddi-Anne may have her work cut out to get by these two vets.
Perhaps even tougher competition is likely to come from 3 more rising young talents, Newfoundland’s 26-year old Kate Vaughan, Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak, and Toronto’s Jane Cullis (Kate had to scratch from the 21k de Montreal with an injury, but is now coming back to fitness). Vaughan really came to our attention when she trounced Lisa Harvey to win the “Telly Ten” in her hometown of St. John’s last July, in the 3rdfastest women’s time ever at Newfoundland’s #1 road race (56:36), and the fastest women’s time there in 25 years. She followed that up with a strong performance at the National 10K Road Race Championships at OASIS ZooRun in Toronto last October where she ran 35:01 for 4th. Friend and rival Wodak was 16 seconds back in 5th. A month later, Natasha turned the tables at the National Cross Country Championships where, in a furious battle, she out-kicked Kate in a sprint to the line on a cold, snowy day in Guelph for 5th & 6th in the country. They went at it again in Calgary last night, at the National Track & Field Championships, where Kate placed 3rd in the 5,000m in 17:05 with Natasha 5thin 17:28. (Natasha also ran an impressive 34:01 for 3rd at this year’s SunRun). Will some of that 5,000m still be in their legs, plus a little travel fatigue tomorrow – enough for Keddi-Anne to get by them? Meanwhile, Jane Cullis, now training under Nicole Stevenson in Toronto, is coming of a PR victory of 1:16:44 at the GoodLife Half marathon in Toronto last month — a 5 minute PR!
To be sure, this is a long way off the 1:12:09 that Tara Quinn-Smith ran at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal in 2009, for a new Canadian women’s half marathon record; and even more distant than the marvellous 1:05:50 that Mary Keitany ran to set a new World Record in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in February of this year. But tomorrow there will be some depth and a competitive women’s race. And there is already a story. Will Keddi-Anne continue to rise to the occasion, or will some of the other rising young Canadian talents or veterans take her out to the woodshed?
Again, I’ll give a FREE entry to any upcoming CRs event to anyone who can give me the correct order of the Top 5 Women’s finishers tomorrow morning…
Stay tuned! Start at UBC at 07h00 Pacific time. I’ll be Tweeting from the lead vehicle. Follow me down to Stanley Park at www.twitter.com/alnbrookes
Complete Elite Start List: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/svhm/extras/svhm11-elite-starting-list.pdf
Good luck to EVERYONE in the record field of over 6,211 in combined 21k & 5k (4,815 in the half; 1,396 in the 5K) — including CRS’ very own Charlotte Brookes from the Toronto office, taking her second run at the 21k distance. The forecast is looking good. We’ll have a show!