TORONTO. July 29th. Canadian women’s distance running has ascended to new heights in recent years and the latest talent to emerge is the ‘Pride of the Rock’, Kate Bazeley.
Two years ago the 30 year old Corner Brook, Newfoundland resident won the Canadian Half Marathon title at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal but then came the birth of her daughter, Amelia and a subsequent maternity leave. Now, back in the best shape of her life, she is intent on scoring a personal best time at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (October 19)
The comeback, thus far, has been incredibly successful. She won the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on May 4th in a new personal best time of 1:15:18 then finished 2nd to Canadian record holder Lanni Marchant at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 22nd. Last weekend she won the 2014 Tely 10 miler in St. John’s with a respectable time of 55:57 missing the Nicola Will’s 1986 course record by ten seconds.
These results have caused tongue wagging amongst the racing community: could she be the next great Canadian distance runner?
Bazeley is the first elite Canadian woman to confirm her place in Toronto which has been awarded IAAF Silver Label Race status since 2008 when the IAAF initiated elite race rankings. The race is also celebrating 25 years of running this year.
“I definitely want to ‘pb’ I want to go under 2:40 for sure,” she declares, “then, possibly get close to, or under, the 2:35 mark. That is like the ‘A’ goal.”
Until now, Bazeley’s one marathon encounter was a low key debut at the 2014 Houston Marathon where she ran a respectable 2:40:49. That was good enough for 7th place and the accompanying $2,000 US prize money – her biggest pay day to date.
“It actually felt pretty good,” she remembers of her debut. “The first ten miles felt great. And the last 7 or 8 km, that was when it was a bit of a struggle. But overall it was a really great experience. I don’t have any complaints about it, really. I did get that very tired feeling towards the end and I started to lose my stride. I felt pretty strong throughout – and positive. I thought it was a great experience.
“It was sort of in the back of my mind – 2:40. Being my first marathon you don’t know what to expect. I really wanted to get out there and run the whole race and finish. I knew that I was capable of running under 2:40 and maybe, on a great day, closer to 2:37 or 2:38. But, I was really happy.”
Since her return to training she has been coached by fellow Canadian marathoner Matt Loiselle ( 2:16:01 personal best) who raced the 2012 Tely 10 miler and was the Bazeley’s house guest on that occasion. They discussed working together at that time. Of course, that was before Kate was pregnant with Amelia. The pair communicate daily by texting, email and the occasional phone call, the latter usually before a race.
“Kate is definitely an athlete that follows directions easily,” says Loiselle. “She’s a very hard worker and is very tough. The only training partner she has out in Corner Brook is Peter (her husband) and, if he can’t run a workout with her, she has to do some pretty long and challenging workouts with no one else around. And she’ll do it, no questions asked.
“She’s got a great attitude and it’s easy to work with her because she doesn’t absolutely obsess about running. She takes it seriously for sure, but she knows there are other things in life and that makes things easy for me.”
One thing she learned from racing Houston was that she needs to increase her mileage. Prior to that race she was managing around 120 kilometres a week topping out at 130km. Loiselle has seen to it that the volume is slowly increasing for Toronto peaking at 150km a week.
Much of this training is done alone or with Peter, (a 2:36:36 marathoner himself), pushing Amelia’s stroller, along picturesque roads which seem to provide inspiration.
“We live near Gros Morne, about forty-five minutes away,” she reveals, touting the UNESCO World Heritage site.
“We have come across moose, many times, caribou, eagles, otters, mink catching fish, The road we run on pretty much every day runs along the Humber River, a really large river on the west coast. We run completely on that road and there’s always wildlife and people out on boats.”
Part of the fascination with their landscape is the fact they moved there only fifteen months ago when Peter took a job as an hospital emergency room physician. Prior to that they had lived in St John’s where Bazeley taught middle school. She is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland – with degrees in nutrition and education – but she has no plans to return to teaching in the immediate future.
Bazeley admits seeking advice from fellow Canadian marathoner, Krista DuChene (2:28:32) especially about running on a treadmill. She says the roads in Corner Brook aren’t cleared of snow in the winter and she found it necessary to run on the treadmill for a couple of the worst months. Other than that she searches for helpful information on the internet.
“I do read a lot,” she confirms. “ When things pop up on social media or in a magazine I definitely take note and have a look, see what people are talking about mileage, nutrition, fueling, recovery, all of that. I do know what I should be doing and now I just have to go out and do it.
“And I did look up what a 2:35 was equivalent to in a half marathon. I think it was close to a 1:14 low and I know that I have work to do because my best (Half marathon) is 1:15 low. But Matt thinks that, based on my workouts, I could be able to run 2:35 mark. I sort of go by what he thinks.”
That time would take her into pretty elite company and make her competitive. Most significantly it would illustrate the enormous potential she has at the marathon distance while continuing the trend of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon aiding Canadians in their pursuit of international class racing. It’s an exciting prospect for sure.