TORONTO. April 13th. Two time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis sprinted home to victory in this morning’s Toronto Yonge Street 10k in a time of 28:32 after a heated battle with Toronto based Kenyan Paul Kimugul.
A pack of five had passed 5km in 14:27 before the pace quickened, dropping both Kip Kangogo and Vancouver’s Rob Watson. Gillis waited until the final six hundred metres when he surprised his rival with a turn of speed. His margin of victory was four seconds by the finish as Kimugul, the winner of the recent Around the Bay 30k race, came home in 28:36.
“I really feel good at this distance and the half marathon right now,” Gillis said afterwards. “I took extra time over the winter to work on some speed. I went indoors and worked out with the University of Guelph guys and I got my legs turning over.
“This is the one I really wanted to win. The Yonge Street 10k has been very competitive over the last number of years. So, when I am planning my race schedule I know this one will be competitive and I can really focus on it and have competition. I have finished second here a few times, I had yet to win it so I really wanted to win.”
Kip Kangogo claimed third place in a time of 29:08. A week ago the Kenyan born athlete received his Canadian citizenship and admits he has been smiling ever since.
The women’s race was a tremendous competition despite the late withdrawal of West co-captain Natasha Wodak and provided Toronto’s Rachel Hannah with a breakthrough opportunity. The 28 year old ran alongside Canadian international marathoner Krista DuChene up until the last five hundred metres before she kicked hard. She earned an eight second margin finishing in 32:33 to DuChene’s 32:41.
“Basically the last four or five hundred metres I felt I had a little bit left and I knew we were approaching the finish line,” Hannah revealed. “This is my third year doing this race so I knew where to kick and get into the last gear.
“It feels really excellent (to win in Toronto). I wish I could have worked a little bit more with (DuChene) during the race and this feels good my third year out. I am going to do the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal next.”
DuChene who represented Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships marathon in Moscow, and hopes to be picked to run in the Commonwealth Games this year, was upbeat despite her loss.
“Yes, I am happy but, you know what, I think I am more happy for Rachel,” she declared. “The girl is just phenomenal. We connected a few years ago, she and I both being dietitians. I am just thrilled to see her putting in the work slowly and consistently and look at the girl. She flew past me. I led for like nine and a half kilometres and she was gone. “A couple of times in the race I thought I was on my own and my mind started wandering, like it does in the marathon. Then I heard people shouting ‘Go girls’ and I thought “Whoa, what’s going on?’ You could tell she was tired of being second or third place and she knows the course. You could just tell, she knew the corners and the turns not that there’s that many. But I am happy. I am in a good place, I am fit, I am healthy. It’s fun doing all these races. And the East – West rivalry we will see how it goes but I think the East did ok!!”
Third place went to Erin Burrett of Nanaimo, BC in 33.29.
Meanwhile, Wodak had been doing nothing but pool running to rehabilitate her foot but after visiting a physiotherapist Saturday afternoon was warned not to race. The 32 year old has also withdrawn from next month’s Ottawa Marathon.
The first ever East versus West team concept was implemented in this race with the times of the top two males and females for each team added together. The lowest cumulative time earned the East vs. West Challenge Trophy.
The East team handily won with Hannah and DuChene finishing one-two in the women’s race and Eric Gillis winning and Peter Corrigan finishing fourth. The East total time was 2 hours 3 minutes and nine seconds while the West countered with 2 hours 7 minutes.
The manager of the East team, Chris Moulton was complimentary of the concept. Having returned from the FISU world university cross country championships in Uganda, where he was the head coach of the Canadian team, he is used to the team concept.
“It’s good natured,” he declared. “Obviously with Tasha (Wodak) not being able to run that hurt their team because she is an extremely strong athlete.
“Eric was in great shape, Peter we didn’t know what to expect because he is a track runner. What can you say about Rachel Hannah and Krista? That is a breakthrough run for Rachel. We could see it coming and a win in this kind of event is going to be huge for her confidence. It’s a fun concept, a good little battle.”
More than 7,000 runners raced Toronto’s premier 10k race with many contributing over $50,000 to ten official charities including Right To Play, Kids Up Front and Camp Toronto Triple Threat Bursary Fund. Sick Children’s Hospital had their own Justice League super heroes dressed in costumes including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman and Cat Woman.