TORONTO. April 5th. Kenya’s Paul Kimugul [24:09] and Krista DuChene [27:45] took the men’s and women’s titles at the 36th Annual Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K to fight prostate cancer on a chilly, blustery morning in High Park, as Canada Running Series 2014 got rolling in Toronto. A sold out crowd of almost 2,700 toed the line for the 10am start, with the thermometer at 2c, and strong, gusty winds. Another 1,800 ran the accompanying 5K later in the morning, and almost 200 kids were undeterred by the cool morning to take on their 800m event. As befitting the tradition of the race, and “Opening Day” for the Series in Eastern Canada, a competitive line up Canadian distance runners were out to do battle.
The men’s race saw a highly-competitive, see-saw tussle between Kimugul, last year’s winner Sami Jibril of Athletics Toronto, and Speed River’s Olympian Eric Gillis who was the 2012 race champion. These three broke away early, but the contest was not decided until the final gut-wrenching 600m charge up Spring Road Hill. On the legendary stiff incline, Jibril came back on Gillis to move into second, but was successfully fought off by Kimugul. They finished in 24:09 and 24:11, with Gillis jogging home from the top of the hill in 24:20. While the veteran Kimugul showed his class, especially coming back just 6
days after his win at the Around the Bay 30k, the performance of the day most-likely belonged to Sami Jibril. The 24-year old Somali-Canadian, who works nights for the TTC and trains in the day, is clearly moving up to a new level.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “It was an excellent PB, and a good time, especially given the conditions. I felt a little bit of pressure after last year’s win, and Eric and Paul out there. I knew I was going to have to work hard. I hung in there, and we took shots at each other throughout the race.It all came together with 2k to go. Paul strung us out a bit, and it was just racing from there. I kinda surprised myself catching Eric. I was focussing on Paul, but I was a little bit scared. Scared running! I couldn’t quite catch him, but I’m happy with the way I ran.” A visibly disappointed Eric Gillis said he felt tired, especially near the end, and never felt comfortable. “I know I can race better than that,” he said. He’ll get an early chance to do that, anchoring the East Team in the East-West Challenge at Toronto Yonge Street 10K next Sunday. And he’ll get a re-match with Sami Jibril at the Banque Scoitia 21K de Montreal on April 27th, for the National Championship. It will be Jibril’s debut at the longer distance.
The contest between Krista DuChene, Harry’s 2013 champion, and Tarah Korir, 2012 champ, never materialized as DuChene demolished the field as well as the High Park hills, to win by over a minute, 27:44 to 28:47. Brantford’s “Marathon Mom” was also racing 6 days after Around the Bay, but seemed similarly unaffected. She went out hard, and was already 30m clear by 2k. It was a lead she steadily extended, as she cruised around the second half of the course for the convincing victory.
Behind the leaders there were lots of smiles, not the least of which belonged to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation who took home a large cheque from Harry Rosen CEO, Larry Rosen and the runners for $186,000, to support the fight against prostate cancer. This brought the total raised during Harry Rosen’s 9 year sponsorship to $2.6 million. Both Larry Rosen and CFO Conrad Frejlich ran the 8K. Councillor Sarah Doucette flipped pancakes for the High Park Nature Conservancy. High Park Members of
Parliament Peggy Nash and Cheri DiNovo were both out to cheer on the runners. And Councillor Mike Layton and Olivia Chow sounded the Start horns then jumped in and ran the 5K. Despite the chilly conditions, there was a fine sense of occasion as the Toronto community came out to launch a new season.
For complete Results see http://www.canadarunningseries.com/springrunoff/csroRESULT.htm
Next up, the dash down Yonge: Toronto Yonge Street 10k, Sunday, April 13th. www.Toronto10k.ca