“McKay-Korir Aiming for Victory at Toronto Yonge Street 10K,” by Paul Gains
Tarah McKay-Korir lines up for the 2012 Toronto Yonge Street 10km on Sunday determined to make it three victories in three weekends for her household. Toronto Yonge Street 10K is event #3 in the prestigious Canada Running Series 2012.
The 25 year old from Elmira, Ontario won the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8km on April 7th in impressive fashion. Next, her husband, Wesley Korir, overcame a world class field and oppressive weather conditions to win the Boston Marathon this past Monday.
Although McKay-Korir and their infant daughter McKayla stayed behind while Wesley ran himself into the history books, the family will all be on site during the Toronto race.
“He has a really distinctive cheer so it’s always really motivating to hear him out along the course,” McKay-Korir says of her husband’s presence on race day. “Also his running is really motivational too and inspiring. He helps me a lot with my running. He often goes for his easy runs with me, like when we were in Kenya. Definitely having him there is motivational.”
The couple met while both were student-athletes at the University of Louisville. Her obligations to the university prevented her from accomplishing more than a 2nd place finish at the 2008 Canadian Cross Country Championships. However, she is now actively pursuing her running career with the help and support of her husband.
The inspiration flows both ways. In Boston, Wesley’s special hydration bottles bore the names of Tarah and McKayla and he also taped Canadian flags to them so they were distinguishable on the cluttered water tables. Korir might one day apply for Canadian citizenship she says.
At present the couple are splitting their time between Elmira, Ontario where they live in Tarah’s parents basement apartment and a home they have just built in the village of Chepkanga high up in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.
Three months of high altitude training in Kenya has certainly worked wonders for McKay-Korir’s conditioning and so it is with confidence that she tackles her first 10km race of the season. Standing between her and victory is a competitive women’s field led by 24 year old Kate Van Buskirk, who graduated from Duke University a year ago.
The Toronto Yonge Street 10km represents Van Buskirk’s debut at the distance. She is best known for her middle distance prowess having finished 2nd in the 2011 NCAA indoor mile and 3rd in the 2011 NCAA outdoor 1,500m final. A member of Athletics Toronto she is now coached by former Canadian 1,500m record holder Dave Reid.
Two weeks ago she chased McKay-Korir to the finish of the Harry’s race placing second in 27:27.4 behind the winning time of 27:11.8. This performance followed a warm weather training camp in Clermont, Florida which provided the right environment for some strength endurance training. The race in High Park, where her club often trains, was an enormous confidence booster. [see post-race VIDEO interview with Tarah and Kate after Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8K].
“I am always excited to try new races and to test my limits outside of my primary event,” she reveals. “So I am psyched to see what I can muster over 10km. I understand that the Yonge Street race is a very fast course, and with the forecasted tail wind, it will be exciting to see what I can do pushing myself with the other elite women on Sunday.
“I will run the 1500m at the Canadian Olympic Trials and am going after the world championship standards (‘A’ and ‘B’), although I will also race a few 800m’s, and will hope to “p.b.” over that distance as well.”
The Toronto Yonge Street 10km course record was set in 2007 by Kenya’s Florence Jepkoskei 31:42. Neither McKay-Korir nor Van Buskirk seem concerned with an attempt to break it. Instead, they see this as renewal of their long rivalry.
“I always look forward to racing her,” says McKay-Korir. “There’s a bit of a rivalry but it’s a friendly rivalry. We have been competing against each other since grade 9. We have been competitors but we have also been teammates (on the 2005 Canadian junior world cross country team). I have been friends with her for a long time but when we race we are competitive and you never know how it’s going to turn out.”
With the Boston Marathon champion offering encouragement no doubt she will have an incredible source of inspiration come Sunday.
For More Information and Entry: www.toronto10k.ca