TORONTO. October 19th. The times might have been slower than expected from the world class fields but the racing was spectacular today at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
The strong men’s field had targeted the course record – Derissa Chimsa’s 2:07:05 from a year ago – and at the half way point it appeared they were still committed despite the cold temperatures and blustery wind. But those conditions weren’t conducive to fast times. Instead the thousands lining the course and many thousands more watching live on youtube were treated to an excellent race.
Five men beat 2 hours 10 minutes with four under 2:09. The surprise champion was Kenya’s Laban Korir who went to the front with only three kilometres remaining to claim first place in 2:08:15. Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia finished second in 2:08:36 with Shami Abdulahi, one of two competitors who has beaten 2 hours 6 minutes in recent years, third in 2:08:39.
Two pacemakers took the leaders through halfway in a very quick 1:03:15. But the pace slowed as the course turned up hill along the Bayview extension. After they dropped out at 30k it was Kenya’s Peter Some who surged ahead. Only fellow Kenyan Patrick Terer was able to stay with him and it appeared the two would battle for victory.
But with only four kilometres remaining Korir and Jufar came into view and flew past the leaders. Korir would say later that he had experienced a pain in his calf and slowed for a few kilometres allowing it to recover. Over the final kilometre he ran away from Jufar to claim the $20,000 first place prize.
“I was not expecting to win the race I was targeting to be in the top three as I said at the press conference,” Korir said with a smile.
“At first the pace was ok. First we went through half way in 63 and I was thinking it would be a 2:06 winning time. My target was 2:06. I see my fellow (training) colleagues running so well like Emanuel Mutai (2nd in Berlin) and Eliud Kipchoge (Chicago winner) they ran good. They are the guys who train with me.”
“After 30k I felt something tender in my legs so I decided to set my own pace and that was ok. I was looking back I saw the Ethiopian guy was behind me. I was worried because I saw the guy (Jufar) who had won some races and I thought he might beat me.”
Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia, the 2008 Toronto winner, emerged victorious in the women’s race. In addition to the $20,000 prize money she was rewarded with a new personal best time of 2:23:15. Though she crossed the line with her trademark grin she collapsed shortly afterwards and was wheeled to the medical tent.
Through the latter part of the race it was her friend and compatriot Amane Gobena, the 2009 Toronto winner, who had offered the biggest challenge but she faded in the last five kilometres and eventually finished 4th.
Belarusian Aliaksandra Duliba, 6th in Boston 2:21:29 this year wound up 2nd in 2:24:43 with Rael Kiyara of Kenya third in 2:27:10
“I am so happy but the time? The weather was a problem and because of that I didn’t make a good time,” said Seboka, “But still it was ok.
“I am not sure, I didn’t see the official time, but I think this time today is my best. For sure if the weather is better I can get a good time. Everybody came here to win. When I took the lead I felt I was going to win.”
Duliba was not pleased with her own performance though her boyfriend Vitaliy Shafar of Ukraine would finish 5th in 2:09:53.
“I am not going to lie to you,” said the Belarusian. “I am very disappointed with the result But now, when I think about, it is a good lesson for me. I will run fast in another marathon. But I am going to use this as a good experience.”
Canadian women’s record holder Lanni Marchant went out very hard aiming to beat the record she set a year ago 2:28:00 but her calf cramped around 27 kilometres. The cold weather was to blame, she said. Still she finished a credible 7th in 2:31:06
“Our first 5km was definitely too quick,” she said. “We were well under the pace we talked about last night. I think everybody got a little bit excited. I tried to run off the back of my pacers and I still came through a little quick. But then we settled down and got into the rhythm of the pace.
“My left calf went at around 27 or 28km. Last year I had 37 k before my calf went so I had a lot longer this year that I was having to run with that calf. And that wind this year, I got cold. It wasn’t the perfect day I had last year. I knew that was a bit of a risk. I have no regrets.”
“I was looking at doing New York or Chicago but at the end of the day I thought I would come and race here. There were so many people who got up in the middle of the night to watch me run Glasgow (Commonwealth Games where she was 4th) and so I owed it to the people of Canada to come here.”
The other leading Canadian marathoner, two time Olympian Eric Gillis was on Canadian record pace through the first 25km but also succumbed to the cold. He was all smiles however, upon finishing 9th in a new personal best of 2:11:21.
“I thought I was capable of running 2:10:30 or 2:10 low in a best case scenario,” the resident of Guelph, Ontario revealed. “You rarely get best case scenario in the marathon but I will take this. I will take it. Mentally I felt like I stayed in it. My quads were so heavy the last six kilometres but that was what they could do.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal to be honest (falling off 2:10 pace). There was a small percentage chance I would get it. It wasn’t like the Olympic standard where I either get it or I don’t. This is a very good stepping stone for that. I am 34 and still running my best time, and enjoying it. Feels good.”
Marathon fans around the world watched the race live streamed on YouTube with former British Olympian, Tim Hutchings, Canadian marathon star, Krista DuChene and Michael Doyle (editor of Canadian Running magazine) providing commentary.