VANCOUVER & TORONTO, February 19th. Megan Brown lines up for the Vancouver Spring Run Off March 24th hoping to ‘bust a little rust’ after taking a break through much of December.
The 27 year old was in need of a brief respite following a successful 2012 season which saw her win both the Oasis Zoo 10km – which doubled as the Canadian 10km road race championship – and the Canadian Cross Country Championship.
The annual 8km race through Vancouver’s Stanley Park launches the 2013 Canada Running Series – the eleventh consecutive year of the series – with Toronto’s Harry’s Spring Run Off following on April 6th.
“Anytime that I get a chance to run in the Canada Running Series it’s something that I look forward to,” says Brown, an Athletics Toronto club member. “I am looking at this race as a great way to kick start my spring season.
“I will be focusing primarily on the track so this might be one of my only road races for the early part of the year. I will be focusing on the 5000m and 10000m on the track. The roads are always a little bit more low key and a way to bust a little rust and get the competitive juices flowing.”
It’s not the first time Brown has missed time from training. After contracting Lyme Disease she was sidelined the entire 2009 season. But with the help of Athletics Toronto coaches Dave Reid and Hugh Cameron, she has fought her way back to fitness covering some 145 kilometres a week in training.
This will be the seventh year that the Vancouver race has traversed the roads around scenic Stanley Park. Brown will be challenged by her training partner, Kate Van Buskirk, who represented Canada at the 2011 FISU Games in Shenzhen, China. The pair will surely make a formidable tandem.
The reigning men’s champion, Kip Kangogo, will return to defend his hard fought title. He won last year’s race in 23:59.4. The Kenyan born resident of Lethbridge, Alberta has permanent resident status in Canada and is awaiting full citizenship.
“I am very happy to go back,” he says of the Vancouver race. “I think I will go and put up a good fight and make the race exciting. The race was really nice (last year). I kind of like it being my first main race. Because it’s 8 km you need to be a little bit sharp because the distance is so short. So then anything close to 24 minutes is good because it is just the beginning of the year.”
The Toronto Harry’s Spring Run Off, which is also 8km, has over its 35 years, attracted some of the greatest distance runners in history. Dave Reid, remembers well some of the highlights of the event having raced and won the event in 1988.
Most significantly, the Spring Run Off was the first Canadian race to offer prize money and attracted some of Canada’s greatest distance stars including Peter Butler, Dave Edge and Sylvia Ruegger. Then, in 1994 two young and very unknown Kenyans turned up at Toronto’s High Park to brave the cold. Daniel Komen set the course record of 22:35 before going on to win the 1997 IAAF World Championships over 5000m and setting world records at both 3,000m and 5000m. His course record still stands.
Komen’s compatriot, Sally Barsosio, actually had to be coaxed out of the park’s ‘Grenadier Restaurant’ where she had gone to escape the cold. Although she missed the start she caught the leaders and went on to win the race. Barsosio also won the 1997 IAAF World Championships 10000m.
Other world class runners such as Ireland’s great marathoner, John Treacy, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist and Ed Eyestone a world cross country bronze medalist in 1980 have also competed here.
While the Vancouver race benefits The Arthritis Society, the Toronto race supports prostate cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital, for whom it has raised more than $2 million over the past 7 years.
The 2013 race will be another competitive affair.
Dayna Pidhoresky, who won the 2011 Canada Running Series overall title has confirmed she will line up for the High Park race after an injury plagued year. She was diagnosed with a fracture of the sacrum and then contended with sore shins for much of 2012.
“I definitely plan my season to be able to try to win the Canada Running Series again,” says Pidhoresky. “I want to do Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto. It’s close by and it’s a nice course. After that I want to do the Montreal Half. That will be my peak spring race.”
One of Megan Brown’s Athletics Toronto teammates, Rejean Chiasson will be racing Harry’s. He is the subject of much speculation. The 29 year old from St. Isadore, New Brunswick has shown unprecedented commitment by dipping into his own pockets to attend a nine week high altitude training camp in Sululta, Ethiopia. He will arrive back in Toronto one week before the Spring Run Off.
“It’s been going well,” he revealed this week. “It was a huge adjustment for everything the altitude obviously, the footing is pretty rough in some places, and there are huge hills everywhere, and having to adjust my mindset in terms of pace. It’s been really good. I have been improving consistently in my workouts. I am finally starting to get consistent now that I am three weeks in.”
“I have run the Harry’s Spring Run Off I think two or three years ago. Pretty much it’s a season opener. It’s a pretty tough course it is going to match well with the type of training I am doing here in Ethiopia.”
Excitement, drama and tough competition abound at these two races along with excellent race management. What a great start to the 2013 Canada Running Series.
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