TORONTO. December 10, 2013. London’s Lanni Marchant and Lethbridge’s Kip Kangogo were officially announced as 2013 Canada Running Series Champions today, capping off an outstanding year for both athletes, and for Canada’s top road race circuit. It was also a year when Canadian women surged forward to join their male counterparts on the national and international stage. Lioudmila Kortchaguina, of Thornhill, ON, had a great “comeback” year to claim the Women’s Masters’ title – as well as racing to 3rd place in the Open Women – while Toronto’s Predrag Mladenovic took the Masters’ Men’s crown. [see complete Final Standings: Open and Masters]. “What a year it’s been for Canadian distance running, and especially on the roads at CRS,” said Race Director Alan Brookes.
Lanni Marchant finished a marvelous year with her 2:28:00 performance at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 20th. The mark smashed Silvia Ruegger’s 28-year old National Record by 36 seconds. [VIDEO: post-race interview] It also propelled Marchant to IAAF Gold Label athlete status, garnered major national media attention, and put Canadian marathoning as well as the athlete herself, on the world stage. Accolades have even included an opportunity to represent a major Canadian supermarket’s nutrition message in their campaign leading up to the Pan Am Games, Toronto 2015. Lanni also had impressive CRS victories at Toronto Yonge Street 10K [31:58] in April, and in the National 10K Championships at Oasis ZooRun in September. Her only defeat came at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon in June, where Brantford’s Krista DuChene out-duelled her 70:52 to 71:38, as the two used the race as their final tune-up before representing Canada in the World
Championships marathon in Moscow in August. “Lanni and Krista really showed us the very best in road racing in CRS 2013,” said Brookes. “They’re two really nice people, great, internationally-competitive athletes, who battled each other on our Canadian roads all year long. Undoubtedly, their sportsmanlike rivalry propelled both forward. It also gave us the very best of road racing, with thrilling, head-to-head competition on a regular basis, right here in Canada.” Lanni finished the season with 159 points to Krista’s 149, earning them an additional $2,500 and $1,500, respectively, on top of their individual race awards.
Another great ambassador for the sport, Kip Kangogo, also proved that persistence pays off in endurance sports. He began with a 4th place finish in CRS 2010. In 2011 he move up to 3rd. Last year he was runner-up to Olympian Reid Coolsaet, before finally claiming top spot on the podium – and by the narrowest of margins. Both Kip and Speed River’s Eric Gillis ended the year with 157 points, but the Albertan claimed the title in the tie-breaker, based on head-to-head competition. In a thrilling sprint to the line, Kip unleashed “a devastating kick” to get by Eric at Toronto Yonge Street 10K [28:57 to 29:01]; then again at Oasis ZooRun 10K, where they were 2nd and 3rd behind Reid Coolsaet.
In addition to these thrilling moments by the champions, CRS 2013 also showed how the depth is building in Canadian road racing, and how more and more “Canadian stars” are emerging at CRS. Kate Van Buskirk had an outstanding, breakout year on the track at 1500m, highlighted by her performances at the World Championships in Moscow – her first major international experience. [VIDEO interview from Moscow]. Yet we also got the chance to race with her at Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K, on March 24th, where she was the convincing Women’s winner [Race Report] , and two weeks later at Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8K, where Krista DuChene beat her into second place. In a surprising turn up for the books, the marathoner got away from the 1500m runner in the final 500m! “Kate was so close I could almost feel her breath! It wasn’t ’til the very end I thought I could win,” said Krista, post-race. [Race Report].
This depth was also evident from the strong showing of British Columbia athletes in the final CRS 2013 standings. What began as a seed when Kingston’s Dylan Wykes moved to Vancouver to train under coach Richard Lee in 2010, is now beginning to blossom. Rob Watson, who moved to Vancouver, in part to train with Dylan, had a super 2013: in April he led Boston for a large part of the prestigious race and finished 11th; he won the Canadian Marathon Championships at Ottawa in May; he finished 20th at the World Championships Marathon in Moscow in August; then ran a PB at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October [2:13:29]. He also placed second at the Scotia Vancouver Half and 5th at the Zoo. Following a lengthy lay-off with injuries after the London Olympic Marathon, Dylan returned to racing at the new Vancouver Eastside 10K in September, where he cruised to victory in his “rust-buster” [29:42]. He then mixed it up at the Zoo, to earn him 4th place in CRS 2013. Abbotsford’s David Jackson was 5th. On the women’s side, Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak spent the year chasing Lanni and Krista – something that gave her another SunRun 10K victory and a National Cross Country title as well as 4th place in this year’s Series. BC Timex Series women’s champ, 25 year old Sabrina Wilkie, claimed 5th. This August, things coalesced with the formation of the BC Endurance Project by BC Athletics, under coach Richard Lee [see also CR announcement]. The original 9 members of the new High-Performance” group include Dylan, Rob Watson, Natasha and Sabrina, plus Kelly Weibe and National Men’s Cross Country champ Luc Bruchet. They have just been joined by CRS 2011 champion, Dayna Pidhoresky, who has relocated from Tecumseh, ON to Vancouver. As Rob blogged, “It’s a beautiful thing” and will foster the competition necessary to raise Canadian standards to even higher levels.
As Dylan said in an interview with Chris Kelsall in 2010:
DW: Yeah, it’s pretty cool there are so many guys running so well. It’s a really great thing for running in Canada. I remember talking to Art Boileau a little while ago and we were chatting about how well Reid and Eric ran in Toronto. He was saying how back in his day, when a lot of guys were running fast, he used other Canadians good results to motivate him to train harder and race faster. I think we are seeing that happening now, sort of that. If he can do it, why can’t I? mentality.
And in 2013, Canadian women perhaps made the strongest statement, moving their competitive level to that of “the guys”.
“This year was a really great one for CRS and for Canadian road racing,” said Brookes.
“We had more than 56,000 participants; our 8 races consistently got ~90% approval ratings from our participants; collectively they raised almost $5.8 million for some 300 charities; and it was a thrilling year at the sharp end of the sport, where our Canadian distance runners gave us lots to cheer about, to share with them, and feel proud of. But watch out for 2014! It’s competition that spurs improvement and the momentum is clearly visible. Watch out for the renewal of some of that famous BC vs Ontario rivalry of the 1980s, with Valley Royals taking on Toronto Olympic, and Etobicoke Huskies; and for a bunch of new records to fall. Mouth-watering road race excitement on offer for 2014!” Brookes advises everyone to enter their favourite races for Canada Running Series 2014 early, as they will sell out. And both West and East Combo Packs are available until the end of January. www.RunCRS.ca