Between A Serving Of Bacon And Chocolate Milk. By Petja Taivassalo

TORONTO July 6th 2014. Since lacing up his first pair of “real” running shoes to start running with his wife 4 years ago, it didn’t take long for Digital Champion Petja Taivassalo to become addicted to the enjoyment of getting lost in thought on long runs and giving/receiving the “runner’s nod” of acceptance along the trails in Newmarket, Ontario. Already having completed 2 full marathons and a handful of Around the Bay Road Races, Petja is excited to take part in his first STWM before he is no longer in his 30′s. Connect with Petja on Twitter @MrTDoesPE and on his blog.

Between A Serving Of Bacon And Chocolate Milk. By Petja Taivassalo.

Tribe SelfieSitting in a breakfast diner last Saturday eating brunch, after a great 14k run, I looked around and it hit me, I have truly started my running journey.  Being a “lone wolf” runner, I was seriously out of my element, but that day something just felt so right.  There was so much for me to take in. This is was my first official outing as a member of the the 2014 STWM Digital Champions and I got up ridiculously early on the first day of my summer vacation to meet up with the crew from Tribe Fitness.  I spent the entire run talking with an amazing group of runners about life, music, super heroes, running digestion issues, you know, things all us runners have to deal with, and now I found myself sitting down eating a gigantic plate of “paleo-ness” with a group of people who all shared the same passion, we run, and we love it.

This is it, I have officially taken this thing that we are all supposedly “Born” to do and have committed to taking it to a new level; for me that meant actually training. You see, my wife Andrea and I officially joined the running community only about 4 years ago.  However I really never took to following any kind of plan, or schedule and would go out once, sometimes twice a week to run as far as I could. Then, I would “test” myself entering a 21.1, several 30 and two 42.2 races but I still couldn’t buy into this “organized” running idea.

The funny thing is… the act of putting one foot in front of another in the hopes of getting a medal and a really cool t-shirt (or painters cap as per the 1982 Boston Marathon!) was something that I can remember since I was little.  Growing up on Long Island, New York, I spent many hours watching from the sidelines as my dad Keijo Taivassalo showed me from an early age exactly what “SISU” (a Finnish word roughly translates to determination and perseverance) means as he trained for and competed in marathons all over the world.  I can still remember the smell (grossly enough) of his original “running room” that he had in the basement where he hung his really short shorts and running shirts to dry after every run.  Or even just how salty he was when he would give us all a big hug and kiss after crossing the finish line after a race.

Petja with daughterFast forward 20 some years , and you guessed it,  life has come full circle.  I have my own running shrine, hung with the wretched smelling garb of past battles just waiting to fight again, and I find myself taking such immense pleasures in hearing the “Ewwwws” and wiggling of my own kids as I give them a great big thank you hug for cheering me on. I am so fortunate that my EVERY day (except for the well needed 2 month summer holiday) is spent showing, and sometimes reminding, kids how to play, be active, and promote being healthy and physically literate all in the guise of having FUN.  Being a HPE teacher, I am surrounded by kids on either end of the “activity spectrum”, and I try my hardest to motivate them to get moving and enjoy the spoils of living a healthy, active lifestyle.

But this is my turn.  This is my chance to prove to myself that I can do it.  Now, I look to my students and family for motivation and inspiration to help me along my journey. In fact,  I’m getting pumped up just writing this! (perhaps this DC-ing is as much a motivator for ourselves as well as others!) Entering this new world of running, I realize that being able to run 5, 10, 42.2km is such a gift.  As we post our trials and tribulations with “Runner’s Nipple” or chaffing in places we don’t talk about (Thanks BodyGlide!)  we need to remind ourselves that it is pretty amazing that we can do this.   Even though some people choose not to run and others cannot, we lace up,  go out, and pound the pavement with a smile. We need to cherish each step, each breath and remember that we are lucky to be members of this amazing community.

On my last long slow training run, I found myself lost in thought, asking “is this what it feels like to be a professional runner, like Lanni or Meb?” I mean now I have a coach with a real plan (Thanks to the great group at OnTrack Health and Fitness), I go on group runs (Thank you Heather and Tribe Fitness), I am blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking my running adventures.  I mean, I am actually trying to be more aware of what I eat and do! Ahhhh! What’s happening to me…..

Pass the bacon please…..

Petja selfie

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Eric Gillis confirmed, prepares to run fast at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2014

TORONTO. July 3. It gives me enormous pleasure to make ERIC GILLIS our first Pro Athlete announcement for the 25th Anniversary running of our Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon event. Eric has been an important part of the recent history of the race. None of us who were there, or watched the broadcast, will ever forget his “eyeballs-out” sprint to the line in 2011, to achieve the qualifying standard for the London 2012 Olympic marathon by one second [see photo below]. Imagine. All that training. Racing 42.195 kilometres. And you make your Olympic dream by ONE second. One step to glory! One step away!

Eric is a marvelous ambassador for STWM, and for our sport of distance running in Canada. As a two-time Olympian he is the consummate professional — dedicated, determined and tremendously hard-working. He is a remarkably consistent performer.

