TORONTO. March 18th. If history is the judge the 2014 Harry’s Spring Run Off on April 5th will generate as much excitement as any other footrace in its thirty-seven year history. Over the years this 8km race through Toronto’s picturesque High Park has attracted Olympians from the UK, Kenya, Ireland, USA as well as Canada’s best.
Indeed in 1994 an unknown Kenyan by the name of Daniel Komen set the course record of 22:35 before going on to win the 1997 IAAF World Championships 5,000m gold medal and set world records over 3,000m and 5,000m. As always the race has given runners of all abilities the chance to test themselves on a challenging but scenic course.
Krista DuChene, who powered away from the field over the final hill, is back to defend her 2013 title (26:58) but faces a quality field chief among them Tarah Korir.
Korir moved to Kenya last September following the birth of her son, Jayden. Her husband is Wesley Korir the 2012 Boston Marathon champion and now the sitting Member of Kenyan Parliament for Cherangany district – hence the move. Two years ago Tarah won Harry’s in 27:12 and then went on to win the Toronto Yonge St 10k. Both events are part of the renowned Canada Running Series.
Since January the couple’s three year old daughter, McKayla Chepchirchir, has been attending a primary school in Cherangany, which has freed up some time for her mother to get in more consistent training.
“I wasn’t that consistent for the first few months,” Korir admits. “I wasn’t really sure where we were staying with Wesley working in Nairobi – he has to be in parliament three days a week – and in Cherangany. We were back and forth a lot. I was sort of running when I could but slowly increasing the amount; a lot of easy miles.
“It was really in January that I started doing consistent training every day. I have mostly been training by myself. Some days I go running with Wesley when he goes on easy days. A guy, who is trying to get a US scholarship, has been staying with us. I run with him sometimes too. If you are staying in Nairobi the place to go, if you are a runner, is Ngong. If you get up at 6:30 in the morning you will see a lot of runners and I sometimes jump in with a group. Most of the running I do is on soft surface roads. My workouts have been some tempo runs and fartlek (speed play).”
Over the Christmas holidays Korir’s parents and sister visited her in Kenya and the time together was both social and work related. Wesley and Tarah, along with her parents, have formed the Kenyan Kids Foundation Canada a charitable organization which strives to improve education, health and wellbeing for Kenyan children. The organization is seeking charitable status (www.kenyankidsfoundation.ca). Now she has plans to race at her previous level.
“I feel that since January my fitness has been coming along,” she reports. “I am not sure it is where it was at two years ago. I don’t know I haven’t ever stayed this long in Kenya at altitude. I feel like I am getting fit again but I am not at my peak yet. I am excited to race again in a competitive environment. I always like to race close to home.”
Despite being in the midst of completing a training base with easy runs of one hour supplemented by longer tempo runs of 1.5 to two hours she has found herself in two races in Kenya already.
Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, has been behind a series of half marathon races in each of the 47 counties across the country. They are in support of maternal and child health. Since Korir is a mother of two and Wesley is both a father and an MP, they decided it was a noble cause for them to run together in support of the initiative. Completing the distance has her now entertaining the notion of adding the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal to her racing schedule when she comes to Canada for April and May.
Korir has adapted to life in Kenya. The biggest challenge, she says, has been incorporating her husband’s political career into their home life.
“I think when Wesley became an MP our lives changed in many ways,” she reveals. “It became so busy. There’s not a lot of time for the two of us. He is an MP in an area with people who constantly want to talk with him.
“The nice thing about Kenya is that most families have mother’s helpers. A lot of girls finish high school and they might help with a family for a short period of time. Makayla leaves for school early in the morning and I go for a run. The girl that stays with us stays with Jaden when I run.”
The 2014 Harry’ Spring Run Off 8k is over 90% sold out at this point and Race Director Alan Brookes promises another professionally organized event.
For more information and race registration: www.canadarunningseries.com