TORONTO. April 6. Athletics Toronto’s Sami Jibril claimed victory at this morning’s 35th Annual Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K to fight Prostate Cancer, in a final lung-busting 50m sprint to the line after cresting the final, infamous Spring Road Hill. His time of 24:24 was a scant 6/10ths of a second ahead of Hamilton’s Josephat Ongeri. Athletics TO teammate Rejean Chiasson was 3rd in 24:37. Brantford’s Krista DuChene similarly had to battle all the way around to hold off Kate Van Buskirk, 26:59 to 27:04, and Tecumseh’s Dayna Pidhoresky (27:31), to claim the Women’s title. A sell out crowd of 5,000 toed the lines for the 8K, 5K and Children’s runs in excellent if chilly conditions in High Park: sunny, bright, windless, and 4 degrees. The participation of several City Councillors, the “Best Dressed” competition, and a sizeable fundraising component all added to the buoyant atmosphere on “Opening Day” for Canada Running Series in Toronto.
The victory was a marked breakthrough for the 24 year old Jibril, who has been dragged around all winter as Matt Loiselle’s principal training partner. Sami was 6th in last year’s Spring Run Off, with Ongeri finishing 4th. He was 6th again at Toronto Yonge Street 10K 2012, with Ongeri again besting him for 3rd. Loiselle, who was last year’s Men’s Champion in High Park was on hand to watch, before he leaves for the Brighton (UK) Marathon on Tuesday, and a last shot at making the 2:15 standard to represent Canada in the World Championships Marathon in Moscow this August. From the starting horn, frontrunner Rejean Chiasson pushed the pace, with Ongeri and Jibril hanging on as they plunged down Spring road Hill at 2km, in what was already a 3-man race. By the time the trio had crested Centre Road Hill and hit halfway in 12:01, Jibril had moved to the front, just two steps ahead of Chiasson, with a 20m gap to Ongeri. “It was tough today,” said a visibly pleased Jibril. “I was working the whole time! The first half I just hung in, then hung in until it was time to go – with about 500m to go up that last
hill. That was the hardest hill I’ve ever done!” Ongeri was similarly pleased with his performance, admitting that he knew his 30 year old legs had little chance again Jibril’s 24 year old wheels over the last dash. “The hardest part for me,” said a ‘little-bit-disappointed’ Rejean Chiasson, “was getting used to running on the pavement again,” after his 9 weeks of altitude training on the trails in Ethiopia. “Sami had a great race,” he graciously conceded. “He showed us how it’s done!”
The women’s contest was perhaps even more absorbing, with 1500m runner Kate Van Buskirk taking on marathoner and Canada Running Series 2012 Overall Champion, Krista DuChene. Van Buskirk was 2nd in last year’s Harry’s Toronto Spring Run Off (27:23), and two weeks ago won the sister event, Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K in Stanley Park in 27:40. Dayna Pidhoresky, who was the women’s winner in High Park in 2011 (27:42), 3rd last year, then spent the rest of 2012 battling injuries, was the unknown factor. In a surprising turn of events, the marathoner got away from the track runner over the final 500m! “Coach Rick (Mannen) and I knew the hills at the end were my strength,” said DuChene. “I thought if they got away from me on the downhills I might lose them, but I stuck with them. I made my move a little early on the (Centre Road) hill at 3k, then I just thought ‘I’ve got to finish what I started!’ But those girls were on me the whole way round. Kate was so close I could almost feel her breath! It wasn’t ‘til the very end I thought I could win.” While Dayna dropped off a little in the second half, it’s clear she’s coming back to fitness and with some judicious race-selection, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with again on Canadian roads this year.
In the Councillors’ Challenge, Ward 19s Mike Layton bested Ward 29 (The Danforth’s) Mary Fragedakis, and “Heather the fairy” won the Best Dressed Award.
From here, today’s winners take divergent paths. Sami Jibril will race Toronto Yonge Street 10K in Canada Running Series on April 21st, then head for the track, and Kate Van Buskirk will move to the track immediately with the Mt. Sac and Payton Jordan meets in California later this month. Rejean Chiasson, Krista and Dayna will all follow CRS to the Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal National Half marathon Championships on April 28th. Ultimately, Van Buskirk and DuChene have hopes of meeting up again on the Canadian team to the World Championships on Moscow this summer – albeit in the 1500m and the marathon!
There was an equally fine turn out for Harry’s Spring Run Off 5K, which showcased some younger talent up front, and a mass of charity runners and walkers. St.Mike’s High School’s Ian Tramble took the men’s title in 16:49, and 14-year old Miranda Thompson the women’s in 18:50. Some of the biggest smiles of the day, however, belonged to Paul Alofs of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and Doctors Fleshner and Finelli, when Harry Rosen Inc. CFO Conrad Frejlich (47:54 in the 8K) presented them with a cheque for $320,000 for prostate cancer research. This brought the total raised during Harry Rosen’s 7-year sponsorship to over $2 million.
• Complete Results http://www.canadarunningseries.com/springrunoff/csroRESULT.htm
• Online entries still being accepted for the next event in CANADA RUNNING SERIES 2013, the TORONTO YONGE STREET 10K, April 21st at http://www.canadarunningseries.com/toronto10k/index.htm