Beyond that he is a wonderful role model, not just as an athlete, but as a husband, father, and someone committed to getting out in the community to make it a better place. He’s especially great with kids and schools groups. Paul Gains’ latest feature speaks to some of Eric’s skills in balancing life, family and running at the highest international levels.

GOOD LUCK to everyone training over the next few months. I look forward with excitement and anticipation to seeing all of you cross that Finish Line on Bay Street with Eric on October 19th.

Alan Brookes, Race Director.


Eric Gillis Rebuilding For 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Eric Gillis in his famous, all-out sprint to the STWM Finish line in 2011, that earned him a place at the London Olympics by ONE second

Eric Gillis in his famous, all-out sprint to the STWM Finish line in 2011, that earned him a place at the London Olympics by ONE second

Less is more as Eric Gillis looks ahead to the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this coming October 19th searching for a new personal best time.

The 34 year old, who has twice represented Canada at the Olympic Games, understands the importance of taking the pedal off the metal occasionally to rebuild, not only the body, but the mind. He plans on being refreshed and replenished when he lines up for this IAAF Silver Label race for the fourth time in his career.

On May 25th he won the 2014 Canadian men’s marathon title in Ottawa to highlight a busy spring racing schedule. More recently he and his family have been spending time at his parent’s home in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. While family time has been precious when he returns to Guelph in early August he will begin the necessary buildup towards the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

“I did quite a bit of racing in the spring so I am taking a step back,” he explains. “I am getting out there once a day and putting in a solid run, then getting to the gym more and more, getting into a routine. I am putting in the work training wise, a couple of hours in the morning. That’s it for running.

“I will do a little less racing leading up to Toronto and put the emphasis on time. In Ottawa I was looking at tactics and executing my racing strategy, which was to try and run a negative split and work the back end. I felt quite good after Ottawa and felt I raced quite well. The buildup for Toronto will be more emphasis on running a personal best time and getting the most out of my training on that day time-wise.”

Eric Gillis finishes 5th overall in a top international field [2:11:49] at STWM 2013

Eric Gillis finishes 5th overall in a top international field [2:11:49] at STWM 2013

Gillis’s three best marathon times have all been run on the Toronto course. Who doesn’t remember his Olympic qualifying mark at the 2011 edition of the race when he ran 2:11:28 to earn his place? Last year he came close to that personal best running 2:11:49. But he remembers fondly the 2010 Toronto race where he recorded 2:12:08 making a big breakthrough.

“I like the weather that I had in 2010 in Toronto which was my first time doing the Toronto race,” Gillis says. “The course is good enough to run a fast time. I enjoy turning back against the masses on Lakeshore, I enjoy that stretch.

“It’s a course that I feel I can run well on and run fast. You know what? After running it three times and, being mostly happy each time, I have the feeling I can run fast. Especially 2011 when I had my personal best on that course. The course is fine. The pavement doesn’t change but the wind that day was crazy. To run fast on a crazy windy course then ….if I were to get a day like 2010 again that would give me the opportunity to run fast. I know I have done it before and can do it again.”

As always he gives credit to the Canada Running Series team and Race Director Alan Brookes for providing a setup designed for Canadian marathoners to run fast times. The pacemakers chosen to help the elite Canadians are one factor and the enormous crowd support is another.

“I definitely felt the support with shouts of “Go Reid (Coolsaet), Go Eric” and then with the half marathon finishing and the crowds around the finish at that time,” he recalls. “There were people in 2011 who even said that they had their goal to finish the half marathon to watch me finish. That was neat. So the atmosphere is definitely supportive.”

The active ‘sabbatical’ Gillis has been taking for Toronto has also taken off some of the strain his wife Emily bears when he is in pure marathon training mode. A few years ago the couple bought some land near his parents’ home and are going to landscape it for camping purposes – a ‘back to basics’ experience for them and their two young children.

“You eat up more time when training for a marathon,” he explains. “Recovery is more important. There’s getting to bed on time at night and getting the sleep. It’s actually more work for my wife, with Emily having to get up with the kids through the night, then she’s the first one up in the morning. She did that with Ottawa. She is supportive of that and I am able to keep running because of it. That something that is a challenge but we are up for it for the next cycle.”

Despite his enviable curriculum vitae he remains well motivated according to his long time coach, Dave Scott-Thomas.

A hungry Eric Gillis was absolutely determined to be 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K  champion!

A hungry Eric Gillis was absolutely determined to be 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K champion!

“Yes. I see the hunger as strong as ever,” the coach declares. “I think there’s a combination of forces that get people out the door running and certainly some of it, in his case, is the pragmatic element, it’s his job. He works very, very hard at it. But at the root of it, he just genuinely loves it.

“I don’t think you can ever replace that and swap things out. This has been a really fun year. He’s been in a different zone and that was conscious on both our parts. Early on we felt the Commonwealth Games was not going to fit into the program, So we wanted to make this a year of just doing everything we needed to do with his body and mind to just feel good and he has been racing through the roof and been showing up and working hard. He’s got that big grin on his face and he’s ready for more.”

