Reid Coolsaet, Megan Brown lead charge for Canadian 10K National Championships at Oasis ZooRun this Saturday.

Reid Coolsaet & Dylan Wykes lead the charge off the Start Line at last year's OASIS ZooRun

TORONTO. September 17th. Reid Coolsaet of Guelph’s Speed River TFC and Megan Brown of Athletics Toronto, are confirmed to lead the assault on the Athletics Canada National 10K Championship crowns this Saturday, over the rolling, winding roads of the Toronto Zoo. This will be the 4th year that the Oasis ZooRun has hosted the Championships, and the 2012 edition will be one of the strongest and deepest battles to date. As usual over the 10k distance, there will be an intriguing contest between marathoners and middle distance athletes, as they intersect at this popular middle-ground. The race also doubles as the Grand Finale of the TIMEX Road Racing Series, bringing together the best athletes from across the country, from Newfoundland to BC.

Reid Coolsaet takes the 2011 AC National 10K Championship

Coolsaet will toe the line as the defending Champ, recovering from his outing in the Olympic Marathon on August 12th. He qualified for London with a sparkling 2:10:55 at last October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, that notched him 3rd place overall on a challenging, windy morning, where he became the first Canadian to qualify for an Olympic Marathon since 2000. It remains to be seen whether he has recovered fully after a tough outing in London over a similarly winding course on a hot and humid morning. According to Coolsaet:

I don’t quite feel fully recovered from London. My legs are still a little fatigued. I’m not training fully again but I’m running about 160km/week and getting in 2-3 decent efforts a week lately. My first few workouts back weren’t anything to write home about but I didn’t expect them to be. Last week I started to see the light again and I’m coming around a bit.

I would like to race a couple of key races this fall in the 10km to half marathon range. Working on shorter races will benefit me when I start to train for a Spring marathon. The Oasis Zoo run will help me jump start my training and give me something to shoot for early on.

I’m not really sure how my legs will feel when I push hard in a race but I would like to challenge for another Canadian title at the ZooRun (I have 11).

To claim his 12th national crown, Reid will have to fend off fellow marathoners Rob Watson of Vancouver and Rejean Chiasson of Athletics Toronto. Watson was 5th last October at the Zoo, and is again in the final stages of his high-mileage preparation for this year’s STWM on October 14th where he is gunning for a place on the Canadian team to the World Championships Marathon in Moscow next summer. Chiasson, originally from Grande-Digue, New Brunswick, ran a strong 65:04 to place 3rd in the National Half marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal in April, but is now re-grouping after a disappointing outing in the Ottawa Marathon on May 27th (2:19:55), and should be sharp. The Around the Bay 30K 2011 champion, Derek Nakluksi of Kitchener, plus the 2012 runner-up, Terrence Attema of Smithville, ON (2nd to Reid Coolsaet), are also likely to be in the lead pack along with a group of younger, shorter-distance specialists that will likely include Matt Brunsting, Kyle Boorsma and John Mason from Speed River, and Waterloo’s Adam Hortian. As evidence of even more depth in this year’s race, British Columbia will field a strong men’s team that includes the up-and-coming Sam Pawluk from Richmond, plus veterans Jerry Ziak (Vancouver) and Craig Odermatt (Victoria), Victoria’s Matt Clout, and Abbotsford’s David Jackson. This year’s Men’s race is just too complex to call, and promises an absorbing tussle!

Megan Brown looking strong early on in last year's Championships

The 2012 Women’s Championship race looks to be just as intriguing. It promises a battle of the current stars of Canada’s resurgence in Canadian Women’s distance running – a “challenge of champions”. Megan Brown was runner-up at last year’s Oasis ZooRun, and currently looks sharp and fast after spending the summer on the track where she ran 4:13 for 1500m and 16:33 for 5000m. According to her coach, Dave Reid,

“Megan is fitter and faster than ever, and is ready to run fast. The 10K Championship is important to her, and an important part of a transition from summer on the track to a focus on cross-country and making the World Cross team for Poland next March.”

Megan torched the field at the Yorkville 5K Road Race last weekend, with a crisp 15:57. That was exactly a minute clear of Tarah McKay-Korir, who owned the Canada Running Series this Spring with victories at both Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K and Toronto Yonge Street 10K (32:07). Tarah, who is married to Boston Marathon Champ Wesley Korir, has just returned from training in Kenya over the summer, and will be looking for revenge over 10K after the drubbing she got in Yorkville over the shorter distance. Port Moody, BC’s Natasha Fraser (formerly Wodak) steps onto the line as champion from this year’s prestigious Vancouver SunRun 10K (34:13); and UofT Track Club’s Rachel Hannah took the Women’s title at the most-recent Canada Running Series event – -the Toronto 10 miler on August 12th(59:23). The marathon camp will be well represented by Canada’s #1 and #2 ranked Women’s marathoners, Lanni Marchant of London and Krista DuChene of Brantford. Lanni (4th at the 2011 10K Championships) and Krista had superb runs at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, finishing a few seconds either side of 2:32, and narrowly missing out on a trip to the Olympics. They are currently sharpening for a run at Silvia Ruegger’s National Marathon record of 2:28:36 – a record that has lasted 27 years – at STWM on October 14th, with something to prove.

Interestingly, Toronto’s Lioudmila Kortchaguina, who has run the fastest Canadian Women’s marathon time in the current era – a 2:30:43 at Houston in January 2009 – will toe the line on Saturday as a Master’s competitor. The Women’s Masters crown is likely to be just as fiercely contested as the Open Divisions, with Lioudmila going up against Calgary’s Olympian Lisa Harvey, Brockville’s Paula Wiltse, and St-Bruno, QCs Natalie Goyer. The Men’s Masters also features a super duel between Ottawa’s Rich Minichiello and St-Charles, QCs Terry Gehl. If either of them falters, BCs Odermatt, Toronto’s Predrag Mladenovic and Kevin Smith will be poised to pounce.

The Oasis ZooRun 10K, plus the accompanying 5K and CubRun are currently all sold out, but spectators are invited to come out to Toronto Zoo for a tremendous morning of Canadian road racing, followed by an afternoon with the four-legged animals in the zoo.

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