TORONTO. September 24th. It FELT like a special day at Toronto Zoo today, for Canada Running Series’ Oasis ZooRun, that doubled as the Athletics Canada National 10K Road Race Championships and the Timex National Series Grand Finale. From the moment dawn broke with sunny skies, after a day of monsoon-like rains, there was a buzz, a palpable excitement in the air. And it lived up to AC’s pre-race hype as “the best 10K Championships in recent history.”
Reid Coolsaet of Guelph’s Speed River TFC(29:35) and Dayna Pidhoresky of Tecumseh, ON, (33:45) finally emerged as convincing National Champions, after doing battle with most of the country’s best, in a sold-out crowd of 2,634. Another 1,369 participants ran the accompanying 5K, and 362 kids — including lions, bats, zebras, bees and crocodiles vying for “best costume” awards — did the CubRun, bringing a record 4,365 participants to the Zoo.
The 10K took off at 8:15am under sunny skies and pleasant 13 degree weather. There was virtually no breeze, though conditions were a little humid. As well as being the National 10K Championships, the race served as a tune up for most of the contending male combatants in the upcoming Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th. So, while most of the guys had a fair number of 200-220 km weeks in their legs, the race was as an important test of fitness AND an indication of ranking as they head for the Olympic-qualifying marathon in 3 weeks. From the Start, Coolsaet and team-mate Eric Gillis[Canada’s #1 & #2 ranked marathoners] took charge and a lead pack of 6 quickly detached itself from the field. By 5K, the order was set, with the Speed River pair in command at the front in 14:30, with Oakville’s Giitah Macharia, Hamilton’s Josephat Ongeri, Vancouver’s Dylan Wykes and SRTFCsRob Watson strung out behind but still in contact. In the end, Coolsaet showed his stuff to take his 4th national title of the year, 29:35 to 29:42 over Gillis. The SRTFC pair sent a clear message to the rest of the Waterfront Marathon contenders, finishing more than half a minute clear of Kenyan Ongeri (30:13), Macharia (30:13), Wykes (30:20) and Watson (30:24). It will be treat if the pair can race together in similar fashion in 3 weeks as they chase places in London 2012 and Drayton’s 36 year old national marathon record of 2:10:09.
In the battle for the Women’s crown, Dayna Pidhoresky was content to let Athletics Toronto’s Megan Brown do most of the early work. Megan took it out hard, and hit 5K in 16:18, with Dayna a couple of metres back in 16:18. At this point, Kelowna’s Malindi Elmore was just hanging on in third (16:25) and looking rough. Brown continued to battle and hold off Pidhoresky through 7km, but was unable to fend her off in the final stages and the Windsor grad moved away decisively after 8K to cap off a splendid debut season on the roads, with an 11 second victory and a deserving Championship title. Combined, Pidhoresky and Brown have been the class of 2011, and were clearly so again today. Together, they now share the two National road race titles: Dayna with the 10K and Megan with the Half marathon inMontreal on April 17th [where Dayna was 2nd, a minute back, and visibly disappointed]. Dayna has also notched 2011 victories at Around the Bay 30K, and in the Canada Running Series at Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8K, the Sporting Life Toronto 10K, and the Acura Toronto 10 miler. In many senses this was the “rubber match” between the two, and it did not disappoint. With them both promising to move up to the marathon in 2012, we have a lot to look forward too. Malindi Elmore faded but hung tough to take the bronze medal in 35:26, with London’s Lanni Marchant 4th in 34:59, and Regina’s Bevin Kennelly doing well to get by a number of higher ranked women for 5th in 35:21.
Full results at CRS website. Unofficially, the Zebra won the “Best Costume” National title in the CubRun, withthe Bat coming a close second.
And some photo highlights on our STWM Facebook page