Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon, MEN’S Preview: Dylan Wykes & the road to Olympic glory starts this weekend, and runs through Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon (October 16th) to London 2012.

June 23rd. As I noted in “Alan’s Journal” in today’s CRS Newsletter, we’ve passed the Summer solstice, and the “great divide”. I’m back from my trip to the centre of the world [Equator] at the Quito Ultimas Noticias 15K,and at home in Canada, the Spring season is now well and truly done. We’re moving to Summer and Fall training and racing, goals and dreams. And I think it’s fair to say that for a bunch of our new Canadian road running stars, the road to the future kick-starts this weekend with the Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon – race #5 in CRS 2011.

This is certainly true for Canada’s #3 ranked men’s marathoner, Dylan Wykes, who is racing on Sunday morning. As I wrote in aFacebook post yesterday, “The road to STWM & Olympic Glory for Dylan Wykes starts this weekend at Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon? How will Dylan do? Are you running/racing SVHM? Have you started YOUR training for October 16th yet??”

Dylan Wykes in flight at OASIS ZooRun, National 10K Road Championships last Fall

 “Canadians aren’t tourists anymore. My training in Vancouver has really helped take me to the next level,” Dylan told me in an interview I did with him at Ottawa Race Weekend, before he concluded his Spring season in the ORW 10K on Saturday evening, May 28th. [see the VIDEOs. Part 1 & Part 2 ].  Dylan spoke of his new training, his new confidence that has elevated him [along with other Canadians] to an internationally competitive level. He reviewed his Spring season, that built on his 2:12:39 marathon in Sacramento last December, and included HUGE PRs in the New York City Half marathon [62:14] where he beat the likes of Meb and Ryan Hall, and was only 51 seconds back of Marilson Gomes Dos Santos who then ran 2:06:34 in London in April; and an impressive 28:12 PR for 10,000m on the track at Stanford the beginning of May.  

Dylan’s ORW 10K didn’t go so well (30:18), but it was at the very end of his Spring campaign and an opportunity to test his new frontiers. As he told me post-race, “I went for broke tonight, and I broke!” after chasing the always eyeballs-out Deriba Merga through a 2:36 first kilometre, 5:16 at 2km, and 8:04 at 3km!! Dylan wrote in yesterday’s blog:

I enjoyed a little ‘break’ after the Ottawa 10k. It was a long (maybe a race or two too long) season of road and track racing. So I gave my body a few days off and then a week of easy running, before starting back into workouts. I spent some time at home with family and friend, ate my fair share of crap, and drank my fair share of beer.

I’ve been training relatively hard again for about 10-14 days. I’m having a bit of trouble getting my legs back under me which should make this weekend’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon interesting. I might surprise myself or it might be a complete death march. Only time will tell.

I’m heading out to Vancouver tomorrow, and am definitely pumped about the race, intrigued to follow the progress of Dylan and a whole bunch of other Canucks, and be there as we start out on the road to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and London 2012.

The Men’s contest will be particularly absorbing. Dylan begins his 15 week training programme for STWM on July 4th[watch interview]. The #1 & #2 ranked Reid Coolsaet & Eric Gillis are in Calgary to kick-start their Fall drive to STWM with 10,000m on the track at the Athletics Canada “Nationals” T&F Championships (see yesterday’s CP VIDEO interview with Reid: “Marathoner sets his sights on London Olympics). But a bunch of the national marathon “B squad” will be on the line at UBC in Vancouver to challenge Wykesey, maybe take a scalp, build their confidence, and put themselves in a good position for an outside chance at an Olympic Marathon place in the “trials” race on October 16th. (apologies to anyone who takes offense at being placed on current B squad!).

Matt Loiselle (right) pushes the early pace at Banque Scotia 21K de montreal with Reid Coolsaet

As an opposite to Dylan, Matt Loiselle from Athletics Toronto/BCMP ran a poor marathon (2:19:03 at STWM) last Fall, and had a strong outing at ORW 10K. He was also 2ndCanadian to Reid Coolsaet at the National Half Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal in April. I was also able to catch up with Matt at the Finish area of the ORW10K, and it clearly helped his confidence to have run a smart race, beat Dylan and Simon Bairu, and only get out-kicked by Eric Gillis to be just 5 seconds adrift of an Olympian and a 2:12 man. [watch interview on YouTube]. Insider scoop tells me that Matt has been doing some very good workouts lately, and we know he’s a proven performer over the half marathon.