Both Gillis and Scott-Thomas believe there’s a fast time in the cards whether it is in Toronto this year or elsewhere. And he is not completely satisfied with two Olympic appearances either.

Eric followed up his Yonge Street 10K triumph in April by successfully defending his National Half-marathon title at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

Eric followed up his Yonge Street 10K triumph in April by successfully defending his National Half-marathon title at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

“Certainly running a time in Toronto that got people excited that would give me that elation,” Gillis reveals. “Sub 2:10 is a number that I would really enjoy. It’s possible. I don’t think I can take it for granted and I don’t know when I will do it and I am certainly not predicting it in Toronto. But it’s something that would be fun for me to do. That and finishing top 16 at the 2016 Olympics would be another one that would put a smile on my face. Those are two things that, if the stars aligned, that would be quite fun.”
Gillis is the first elite athlete to be named for this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and over the coming weeks he will be joined by some of the world’s best. All add to the competitive nature exuding from the race, a 25 year old fixture on the calendar, as a matter of fact. Gillis will revel in the excitement and hope it leads to that personal best he covets.


For More Information and to register: (next price increase is July 28th).

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Running? Why Would I Do That? By Michael Lobsinger

TORONTO June 29th 2014. Why does Digital Champion Michael Lobsinger run? To be more awesome, that’s why. His philosophy on life is why keep doing what you’re doing if you can be doing something better or doing more? That’s how he’s approached his running. He started with 5k obstacle runs and ran his first half-marathon at STWM last fall. This year Michael is excited to join the Digital Champions taking on the full marathon on October 19th! Connect with Michael on Twitter @mLob_Creative.

Running? Why Would I Do That? By Michael Lobsinger.

Here I am writing my first blog as a Digital Michael Lobsinger and Steve LaytonChampion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That feels like a large responsibility. I think it means I’m supposed to tell people my story and hopefully inspire them to run more and live healthier. Wow, big stuff.

So lets start with a story. Everyone likes stories!

Once upon a time there was a young kid. He was gifted with a good metabolism and basically didn’t need to worry too much about what he did or ate because he stayed in relatively decent shape no matter what. Yeah for genetics!

Then he turned 30. Boo!

Bad eating, laziness and a few other things started to catch up. Nothing too bad, a little overweight, aches and pains that shouldn’t have been, exhaustion when he wasn’t tired and difficulty bending over to tie shoe laces (that one felt the worst). In addition to that the emotional problems started to creep in and were getting out of control. Anxiety, depression, stress… all those fun things that creep up on you when you’re sitting around doing nothing with too much time to think.

So it was time to change.

The boy’s best friend (and fellow Digital Champion) Steve had already started running and he was happier. That was good, but running? Eww. No thanks! When people asked the boy why he didn’t run, or ride a bike or do anything active, he would reply: “Why would I do that? I have a drivers license. I have feet so I can work the gas, brake and clutch. I don’t want to do something boring and dumb like running.”

Then his friend Steve presented an interesting challenge. He said Hey Mike, you know how you’re a comic book nerd? How would you like to do an obstacle race that’s kind of like Superhero training?” SOLD!

Michael LobsingerSuddenly running seemed like a means to an ends. Although the boy still hated running he was competitive and wanted to do well at the race, so he started training.

A few years later and a with a few fun run/obstacle races under his belt, suddenly running wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Steve came to him again. “Hey Mike, this organization called CRS has asked me to be a Digital Champion for the Yonge Street 10k. You should do it with me.”

Digital Champion. That sounded cool. So he signed up for the 10k to support his friend. By now running was becoming a lot more fun. The boy felt better, was less emotionally disturbed and he was looking dead sexy!

When the 10k was done, the boy was hooked! He loved this stuff, and he loved the medals and the feeling of pride and accomplishment he got from the races. Again Steve said “Hey Mike, now I’m a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, you know you want to do it with me?”

There was no hesitation this time. He signed up for his first half marathon and trained all summer. It was great. He felt great. He looked great. He loved it. By the time the half marathon came around he was already excited and wishing he’d trained for the full marathon!

That’s where the story brings us to today.

I’m training for my first ever marathon with the CRS team and I get to be a Digital Champion for it on the 25th anniversary of the run of all things!

This is going to be great! I love using my feet for something other than a stupid car.
I can’t wait for STWM to get here this year. I’m excited about training. I’m excited about the people I’ll get to meet along the way and I’m excited about this new accomplishment I’m going to achieve.

Thanks CRS for the opportunity. Thank you Steve for getting me going. And most importantly, thank you me, for being awesome and working for this! Man, I’m great!

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Coming Back From Defeat. By Lisa Davidson

June 26th 2014. TORONTO. Lisa Davidson is thrilled to be back as a STWM Digital Champion for the second time. Lisa has raced every distance from 5K to the marathon and is excited to lace up for another 42.2K run around Toronto on October 19th. Lisa believes in the importance of both mental and physical well-being and strives to inspire others to lead a healthy and active life-style. When she’s not training or teaching Yoga, she’s chasing after her very active 3-year old boy. Connect with Lisa on Twitter @TorontoFitMom and on her blog.

