Springtime Signals Launch of Canada Running Series, by Paul Gains

230_TF_HT12_0640TORONTO. February 26th.  It’s a sure sign Spring is on the way as the 2014 Canada Running Series launches with the Modo Spring Run Off 8km race in Vancouver’s picturesque Stanley Park, March 23rd.

The eight race national series offers a positive race experience for runners of all levels from beginners and recreational runners to the competitive and international class who race for prize money. And with Modo, the world’s first English speaking car share, aligning themselves with the Series the season is off to a tremendous start.

A year ago Alberta’s Kip Kangogo, a landed immigrant from Kenya, won the Vancouver Spring Run Off. It was an ominous beginning as he eventually collected enough points to win the overall CRS men’s title. Kangogo, who is a resident of Lethbridge, Alberta has declared his intention to defend his title this year.

“The CRS are the best races that we will ever have in this great nation. All the years I have been running they have always been supportive,” he declares, “Last year I wanted to be the CRS overall champion and that’s what I promised myself from the beginning of the season. When my daughter was born in June I said ‘I want to win Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon for my daughter Emma.’ Then after that race I said to myself ‘I have got to win the overall.’

Victory at last! For Kip Kangogo at TYS10K, after 3rd place in 2011 and 2nd last year.

Victory at last! For Kip Kangogo at TYS10K, after 3rd place in 2011 and 2nd last year.

“I was very close to (Olympian) Eric Gillis in points. I knew I was not going to run Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon because I was going to run the Victoria Marathon so I said the only way I could beat Eric is to go to the Oasis Zoo Run 10K in Toronto. After beating him at Toronto Yonge Street I wanted another race that would give me an advantage over him. So I went to the Zoo run going head to head against Eric Gillis.”

Lanni Marchant, who has been at a high altitude training camp in Kenya throughout the winter, won the overall female title in 2013. Both she and Kangogo earned $2,500 bonuses in addition to the prize money from the individual CRS races.

It was her third place finish at the Series’ flagship event, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon that provided the year’s biggest highlight.

The 29 year old from London, Ontario finally eclipsed the Canadian Women’s Marathon record. Finishing in a time of 2:28:00, she claimed a $28,000 bonus to go with her $8,000 third place prize. Silvia Ruegger’s record had stood since 1985. The Waterfront event attracts runners from all over the world and for the past seven years has earned an IAAF Silver Label. That’s quite a distinction, but as Race Director Alan Brookes emphasizes the Series is for everybody.

Krista DuChene and Lanni Marchant after both breaking Silvia ruegger's 28 year old National Record at STWM 2013.

Krista DuChene and Lanni Marchant after both breaking Silvia ruegger’s 28 year old National Record at STWM 2013.

“The primary purpose is to promote the sport and show that the sport is still there and relevant and inviting to a wide range of people,” he declares. “When we all get our kit on you can’t tell the president of a bank from the unemployed laborer. It’s very inclusive, which is one of the things I like about the sport of running.”

Several Canadian international runners including Olympians Dylan Wykes, Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis as well as 2013 World Championship team members Rob Watson, Kate Van Buskirk and Krista DuChene have raced alongside Marchant at CRS races. Moreover, they have helped promote the events. All have seen their careers flourish because of the availability of these races.

This year’s STWM is scheduled for October 19th. But the full Series includes [see 2014 Calendar] the Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k (March 23), Harry’s Spring Run Off Toronto 8km (April 5), Toronto Yonge St 10km (April 13), Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal (April 27), Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and 5k (June 22), Vancouver Eastside 10k (September 13), Oasis Zoo Run 10k Toronto (September 20).

Brookes likes to point out that each of the races is run along accurately measured and unique courses. In addition to Stanley Park, Toronto’s High Park and Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal are the settings for CRS races. The Oasis Zoo 10K also serves as the Canadian 10km Championship and traverses the grounds of the Toronto Zoo. Then there is the Toronto Yonge Street 10km where runners can take delight in running down one of Canada’s most famous streets.

Credit for the Series’ success must go to the professional team of event managers working alongside Brookes.

Harry's Spring Run Off 8K Start, 2012“I think we have a fantastic team with sixteen full time people,” Brookes reveals. “They are committed to a healthy lifestyle and they are event professionals. We have people who have worked at the Vancouver Olympics and at the Canada Games. Over the last decade our sport has become professionalized and we believe strongly, passionately that the organization has to be professional. Organization and innovation are our key principles.

FG_TYS10K13_1349“Everyone from the Olympian to the first-time person at the back of the pack, we want them to have a great racing experience so they will come to love the sport as much as we do. We want to see them coming back to all of our events.”

All CRS runs now have finishers’ medals for everyone in the event, to add to the positive, celebratory atmosphere. Brookes points out that there has been a huge growth in running and in the number of road races across the country. He is committed to raising the standards everywhere.

“There are some very good new events but the quality is very uneven and that is one of the biggest challenges with race directors.” he continues.

“We have the inaugural ‘Race Directors Summit’ hosted by Athletics Canada at STWM this fall to try and work together collaboratively to make sure race organization is consistent and top quality so everyone gets a great experience.”

Members of the team will be working at the 2014 Chicago, Pittsburgh and Houston marathons in an effort find other ways to deliver a better product.

TYS10K14 Medal.web.display-1The team will introduce the latest technology in tracking volunteers and suppliers at Toronto Yonge Street 10k and STWM 2014. “Bar codes and GPS will allow the race Unified Command Centre to track all people, products and vehicles in real time, so that we can literally deliver a better race to all participants,” says Brookes. “We will continue to invest in our people, training, and innovative systems.” Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront will also be launching a state-of-the-art hotel booking system in early March, which allows for easy online bookings at a wide range of more than 20 hotels, and at the best prices available. These are both technologies developed by the Chicago Marathon.

With less than a month to the Modo Spring Run Off 8k the excitement is building and places in all the CRS races starting to fill up. No doubt 2014 will be an even bigger success than in the past.

For information on Canada running Series 2014 events, and ENTRY see http://www.canadarunningseries.com/crs/index.htm

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