Lethbridge’s Kenyan Landed Immigrant, Kip Kangogo, who won SVHM 2010 and pushed Coolsaet and Gillis to a fabulous sprint Finish to Sporting Life Toronto 10K on May 1st [see GREAT video] will also be on the line Sunday to defend his title.

Speed River TFC, the other major high-performance group in Canada [in addition to Hugh Cameron’s AT/BCMP group in Toronto and Richard Lee’s group in Vancouver with Dylan], will be represented by Rob Watson – “The Destroyer” and another front-runner. The training partner of Coolsaet & Gillis, Rob was  hoping to run a similar marathon time to them when he made his debut at Houston in January. Like Matt, he found the 42k to be a challenging beast, gave it a 110% but ran a tough 2:16:17 [see story]. Since then, Rob’s had some injury challenges, so like Dylan, he’s really just starting back into things in earnest as he begins his training for STWM.  As Rob blogged on Monday:

I’m headed to Vancouver for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon. I’m pretty excited for this race. I have never run a half marathon and I think my fitness is coming around decently. This race is part of the Canada Running Series and those dudes always put on a top notch event. 1000km June had been abandoned in order to focus on sharpening up for this half. But for the record, as of June 15th I was hammering 1000km June, it was gonna be conquered for sure. But I guess the reason for doing all this hard training is so that I can race fast, so I might as well be somewhat fresh for this sucker. I don’t really have a time goal, I just wanna beat some people and make it hurt.

http://leblogdurob.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-38.html

Throw in Loiselle’s noticeably-improving teammate Rejean Chiasson [66:14 in Montreal; 29:54at Sporting Life Toronto 10K; 30:06 at ORW 10K]; Kangogo’s junior training partner Willy Kimosop [3rdat SVHM 2010 in 67:39]; and Montreal’s Bagdad Rachem [66:47 at Niagara Half last Fall; 29:40 at Sporting Life Toronto 10K; 2:24:34 at ORW Marathon May 26th]; and Sunday’s SVHM Men’s race is filled with intrigue and the promise of a super contest with depth. It also speaks loudly of the depth we’re building on the distance running scene in our country, what excitement it brings to the running scene, and how CRS is in the thick of it all! Any of you brave enough to make a top 5, “Pick to Win” call for the men’s race on Sunday? I’ll throw in a FREE entry to any future CRS race for the person who comes closest.  

Athletics Toronto/BCMPs improving Rejean Chiasson at Banque Scotia 21K de montreal in April

While Sunday’s Women’s race at SVHM isn’t perhaps as deep, it also has some very interesting match-ups and stories of developing athletes like Keddi-Anne Sherbino from Tsawwassen (or is it Delta or Kelowna?), Natasha Wodak, Kate Vaughan and Jane Cullis. Who IS Keddi-Anne Sherbino?? Rather than just an appendage to the men’s race, it’s well worth a separate post. I’ll aim for tomorrow on that!

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the Men’s Master’s battle on tap for Sunday. A dandy! A classic! Pride of Vancouver [in addition to Wykesey] in Kevin O’Connor vs. King of the East, & defending CRS Men’s Masters champ, Rich Minichiello of Ottawa. One look at the VFAC 2011 rankings tells the tale for “Super K”: 5K in 15:25; 8K in 25:40; 10K in 31:41; Half in 69:59. As VFAC posted after Harry’s SRO Vancouver in March: “On a beautiful almost spring day, Kevin O’Connor might want to consider a full time running grandfather career, after picking up $450 cash as 1st master and 4th overall in a VFAC Masters record of 25:40.”  

But will this be enough to hold off Minichiello – 32:16 on a humid evening at ORW 10K, and 31:08 at Sporting Life Toronto 10K this Spring? This one’s worth the price of admission on its own!

Complete START LISTS at http://www.canadarunningseries.com/svhm/extras/svhm11-elite-starting-list.pdf

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