- Watson, Wykes, Gillis; Elmore, Pidhoresky, Brown confirmed
TORONTO. September 6th. With the IAAF World Championships in Daegu and Labour Day behind us, the Fall running season promises to open with a bang two weeks from Saturday, as the Canada Running Series resumes with a battle for the Athletics Canada National 10K Road Race Championships at OASIS ZooRun. This will be the third year that the Championships have been hosted by CRS at the Toronto Zoo. A sell out crowd of 2,300 will be on hand for the 10K, with another 1,350 in the accompanying ZooRun 5K and 350 in the “CubRun” for kids.
This year’s preliminary Start List promises some thrilling competition in both the Men’s and Women’s competitions for the much-coveted 10K crowns. The men’s race offers a fine tussle between last year’s defending Champion, Rob Watson of the Speed River TFC in Guelph, his teammate Eric Gillis, and last year’s runner-up, Dylan Wykes of Vancouver. Gillis is currently Canada’s #2 ranked marathon and Wykes #3. All three men have some high mileage in their legs, preparing for a shot at the Olympic Qualifying Standard [2:11:30] at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th– but ZooRun will be important for some last-minute sharpening, and to establish some head-to-head pecking order going into the Waterfront duel. Both Gillis and Wykes have developed strongly since last Fall, while Watson has had some setbacks. The defending 10K champion made his marathon debut in Houston in January – a solid 2:16:17 effort, but not perhaps where he had hoped to be. Since then, he’s had some niggling injury issues. The results have shown in another solid but not outstanding performance at the Scotia Vancouver Half marathon [3rdin 64:20] in June and a DNF at Acura Toronto 10 miler, with hamstring problems last month. In contrast, Gillis and Wykes have made marked progress. Selecting his races carefully, Gillis – who represented Canada at the 10,000m in the Beijing Olympics — has built on his excellent 2:12:08 performance at last September’s Toronto Waterfront. He retained his title at the CRS’ Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K on April 2ndin 24:20, before becoming the first Canadian to win the prestigious Vancouver SunRun 10K since 1998 (29:06), on April 17th. On May 1st he narrowly lost in a sprint to the line at the Sporting Life Toronto 10K, against club-mate Reid Coolsaet; was 2ndagain only to Coolsaet at the Acura Toronto 10 miler [48:34 & 49:01], and was one place behind Coolsaet in 6that the Rock ‘n Roll Virginia Beach Half this past Sunday [63:16 to 63:34]. (read Paul Gains in-depth recent interview with Eric, discussing his build-up to STWM, includingZooRun). Similarly, Wykes moved on from his defeat by Watson at last year’s 10K Championship with a breakthrough 2:12:39 marathon in Sacramento in December. He followed that up with a superb 62:14 in the New York City Half marathon in April, beating Reid Coolsaet, Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezghi and a long list of international notables.
If the men’s race promises intrigue, the women’s battle for the National 10K honours promises to be mouth-watering. It features “the rubber match” between new road racers: Dayna Pidhoresky of Windsor, ON and Megan Brown of Athletics Toronto. (For a little background on Dayna see earlier Blog. For Megan & Lanni background see Blog). Throw in the 2009 champ and last year’s runner-up, Malindi Elmore from Kelowna, London’s Lanni Marchant [3rdlast year], and Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak [5thin both 2009 & 2010] and we have a RACE! The 24 year-old Pidhoresky burst onto the road-racing scene last Fall with a surprise 1:13:15 victory in the Detroit Half marathon. This year she’s had victories at Hamilton’s famous Around the Bay 30K, and is sweeping the Canada Running Series with victories at Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8K [27:42], the Sporting Life Toronto 10K [33:02], and the Acura Toronto 10 miler [56:32]. On August 27th she ran an impressive 3rdplace at the Crim 10 miler in Flint, Michigan. Her 55:26 was only 11 seconds behind winner Everlyn Lagat of Kenya, and 7 seconds behind legend Catherine “The Great” Ndereba, building some international experience. Her only major disappointment came in the Canadian Half marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal on April 17th– where she was soundly beaten by the 25 year old Brown [74:09 to 75:04]. The much-touted re-match at the Acura race never materialized – as Brown dropped out early feeling the effects of a cold, and Pidhoresky cruised to victory – setting up the 2011 “rubber-match” at the Zoo! Both will have to battle experienced veteran Malindi Elmore, a 2004 Olympian with track speed at 5000m and 10,000m, plus Marchant and Wodak, to take the title.
The OASIS ZooRun 10K will also double as the 2011 TIMEX National Road Race Series Finals, which is guaranteed to add further quality and depth to an already impressive line-up, attracting the best regional runners from coast-to-coast.
A complete Championships and Race Start List will be posted next week.