“Canada Running Series Set for Another Dynamic Year,” by Paul Gains

It’s been a while since Houston and my last Blog. So it’s great to be back at it, and to be able to announce that Paul GAINS — who wrote so many SUPER stories leading up to STWM last summer and Fall — has agreed to do features throughout Canada Running Series 2012 on other races, not just Waterfront. His piece today “LAUNCHES” CRS 2012. From my point of view, it also provides a nice, different point of view on where we are, and what we do. While Paul focuses a lot on the sharper end of the sport, I think he’s also captured well that we are about SO much more than just the pro athlets at the front of the pack. As I told Get Out There mag earlier this week, we’ve been long-time champions of the “big tent” approach. It’s vital to us that there is room for everyone at CRS road races — and in the sport in general: an “inclusive”, “catholic” approach. Masses of recreational and lifestyle runners; charity runners; and the pro athlete, Canadian (and international) champions, heroes, role models ALL have an important place on the Start line. This is what makes for “complete events”, and the best road races and marathons. We feel strongly at CRS that everyone is welcome, that our races should be great experiences for everyone, and that we all feed off each others’ energy. That’s what builds the buzzzzzz….

So here we go. CRS 2012 is now “Officially Launched” by Paul. Stay with us online AND at the races. It’s Olympic year. It’s going to be a marvellous, fantastic ride where BIG DREAMS come true — for those up front, for ALL of us, and for our charities as we give back to the communities we run through. Hold on!!  

And we're off! Harry's Spring Run off Toronto 8K, 2011 START

“Canada Running Series Set for Another Dynamic Year,” by Paul Gains

Quality race management, memorable courses and the support of all of Canada’s elite distance runners has propelled the Canada Running Series into the forefront of the sport. The eight race series kicks off in Vancouver March 25th with the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8k race and culminates with the world class Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 14th.

The STWM has earned the prestigious IAAF Silver Label status. Accolades notwithstanding, the Canada Running Series embraces all levels of recreational and fitness runners as well as being a committed vehicle for charitable fundraising. Indeed, in 2011 alone, the 61,068 CRS participants helped raise $6.57 million for charities.

Reid Coolsaet duels teammate Eric Gillis at Toronto Yonge Street 10K 2011

Last year’s overall men’s winner, Reid Coolsaet, will focus his attention on the London Olympic marathon in 2012 but will use several CRS races to prepare. The 32 year old from Hamilton, Ontario credits the CRS for his success. “It’s given me an opportunity to run on the roads in competitive races which is important for me to make the transition from the track to roads,” Coolsaet says of the Series. “Of course, getting to races so close to home is a lot easier than having to travel – especially the marathon itself. You have guys running under 2:08 less than an hour’s drive from my home. That’s not something a lot of people in North America can say.”

The Series’ beginnings can be traced back to 1990 when a six race schedule existed in Toronto under the sponsorship of Coors Lite. Current race director Alan Brookes incorporated two existing races into that series and from these roots the Canada Running Series evolved. Runners accumulate points based on their results at each of the CRS races. At the end of the season the overall winner is awarded $2,500. Naturally Coolsaet’s third place finish at the 2011 STWM earned him considerably more money but having top level races throughout the season has also proven invaluable. “The big one is always the (STWM) Toronto marathon,” says Coolsaet who has just returned from six weeks of high altitude training in Kenya. “It has always been the peak of my season but it’s also the best race as far as the depth of talent.” Coolsaet also competed in the Oasis Zoo run last September, winning the national 10km championship as well as the Toronto Acura 10 miler and the Montreal Scotiabank Half Marathon. “Every race has a lot to offer but the marathon is the big one for obvious reasons.” Coolsaet declares.

Dayna powering herself past Grenadier Pond en route to victory at Harry's Spring Run Off 8K, 2011

 While Coolsaet was a successful track runner before turning to the roads Dayna Pidhoresky the 2011 women’s overall CRS champion has developed into a promising marathon runner through participating in the series. “I think it has played a major part in my career,” she admits. “It’s nice that they take care of the athletes they invite. It’s basically all covered for us so it allows us to go to more events and really allows us to get more experience racing the elites. That’s been big for me. I had never really raced that competitively so much in one season. So Alan really jump started my competitive career.” The 25 year old from Tecumseh, Ontario won the national 10km championship in Toronto last Fall. The University of Windsor also ran a personal best 1:11:46 half marathon, albeit on a point to point course, and now has designs on a marathon debut next fall possibly in New York. In the mean time she has committed to racing in the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8km race in Toronto’s High Park (April 7th) and the Toronto Yonge St 10km (April 22nd). Brookes has been involved in road race management for three decades and when he first came into the sport he was surprised at the inaccuracy of many road race courses. Adding to his bewilderment, some races only guaranteed finishing times to the first few hundred. The majority of participants were therefore dependent upon their own wrist watches. “When we started out organizing events we promised people an accurate and safe course and an accurate finish time and place,” Brookes recalls. “The rest is part of the hoopla, the bands, the medals, the shirts, So I think we go to great lengths to organize all the events in our Canada Running Series.” The athletes aren’t the only ones impressed with the work of Brookes and his Toronto based full time team of race management officials. Athletics Canada has used some of the events as national road race championships in order to further grow the sport. The Oasis Zoo Run in Toronto and Montreal’s Scotiabank Half Marathon are both national road race championships. “One only needs to look at the CRS ranking lists to recognize that Canada’s elite endurance runners appreciate and value this excellent series,” declares Thelma Wright a 1972 Olympian and now Athletics Canada’s National Cross Country coach. “Whether using a race as a test of fitness and test of readiness for a longer race, going for Olympic standard or a challenge to the Canadian record, such as Reid, Eric (Gillis) and Dylan (Wykes) runs at STWM last October, the CRS serves a vital role in the development of our best. The CRS provides top competition in favorable conditions within Canada and much needed financial support to our athletes.” Coolsaet, who leaves for another spell of high altitude training in Flagstaff, Arizona adds another important point the quality of competition for younger runners. “Now it seems like there’s more Canadian talent running the races.” he explains. “It gives the next level down the opportunity to run against the top guys in Canada. Five years ago some races were really deep but sometimes the Canadian content was not nearly like it has been the last few years.”

2012 Canada Running Series

Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8km to fight Prostate Cancer, March 25th Vancouver

Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8km & 5km to fight Prostate Cancer, April 7th Toronto

Toronto Yonge Street 10km, April 22nd Toronto

Banque Scotia 21km de Montreal et 5km, April 29th Montreal

Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon & 5km, June 24th Vancouver

The Beaches Jazz Tune-Up Training Run 20km, 10km, 5km, July 22nd Toronto *

Toronto International 15km & 5km, August 12th Toronto

Oasis ZooRun 10km, 5km Run/Walk & Club Run, September 22nd Toronto

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 21km & 5km, October 14th Toronto

* No series points awarded at Tune-Up Training runs

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