TORONTO. April 21st. Kip Kangogo punched the air in elation as he crossed the finish line to win the Toronto Yonge Street 10k this morning.
It wasn’t so much his winning time of 28:57 that elicited this emotion but the fact that, after three tries, he finally emerged victorious in this prestigious Canada Running Series race.
A year ago the Kenyan citizen, who enjoys permanent resident status in Canada, was leading until the final thirty metres when Canadian Olympic marathoner Reid Coolsaet passed him to deny him victory. In 2011 Kangogo was third behind Coolsaet and fellow Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis.
Today, it was Gillis who was on the receiving end of a devastating kick as Kangogo pulled away in the last 150 metres. The Speed River Track Club runner claimed second in 29:01.
“The group was running together until possibly 7km then it was just me and Eric,” said the delighted Kenyan. “It is kind of tough to kick. He tried to accelerate near the end and I closed the gap and I said I would just go. I went.
“This is wonderful after winning the Vancouver Spring Run Off - I won it but I don’t think my fitness was that great – this is my second race. Finishing first here I felt really good going into the season and know I am where I want to be.”
After a rare springtime blizzard a day earlier, the weather cooperated for the roughly 7,000 runners with clear sunny skies and a crisp temperature of 2 degrees celsius. Kangogo was certainly foremost in Gillis’s mind at the start line.
“I think Eric and Reid know that our paths have crossed in many places,” Kangogo offered, “and they know on any given day they can beat me or I can beat them. I am always scared but then I have a good race.”
Kangogo says he might run a fall marathon but hasn’t chosen a particular race at this point.
Meanwhile, Gillis admits he is in the middle of marathon buildup and has been piling in upwards of 200 kilometres a week in training. He spent five weeks training in Iten, Kenya this past winter but his training was temporarily limited by an inflammation in his hip. That caused him to withdraw from the Boston Marathon and choose a later spring marathon. He will run Ottawa on May 26th.
“Letting loose is the right way to describe it,” Gillis revealed. “Running a shorter distance and running it downhill it was nice to get out there and let the legs flow. It is a good confidence booster to get some turnover.
“There was a pack of five of us for most of the race and then it went down to the two of us with two kilometres to go. We ran together pretty much until that turn and he just took off. I knew he had raced and won, a couple of weeks ago and I knew he was fit enough to do something but neither one of us had made a move before that. So I didn’t know if he was tired. I made a little move but he stuck right with me and I went ‘oh oh.’ He just took off. I didn’t have the leg speed.”
The women’s race was easily won by Lanni Marchant in a time of 31:58. The 29 year old London, Ontario native, who lives and practices criminal law in Chattanooga, Tennessee had been the favourite. Prior to the start she graciously participated in pre-race media activities including a live telephone interview with local Toronto television station CP24 as she road the athletes’ bus to the start line.
“Its amazing I have never done this race before,” Marchant declared at the finish. “It’s always been on my bucket list. To come out here and kind of blow it out of the water for myself I am really excited. It’s such a great event. Alan (Brookes) and the Canada Running Series people put on such great events.”
“After having a bit of a bad turn at the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon it was really nice to come out here and have a good run in Toronto.”
Rachel Hannah of the University of Toronto Track Club was Marchant’s nearest challenger finishing second in 33:40. Because of her recent appearance in a Canadian vest at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships Marchant knew she was in shape. But Hannah admitted the race was over by half way. She went on to record a time of 33:40 for second place.
The winner returns to Canada next week to attend her brother’s wedding in London, Ontario an event that might well rival, if not athletically, her planned appearance at the 2013 IAAF World Athletics Championships. She qualified for the worlds with her 5th place finish at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon.
“It’s starting to sink in (racing in Moscow),” Marchant admitted. “After the Around the Bay race my coach and I started to get really excited. But, of course, with me there’s always that risk of injury so I am trying to contain my excitement and not get too aggressive in my training and my workouts. But that’s why we have a race planned each month but the end game is building for worlds.”