Coming Back From Defeat. By Lisa Davidson.

2014 DC STWM Lisa DavidsonBQ. Boston Qualifier. It doesn’t matter if it is abbreviated or not, when runners speak these words or initials, something happens. A longing, desire, drive, whatever you want to call it, we get hungry. People have it in their ‘about me’ sections on social media. You know: runner, #STWM digital champion, Boston Qualifier. To get that qualifying time puts in you in a different running class and to get in to the marathon and run it? Well don’t even get me started on the prestige! The jackets, the hype! And in Boston….a city that I LOVE!

When I ran my first marathon back in 2008, I knew of the hard to get BQ, but I just wanted to run a marathon and didn’t think anything of it. In the back of my mind I thought maybe one day, but focusing on finishing my first marathon was a priority. Fast forward to my second marathon (STWM) in 2013 and let’s just say my view changed slightly….ok a lot, I wanted it bad! I did my training, I did my yoga, and I was feeling good. October 20th I woke up and was anxious to get going. I felt amazing until about 32k when I felt pain so intense it slowed me down to a pace that I knew would not get me that BQ.

I didn’t get it that day. I crossed the finish line and I was in tears, and not the happy emotional kind, the I am devastated and absolutely crushed kind. Never mind that I had just crossed the finish line of a marathon, an amazing accomplishment on its own (and in 4:11, no less about an hour faster than my first), there was no amount of support to make me feel better. I swore I would never again run a full marathon.

I saw my chiropractor, I got massages. Even today, my piriformis on the left side is still painful and has limited my flexibility, which as a yoga teacher is a real pain in the butt (no pun intended). More than the physical pain, I spent a long time feeling completely defeated and broken emotionally. I wanted that BQ so bad I could taste it. I was being told from some people that maybe I just shouldn’t be running the full, that maybe my “body just can’t handle it”, which just upset me more. I didn’t want to hear the “You know you are closer to 40” excuse anymore either, I wanted everyone to just stop talking.

In November, I joined a gym where I started doing strength training 2- 3 days a week, and with the nasty winter we had I did a lot of running on the treadmill. I ran outside as much as I could despite the cold, slush, snow, ice.. The spring came andI was happy to be back as a digital champion ambassador for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K. I ran that race in a minute  faster than the previous year and I started to feel like a runner again.

With talk of STWM 2014 buzzing on social media, I was Lisa sore today strong tomorrowbeing asked by many of my running friends if I was going to run it again. I honestly didn’t know, I would sigh and say “I think so”. The truth is I was constantly going back and forth in my mind. I knew I could finish a marathon, but finishing was no longer good enough. I started training with a coach (who is perfect for me!) in May, and I have started to really see what I am capable of as a runner.

Despite all these very positive changes, I still doubt myself. One day I made up my mind  that I was no longer running marathons, only half-marathons. Then I woke up the next morning and I saw that someone had posted the “There’s a Hero in All of Us” STWM video from last year, and I cried because I knew in my gut I was not finished with the marathon yet! After speaking about my fears with my coach, he told me that this year was going to be different and that he would help me every step of the way. Isn’t that what coaches are for? After CRS asked me back as a Digital Champion, I took it as a sign that I needed to run STWM this  year.

So here we are, four months from another full marathon. Am I anxious? Yes, of course. But here’s the thing – I love running, I really do and I am proud that I am now a full-fledged #runnerd. I am getting stronger every day and I am even cross training in the pool. I am taking it one day at a time, one workout at a time. Want to know what my goal is this year? I am keeping it under wraps for now, but I promise I will let you all know what happens at the race.

I am going to enjoy my training, enjoy the entire process and have fun. I will run STWM with thousands of other runners and when I cross the finish line this year, if there are tears they will be tears of happiness. No matter what. I’m back!

What’s your goal at STWM this year?

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Wykes and Marchant notch emphatic victories at Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon. $830,000 raised for charity.

Dylan's back... leading the pack!

Dylan’s back… leading the pack!

VANCOUVER. June 22nd. Dylan Wykes and Lanni Marchant showed why they are Canada’s #1 ranked Men’s and Women’s marathoners with emphatic victories at today’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon. Wykes ran 63:52 for his win; Marchant 73:41 for the Women’s crown. Conditions were perfect for the 4,000 half-marathoners who lined up at UBC at 7:30am. Skies were clear and bright, the temperature was 12c, and there was hardly a breath of wind throughout the majestic course along Pacific shores, down to world-famous Stanley Park. Another 2,100 participants ran and walked in the accompanying 5K in the park. Combined, the 6,100 entrants came from 29 countries, 8 Canadian provinces, and 30 American states. Together, they raised an impressive $830,000 for 79 mostly-local charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.
The story of the day was “Dylan’s back”! It’s been 2 years of injuries and fatigue as Wykes has battled back from his London Olympic marathon journey that saw him race 4 hard marathons in a year. Under the guidance of Coach Richard Lee at the BC Endurance Project he has worked his way back to 140km to 160km training

