TORONTO. November 14th. Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton, ON and Dayna Pidhoresky of Tecumseh, ON were announced today as Canada Running Series 2011 Champions. Coolsaet finished the year with 165 points and Pidhoresky with 159. They each take home an additional $2,500 on top of their winnings from individual races this year. Montreal’s Terry Gehl and Calgary’s Lisa Harvey claimed the Masters’ [40+] crowns, each worth an additional $750. Both Coolsaet and Pidhoresky had outstanding seasons in what was a remarkable year for distance running around the world. From Berlin and Frankfurt to Boston, New York, Chicago and Toronto Waterfront, marathon and road racing records for both participation and performance, fell like autumn leaves in a windstorm. Led by Reid and Dayna, Canada Running Series was very much part of this global movement. In its 22ndyear, the Series attracted a record 61,068 participants: up 14% over 2010. The number of official charities in the 8-race Series grew to 238 this year, and charity runners raised a remarkable $6.5 million for these mostly-local causes. But it was the increase in quality as well as quantity that made 2011 stand out. Led by the performances of Coolsaet and Pidhoresky this year, it’s clear that Canada is also enjoying a great renaissance in road racing.
The 31 year-old Coolsaet, who trains with the Speed River TFC in Guelph, came into the 2011 CRS season on a roll, following his impressive 2:11:23 at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last Fall, that captured the country’s attention– the fastest marathon by a Canuck in 24 years – and he never looked back. This year, he went 5 for 5 in his CRS performances. They began in April in a windswept Parc Jean Drapeau at the Banque Scotia 21K de montreal that also doubled as the Athletics Canada National Half marathon Championships. Setting the tone for the year, he swept aside all comers, dusting off Athletics Toronto’s Matt Loiselle around the 13km mark to battle the elements to the finish in 64:55. The plot changed for the Sporting Life Toronto 10K [now the Toronto Yonge Street 10K] on May 1st, where he left things to the last kilometre before outsprinting teammate Eric Gillis and Lethbridge’s Kip Kangogo in a thrilling 800m dash to victory [28:08; Gillis just 1 second back; Kangogo 2 seconds]. [video & story ].
At the Acura Toronto 10 miler he dispatched of Gillis and the rest mid-race, in Tommy Thompson Park to cruise home in a time-trial prep for Scotia Toronto Waterfront [48:34]. The headlines at Oasis ZooRun 10K said it all: “Unbeatable Coolsaet, unstoppable Pidhoresky crown Special Day”, as Reid again dusted the field [29:35] in the second third of the race to add the AC National 10K Championship title to his belt, and underscore his superiority. At Toronto Waterfront, he displayed his growing confidence as well as his talent, in leaving behind the other Canadians to race with the African lead pack. They went through halfway on 2:08 pace [63:58], and Reid boldly hung onto 4-time champ Kenneth Mungara of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Shami Dawit through 30K [1:31:38] and 35k [1:47:08] to finish 3rdoverall in 2:10:55 – -the fastest a Canuck has run a marathon in 35 years, and second all-time to Jerome Drayton’s National Record of 2:10:09. It has undoubtedly earned him a trip to the London 2012 Olympics, and was a fitting triumph to cap a fabulous year.
Behind Reid Coolsaet, who finished CRS 2011 with 165 points, came Matt Loiselle [114 points, wins $1,500], Kip Kangogo with 105 points [wins $1,000], Eric Gillis with 104 points [wins $750] and Vanouver’s Dylan Wykes with 99 points [wins $500]. Combined they can lay claim to being the best group of men’s distance runners Canada has had in a generation, and it was with great excitement that we saw them battling it out month after month in the Canada Running Series.
Like Coolsaet, Dayna Pidhoresky was almost unbeatable in taking the CRS 2011 women’s crown. It really was a tremendous year for her, in her first full season of road racing after graduating from the University of Windsor. In fact, very few folks knew much about her before she quietly crossed the St.Clair River to win the Detroit Half marathon last October in 1:13:15 . She followed that up with a second place finish at the National Cross Country Championships in Guelph last November, to show it was no fluke. She began 2011 with as bang, taking the title at the Around the Bay 30K on March 27th [1:50:46]. She made her Canada Running Series debut just 6 days later on the hills of High Park where she still took the Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8K title by more than 30 seconds over Kingston’s Emily Tallen. Dayna’s only stumble in CRS2011 came at the next stop, the Half marathon Championships in Montreal. There, she was visibly disappointed after losing to her only real competition in the year, Megan Brown of Athletics Toronto – soundly beaten by almost a minute on a nasty-weather day [1:14:09 to 1:15:04]. But she rebounded like a true champion. She mercilessly thumped all comers at the Sporting Life Toronto 10K [33:02], finishing almost 2 minutes clear of last year’s CRS women’s champion, Milton’s Josiane Aboungono [34:49], who ended up second to her in the Overall Series Standings this year [156 to 125 points]. Dayna next won the AcuraToronto 10 miler – again by a wide, 40 second margin – after Megan was forced to step off the course at 4km suffering from a bad flu. Like Coolsaet, she perhaps saved her best for last, where on the tough, rolling and winding course at the Zoo she beat Megan [33:46 to 33:54], Malindi Elmore and a quality field to claim the Series and the Athletics Canada 10K Championships.
Behind Dayna [156 points] and Josiane [125 points], Port Moody’s Natasha Wodak ended up 3rd in the CRS 2011 Final Standings [$1,000], with Megan Brown 4thwith 97 points [worth $750], and Malindi Elmore 5th with 89 points [$500].
“This is arguably the best year we’ve ever had for the Canada Running Series,” said Race Director Alan Brookes. “Certainly for the level of Canadian competition. From the beginning, we’ve always hoped that CRS would bring an international level of road racing to Canada, with regular, quality road races that would encourage the pursuit of excellence and the development of Canadian distance running. We’re delighted that it seems to be working!”
Next year’s Series opens with Harry’s Vancouver and Toronto 8Ks on March 25th and April 7th, respectively. The Series will again consist of 8 quality events: 5 in Toronto, 2 in Vancouver and 1 in Montreal. The only changes involve a date and sponsor change for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K [formerly the Sporting Life Toronto 10K], and a “metricification” of the Acura Toronto 10 miler into a 15k event. Online registration for Series 2012 is set to open at noon on Monday November 28th, featuring Early Bird prices and the popular “Combo Packs”, where everyone can save more by entering multiple events. “Our main focus,” said Brookes, “is to continue to build both the quality and the size of the CRS events we have. We want to continue to build the ‘experience’ at our events for everyone, from first to last. Our central goal remains the promotion of running and fitness as a way of life – and developing Canadian heroes is an important part of this.” Entry and details at a new, shorter url: www.RunCRS.ca . CRS 2011 Standings can be seen at http://www.canadarunningseries.com/crs/crsRESULT.htm