Road to Moscow runs through Houston for Matt LOISELLE

Matt hammering Derek Nakluski down Spring Road Hill en route to victory at Harry's Spring Run off 8K, 2012

TORONTO. January 9th. Buzzzzzzzzzz! The New Year has barely begun, and already the action and excitement is upon us! It’s January, it must be Houston. For 3 decades Canadians have experienced record-setting highs and valleys of desolation on the flat, fast streets of the Texas metropolis. Silvia Ruegger’s victory in Canadian National Women’s Marathon Record time of 2:28:36 in 1985; Peter Fonseca’s overall win in 2:11:52 in 1995; Lioudmila’s 2:30:43 for 3rd place in 2009; Eric Gillis’ marathon debut of 2:13:56 in 2010 definitely fit into the former category. Rob Watson’s lonely, big-fade 2:16:17 time debut in the rain in 2011 (after a 65:28 first-half), and Simon Bairu’s gut-wrenching 2:19:52 last-chance to make the 2:11:29 qualifying standard for the London Olympics in last year’s edition undoubtedly fit in the latter group of experiences. (for the historians amongst you, you can check my 2011and 2012 Houston Marathon Preview Blogs).

This Sunday it’s Matt LOISELLE’s turn. The 28 year old member of Athletics Toronto will be laying it all on the line in a second attempt (5th marathon) to go sub 2:15:00, the magic qualifying Standard for the Men’s Marathon team going to the World Championships in Moscow in August. A no-nonsense, tough-training, more-than-likeable-guy, Matt has been a consistent performer in Canada Running Series over the past 4 years. In this period, he has had some excellent outings and been the model of consistency over the half- marathon distance. He won the Canadian National Half-marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal in April 2009 with his PB of 64:10. He was Champion again in 2010 in 65:08. In 2011 (65:29) and 2012 (64:56) he was 2nd — nipping at the heels of Olympic marathoners Reid Coolsaet (2011) and Eric Gillis (2012).

But where Reid and Eric have gone onto run 2:10 and 2:11 in the marathon and punch their tickets to the Olympics, Matt has struggled with the 42k distance. From a debut 2:27:34 in 2008 in Niagara, he moved forward under coach Cameron to a 2:19:03 at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2010; then 2:16:01 at STWM 2011. On a tough-weather day at STWM 2012 last October he ran another 2:16 (2:16:24).

Matt gets a kiss after his 2:16:24 at STWM 2012

Last April, Canada Running Series/STWM and Ottawa Race weekend partnered with Athletics Canada to establish a “Moscow Marathon Project” to give Canadian endurance runners continued incentives, following on the highly-successful, similar ventures with “Berlin Word Championships Project 2009″ and “London 2012 Project after that. Now its onto Moscow 2013, then Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Toronto 2015 Pan Ams, then Rio 2016! You can read full details in my April blog, but the key facts are these:

  • 5 places for Men to go to Moscow
  • 5 places for Women
  • A standard for Men = sub 2:11:29; B standard = sub 2:15:00
  • A standard for women = sub 2:29:55; B standard = sub 2:35:00
  • Qualifying window is March 2012 to May 26th, 2013.
  • Men so far with standards: Dylan Wykes (2:10:47 Rotterdam April 15, 2012).
  • Women so far with standard: Lanni Marchant (2:31:51 Rotterdam 2012) & Krista DuChene (2:32:06 Rotterdam 2012 and 2:32:16 STWM 2012) 

Going forward into an EXCITING 2013, it’s likely that Reid Coolsaet & Eric Gillis will run fast Spring marathons — maybe Rotterdam. Dylan Wykes is just starting back running after a lengthy injury-recovery after London. Even if all 3 of our Olympians get standards and all 3 decide they want to go to the World Championships, that still leaves 2 Men’s places; 3 for Women. Matt’s teammate Rejean Chiasson (2:17:48 PB at STWM 2011) was planning to take a run at things in Houston, but he’s not ready. Maybe he’ll take a shot at qualifying in Ottawa on May 25th, but right now he’s saying not. (several Canadian women will also be having a go in the Spring — more on this later!). Simon Bairu has gone back to Cross Country (NACAC and world Cross in Poland) and 10,000m where he excels, seemingly giving up on the marathon for now.

So no matter how we work the possible permutations, the door is wide open for Matt Loiselle to nail that standard and a Canada vest, a World Champinship berth. I’ll be on the Lead Men’s Marathon truck on Sunday, cheering for Matt and tweeting splits and updates, so please stay with us! 

Lanni Marchant will also be in Houston, racing the half as she hits the comeback trail after dropping out of Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon (June) and STWM (October) with injury problems.

We’ll have a STWM booth at the Houston Marathon EXPO, so please drop by and visit us Friday or Saturday if you’re in town. For everyone else, stay connected via Twitter. Follow me and the action @alnbrookes.

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