Dylan Wykes racing along scenic Spanish Banks

Dylan Wykes racing along scenic Spanish Banks

weeks, and 2 solid 10K performances this Spring – -a 29:11 in the Sun Run in April and a 29:40 in Ottawa on May 24th. Today was his first longer-distance race, and he meant business from the Start. He pulled a pack of 5 through the first kilometre in 2:50. By 3km [8:44] they were down to four: Wykes, defending champion Kip Kangogo who has owned this race, winning 4 of the last 5 editions, Rob Watson and Athletics Toronto’s Sami Jibril. After the group cruised through 5km in 14:49, Dylan began to turn the screws. First his training partner Watson slipped back, then Kangogo and Jibril together. He passed 10k in a brisk 29:31, and 15k in 44:53. Although he tired a little in the numerous turns around Kits Point [16k to 18k] and over the challenging Burrard Bridge [18k to 19k], he crossed the line almost a minute and a half clear of a beaten Kangogo [65:14]. Watson came back on Jibril on the hill to West 4th at 12k then held on for 3rd [67:16], with Jibril 4th in 67:38. Victoria, BC, Masters’ star, Jim Finlayson, who set a new provincial 10,000m on the track 2 weeks ago [31:04] came on to take 5th in 68:21. A visibly delighted Wykes said, “It felt great today. At least for about 15k! The second half was tough, with no one to push me, but I’m pleased with the win.” Kangogo, who won the Calgary Marathon just 3 weeks ago said he was “running on marathon legs. When Dylan made the move at 5km I couldn’t go with him. I tried to stay close, and closed the gap a bit in Jericho [11km to 12km]. I thought I could close it more on Burrard Bridge but the gap was just too big.” It was the only time in 6 years that Kip has failed to run 63 minutes on the course.

Lanni Marchant with an authoritative performance

Lanni Marchant with an authoritative performance

Lanni Marchant also had something to prove, as she toed the line in her final tune-up before running for Canada in the Commonwealth Games Marathon on July 27th in Glasgow, Scotland. Following her outstanding 2:28:00 performance at last October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon that took out a 28-year-old national record, Marchant had a good winter training in Kenya with American Desi Linden. She then showed she could race competitively on the international scene with a strong 14th place finish at the Boston Marathon in April. “I’m very happy with today,” she said. “It was a real confidence booster. My training’s been a bit up and down since Boston, with the recovery, plus a bunch of 10k races I’ve done. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was fitness, and long-distance racing-wise. I planned to go through 10k in around 35 minutes today, and run around the time I did. I feel I’m in a good place for Glasgow.” Like Wykes, Marchant took charge early. She moved away from a women’s pack around 4km, passed 10km in 34:29, and never looked back. The race for the places was a good deal more absorbing, as Corner Brook, NLs Kate Bazeley proved her 2:40:49 marathon debut in Houston in January was no fluke. Through the first 15km, Bazeley battled Vancouver Marathon winner [2:37:00], Kim Doerksen of Gibson’s, BC, plus outstanding Masters’ athletes, Catherine Watkins [BC Endurance] and Marilyn Arsenault [Victoria, BC]. The 23-year-old Doerksen went out aggressively, but eventually faded to 4th in 77:01. Bazeley proved the best of the bunch, coming home 2nd in 76:40, with the indefatigable, 46-year-old Arsenault catching Doerksen coming down off Burrard Bridge [19km] to take 3rd [76:52]. Watkins, who has raced a lot recently in a banner season, was 5th in 77:44.

The battle of Spanish Banks for the Women's places: Bazeley (F9), Arsenault (51), Watkins (F5), with Doerksen giving them 'the look' (F4).

The battle of Spanish Banks for the Women’s places: Bazeley (F9), Arsenault (51), Watkins (F5), with Doerksen giving them ‘the look’ (F4).

All in all, it was a “day for the ages”, as young, developing athletes Jibril and Doerksen gained valuable experience; veterans Finlayson, Arsenault and Watkins were superb – with Arsenault claiming she might be old but is still “gnarly” — and the class of the field stamped their authority all over it, showing why they are Canada’s best and Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon 2014 champions.

Complete results available online.

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Wykes vs Kangogo battle, plus Lanni Marchant headline Sunday’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon

Canada's #1 ranked men's marathoner at London 2012 Olympics

Canada’s #1 ranked men’s marathoner at London 2012 Olympics

VANCOUVER. June 20th. The weather forecast looks excellent for this Sunday’s 16th edition of the Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon and 5K, and there is the promise of some excellent racing for this year’s Men’s and Women’s titles.

