This time it was rain and unseasonable, humid temperatures nearing 18 celsius that devastated the best men’s field ever assembled in Toronto.
In the end it was an Ethiopian, Sahle Warga who prevailed in a time of 2:10:35 well off the Canadian all comers and course record set two years ago by Kenneth Mungara (2:07:58). In its 23 year history this was the first time an Ethiopian male had won.
“This was a very nice race,” said the happy winner in English without the use of a translator, “and I thought I would win 25km into the race. It was very cold and it was raining so I’m very happy to win. I didn’t run my personal best it was a little windy but with this result I am happy.
“I knew from my training in Addis that I was ready to race well.”
Warga was not one of the favourites who had come her in search of a $25,000 course record bonus. Indeed, the Kenyan duo of Gilbert Yegon and John Kiprotich both of whom have run well under 2:07 for the distance were left well beaten.
Kiprotich looked a safe bet for second place after Warga had broken free near the 40 kilometre mark but a fast charging Kiplimo Kimutai passed him near the finish to take the second place in 2:11:20 nine seconds ahead of Kiprotich.
The women’s race also produced a surprise winner in New Zealand’s Mary Davies. The kiwi admitted she had looked at the start list and never thought she would be in the top three never mind claim first place in 2:28:56. But her cautious running over the first 30km left her with enough energy to catch pre race favourite Agnes Kiprop of Kenya in the final stages.
“At about 39km I could see the girl and I thought maybe I could catch her. I didn’t have much energy left,” Davies revealed.
“It was amazing, My goal was to break 2:30 and I am just over the moon. I felt strong at 40km when I passed her but kept looking around for her.”
The resident of Ottawa was joined by her husband and their baby in the finish chute. Meanwhile Kiprop was taken to the medical tent in a wheelchair after collapsing into the arms of race officials at the finish.
“When I arrived at 35km I felt my legs with extra pain, so I started struggling,” said Kiprop once she had regained her composure. “ No, I wasn’t going for the course record. It rained a lot. Maybe if it hadn’t rained I would have gone for the course record.”
“I feel o.k. but my legs have pain. I am not disappointed because I finished the race in weather like this.”
The final podium place went to Ethiopia’s Radiyo Adilo in 2:30:49.
Krista Duchene of Brantford was 4th in a credible 2:32:15. She had been on a sub 2:30 time for much of the race but felt pain in her hip early on.
“We will go back and look at our training and certainly won’t look at it as a failure,” said the Canadian. “The goal was the Canadian record (2:28:36). You always set the bar high. If you set low goals for yourself you achieve them or worse.
“Obviously with my hip giving me trouble at 6km – I thought at least I could go under 2:30 – and then it was just hurting. Reid (Coolsaet) said ‘at 39km you’ve got that hill and its windy and its brutal’ and I felt like that. But I have never had a pacer all the way through (the race) like that.”
Other Canadian favourites were not so fortunate. The first Canadian male was Matt Loiselle. Early on he was on pace for a personal best time in the 2:12 range but faded in the latter stages to finish 7th overall in 2:16:23. He will have some consolation in receiving $5000 as the first Canadian finisher.
Lanni Marchant was never close to her goal of beating Silvia Ruegger’s Canadian record of 2:28:36. She ran with Duchene and Davies in the first 9 kilometres before fading and then abandoning the race. After running her personal best of 2:31:51 in Rotterdam she got a stress fracture while starting her buildup for Toronto. It caused he to drop out of a road race in Vancouver and delayed her training.
Rob Watson whose personal best of 2:13:35 came at the Rotterdam marathon last spring also dropped out to save himself for another day.
Bright spots on the day included another (single-age) Age Group World Record for the unstoppable Ed Whitlock — 3:30:29 at age 81; and Guinness World Records for Flash (Fastest Marathon as a Superhero, 2:33:58) and Maple Leaf Fan (Fastest Marathon in full Ice Hockey Uniform, including stick, 4:08:44).
More than 24,000 runners from 50 countries took part in the various races, and almost $4 million was raised for 167 charities.