The men’s race offers an intriguing match-up between Olympian Dylan Wykes and 4-time defending race-champion, Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, who has recently become a Canadian citizen. The exciting news is that “Dylan’s back”! It’s been two years of recovery from injury and fatigue following the London Olympics for Canada’s #1 ranked marathon man [2:10:47 PB], but he heralded his return with a 2nd place finish at the Sun Run in April, in 29:11. He followed that up with a 29:40 at the Ottawa Lowertown Brewery 10K on May 25th, and feels that he’s ready for Sunday’s challenge. ““I know the (Vancouver) course,” he says. “Part of it goes through the neighbourhood where I am living and I know the streets it is run on,” said the Kingston, ON native who trains in Vancouver with the BC Endurance Project under coach Richard Lee.

Always competitive! Victory at last for Kip Kangogo at Toronto Yonge Street 10K, 2013, after 3rd place in 2011 and 2nd in 2012.

Always competitive! Victory at last for Kip Kangogo at Toronto Yonge Street 10K, 2013, after 3rd place in 2011 and 2nd in 2012.

For victory, however, he will have to reckon with 4-time race Champion, Kip Kangogo. In his recent interview with Paul Gains for Canada Running Series, Wykes noted,
“Kip knows how to get it done, eh? Kip is obviously a super competitor and knows how to win on that course. I hope that I am strong enough to keep up with the lead pack. Kip is a tough guy to beat. I think he has had my number more times than I have had his, in the times we have raced, so it will be tough.”

Indeed, Kangogo has owned the “Scotia Half” men’s race in recent times. He won in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. In 2012 he was 2nd to Reid Coolsaet. His times underscore his consistency and “ownership”: 63:35, 63:51, 63:22, 63:28, and 63:33, since 2009.

In addition, to Wykes and Kangogo, popular BC Endurance member Rob Watson [PB 63:22] expects to be in the mix, as does Athletics Toronto’s Sammy Jibril. The 24-year-old up-and-coming Jibril was 2nd to Olympian Eric Gillis at this year’s Canadian Half marathon National Championships in Montreal on April 27th, going out hard with Gillis and hanging on for almost 15km.

A very special day for Canadian marathoning! Lanni and Silvia at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Finish Line, October 20th, 2013.

A very special day for Canadian marathoning! Lanni and Silvia at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Finish Line, October 20th, 2013.

Canada’s new national marathon record holder, Lanni Marchant of London, ON is the strong favourite in the women’s race, but there should be a thrilling battle behind her between the pride of Gibson’s, BC, Kim Doerksen and Corner Brook, NL’s Kate Bazeley. On paper, Marchant is the class of the field. Canada’s #1 ranked women’s marathoner was beaten into 2nd place at last year’s Scotia Half by friend and rival Krista DuChene [71:38 to 70:52]. Lanni then reversed the order in October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she ran a superb 2:28:00 to take out Silvia Ruegger’s 28-year-old Canadian record. Since then she has proven her competitiveness on the international stage, finishing 14th at the Boston Marathon in April, and 10th last weekend in a deep field at the Oakley Mini 10K in New York City. Sunday will be an important, final test of fitness before she heads to Glasgow next month to represent Canada in the Commonwealth Games marathon.
Many eyes, however, will be on the tussle that unfolds just behind Marchant, between Doerksen and Bazeley. Doerksen had a splendid, breakthrough performance to win the BMo Vancouver Marathon on May 4th, in 2:37:00. “Local 23 year old stuns field at Vancouver Marathon” wrote Canadian Running

Kate Bazeley en route to a Newfoundland provincial record in her marathon debut in Houston

Kate Bazeley en route to a Newfoundland provincial record in her marathon debut in Houston (Photo: Victor Sailer, PhotoRun)

magazine. On that same wet morning, Kate Bazeley took the women’s title in the accompanying BMo Vancouver Half, in 1:15:18. In January, the 29 year-old Newfoundlander had a low-key, largely unheralded marathon debut in Houston of 2:40:49 [first half in 1:17:37], to set a new provincial record for “The Rock”. On paper, the Doerksen-Bazeley contest should be one of the tastier highlights of this year’s Scotia Half, as the depth builds in Canadian women’s distance running.
Intriguing Masters’ battles are also on offer, between Vancouver’s Catherine Watkins [BC Endurance Project] and Victoria’s Marilyn Arsenault, and Victoria’s Jim Finlayson and Craig Odermatt.
Over 6,000 participants are expected for Sunday’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon and 5K, with over 4,000 in the half. The forecast is for sunny skies, perfect 12c to 15c temperatures, and great racing. More than $750,000 is also expected to be raised for 81 mostly-local charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Entry to the half marathon is still available, at the Expo in the Vancouver Convention Centre East, today [11am to 7pm] and tomorrow [10am to 5pm].  Everyone will have the chance to meet and chat with this year’s top athletes in a Q & A at the Expo tomorrow [Saturday] between 12 noon and 1pm. The panel also includes Reid Coolsaet and Sabrina Wilkie, as well as Wykes, Kangogo, Watson, Jibril, Marchant, Doeksen, Bazeley, Arsenault and Watkins.

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Lanni Marchant to Run Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon by Paul Gains

029_ij_svhm13_0165It could be said that Lanni Marchant epitomises the ‘loneliness of the long distance runner’ training alone on the roads near her home in Chattanooga, Tennessee using programs emailed from her coach in London, Ontario.

The 30 year old national marathon record holder is also the sole Canadian entry in the Commonwealth Games marathon set for next month.  But it’s a lifestyle that she relishes – for now.

Since claiming that record with her 2:28:00 in Toronto last October Marchant was able to relieve a little financial stress using the $28,000 record bonus to pay down the loan she had taken out to finish law school. And she also experienced racing in the Boston Marathon, a World Marathon Major event, where she finished a credible 14th.

Marchant says she is grateful that the law firm for whom she does work is flexible allowing her to travel to races and to what has become an annual high altitude training camp in Iten, Kenya each winter. Preparing case work from home or, when she feels particularly isolated, from a local coffee shop, she is committed to practicing law in addition to her athletics career.

As she pounds out the miles her next important test will come in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon June 22nd the fifth of eight races that make up the 2014 Canada Running Series.

“That course is really tricky,” she says. “Last year I think I ran just over 1:11 (1:11:38) so I am hoping for) something similar to that, maybe a bit quicker. I want to feel stronger the second half of the course because the first half is all downhill, so I wouldn’t even mind to be a bit slow if I really hammer it the last half of the race.

“(SVHM) will work well because most of the rest of the Commonwealth team have to go to Moncton, New Brunswick for the track nationals to prove fitness. It actually times pretty well being the week before track nationals so I can put in a solid effort and show that I am still fit and ready to go, and I can test the legs a little bit and see what I have in the tank without going too, too deep and using a race effort. It’s about a month before I will do the marathon.”

Last month she tested herself at the Ottawa 10km. She was the top Canadian finisher in the women’s race finishing 7th overall (33:15). Most encouraging for her was that she ran the second half much faster than the first passing 5km in 16:26.

“Ottawa was just a rust buster,” she says laughing. “I knew I wasn’t ready to go with the lead Kenyan runners so I wanted to run and finish strong. I am really trying to focus on the second half of my race I tend to be a runner that pushes hard the first half and sometimes gets into trouble the second half.

“I am doing a lot of work in the gym and I am trying to use these races to get some finishing speed and keep my speed and hip strength and everything going over the second half of every race.”

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon will be of much higher importance since the distance is more attuned to the high mileage training she has been doing to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. Twice she has run here with mixed results. In 2012 she broke her foot during the race. A year ago her friend and Canadian rival Krista DuChene got the better of her and she wound up second.

Marchant says she plans to arrive in Vancouver a couple of days earlier and stay a few days after the race in order to visit her elder sister as well as other family members. Though the occasion will be relaxing there is no doubt she will be all business when she lines up for the race.

Yes, it’s a lonely existence but a victory in Vancouver followed by a strong performance wearing the Canadian vest in Glasgow will make it all worthwhile. Indeed, Marchant has lofty goals.

“The Commonwealth Games is something I always wanted,” she explains. “I remember the last time around I was looking to do the 10,000m but the standard was way too fast for me. I didn’t think I would ever actually make a team and I always thought it would be a fun team to make and it’s a good chance for Canadians to do well at an international event.

“And if Rio (Olympic Games) is the end goal I want as much experience putting on that Team Canada singlet and lining up against some big names before I hope to do it in Rio.”


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Introducing our 2014 STWM Digital Champions!

On Sunday October 19th, 25,000 runners will come together in Toronto for the 25th Anniversary of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! Today we are excited to announce our 2014 Digital Champions ambassador team. The STWM Digital Champions are a group of diverse, dedicated, and enthusiastic athletes, each with a unique story and running history to share.

This year we are introducing some new faces as well as bringing back the best of our Digital Champion alumni! Over the next 130 days, you can follow the journeys of these 50 runners on Twitter, Instagram, and this blog as they share their training challenges and triumphs on the road to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Whether you’re a busy parent, a new runner, or a Boston hopeful, we know you will find a story that inspires you to lace up your shoes and log the kilometres on the road to the finish line.   As you embark on your own training journey, we hope you’ll join our online community and connect with our Digital Champions for motivation and support!

STWM Tune-Up Run Larger

Connect with the 2014 Digital Champions on Twitter using the hashtag #STWM:

Wally Azarcon
Twitter: @callousedrunner

Catherine Azoulay
Twitter: @marathoner514

Jean-Paul Bedard
Twitter: @RunJPRun

Tina Benigno
Twitter: @TinaBelinda

Alyssa Bird
Twitter: @alyfly8910

Amanda Bond
Twitter: @amandalea_b

Andrew Chak
Twitter: @AndrewChak

William Chaupiz
Twitter: @wchaupiz

Alyssa Cheung
Twitter: @the_real_alyssa

Michelle Clarke
Twitter: @runningchic

Karyn Cooper
Twitter: @coopkaryn

Karen Dancy
Twitter: @kdancey

Christa Davidson
Twitter: @christadavidson

Lisa Davidson
Twitter: @TorontoFitMom

Christopher Doyle
Twitter: @ChrisDoyle

Heather Gardner
Twitter: @RunSoulCycle

Emily Gray
Twitter: @EmilyMcGray

Patrick Girard
Twitter: @PatRuns

Prasheel Gopal
Twitter: @PralexGorier

Jean-Paul Hernandez

Hideki Kinoshita
Twitter: @kinosfault

Jessica Kuepfer
Twitter: @lacesandlattes

Josh Labove
Twitter: @jlabove

Steve Layton
Twitter: @stevewlayton

Jodi Lewchuk
Twitter: @jodilewchuk

Carol Levesque
Twitter: @carollevesque

Michael Lobsinger
Twitter: @mLob_creative

Laurie-Ann March
Twitter: @innerpossible

Linda Nguyen
Twitter: @lindamnguyen

Cory Pagett

Twitter: @CMDPcomm

Noel Paine
Twitter: @NoelPaine

Amber Renton
Twitter: @gingersontherun

Leanne Richardson
Twitter: @RLeanne

Bridget Roussy
Twitter: @bridgetwaits

Mark Sawh
Twitter: @Mark_Sawh

Sally Seabrook
Twitter: @sallyseabrook13

Janine Sedgwick
Twitter: @wanna_b_runner

Krysten Siba-Bishop
Twitter: @darwinianfail

Ravi Singh
Twitter: @ravimatsingh

Janice Smith
Twitter: @fitcheerldr

Petja Taivassalo
Twitter: @MrTDoesPE

Michael Thornton
Twitter: @MikeThorntonCA

Alan Tou
Twitter: @alatus

Jennifer Wilson
Twitter: @JenWilsonTO

Lara Winnemore
Twitter: @viva_lara

Stephanie Xamin
Twitter: @stephanieruns

Kenny Yumke
Twitter: @yumke 

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Dylan Wykes Returns to Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon by Paul Gains

Dylan Wykes East SideAfter racing to a 20th place finish at the 2012 London Olympics Dylan Wykes had reached a peak in his running career and wondered if he would ever find the motivation and determination to continue.

Thankfully for Canadian running fans that mindset was only temporary.

On April 27th Wykes took second in the Vancouver Sun Run with a time of 29:11. The performance has served notice he is fit and mentally preparing to run a fall marathon. As the second fastest Canadian in history – he recorded 2:10:47 in Rotterdam 2012 to earn his spot on the Olympic team – he has hopes of improving upon that time.

Next up for the Vancouver resident, who celebrates his 31st birthday on June 6th, is the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 22nd, a true test of his current training program.

“Training is going pretty well,” he said on a recent visit to his hometown of Kingston, Ontario. “I ran the 10k last week in Ottawa. It wasn’t as good a performance as I wanted but I bounced back. I have been getting in some good training for sure.”

Wykes finished 9th in the Lowertown Brewery 10km in Ottawa on a warm and muggy night with a time of 29:40. Asked about the difficulty in bouncing back mentally following the Olympics he chooses his words deliberately.

“I think it was tough to reach a big goal like that,” he says quietly. “It’s kind of like ‘oh, what now?” That feeling combined with some injuries shortly after the Olympics, for about a year and half, it’s definitely been up and down emotionally.

“There have been times when I definitely thought about packing it in. But I always gravitated back to wanting to get back to where I had been and to be better. The goal is to just keep improving; that has kept me getting out there training.”

Since the fall of 2010 Wykes has trained under the guidance of Richard Lee, who also heads up the BC Endurance Project. He has eked out an existence thanks to the help of his sponsors Mizuno as well as a part time job at Forerunners a Vancouver store owned and operated by Peter Butler (4th fastest Canadian marathoner of all time at 2:10:56).  On occasion, he also does some contract work related to epidemiology, a field in which he has a Master’s degree.

“I am cautiously optimistic that I will stay healthy,” he admits. “It’s probably been three months now that I have been training and healthy. I can definitely get back to the level I was at leading up to the Olympics and during the Olympics. Hopefully I can get more out of myself. There are definitely some big goals and stuff I want to accomplish still.”

Optimism is abundant these days especially since he was a last minute entrant in the Vancouver Sun Run and preparations couldn’t have been more challenging. A week before the race he and his longtime girlfriend, Francine Darroch, were married. The couple is also expecting a child.

“I only decided to race Sun Run two weeks before,” he explains. “I had my wedding the week before that. I had a lot of other things going on and I didn’t feel any pressure to perform.

“The race wasn’t hyping me up as one of the main contenders because I decided to run so late. So I was able to get in there and I didn’t really know where I was at fitness wise. I didn’t put on any pressure on myself and just tried to compete. That was my first race in five months. I was happy with how that went for sure.”

Wykes is looking forward to the Scotiabank Half Marathon, a race he is more than familiar with. He raced it in 2011 finishing 4th in 1:04:35. In his buildup to the Olympics he recorded his personal best of 1:02:38 in Tempe, Arizona.

“I know the (Vancouver) course,” he reveals. “Part of it goes through the neighbourhood where I am living and I know the streets it is run on.”

“When you look at it on paper it looks like it should be a really fast course there’s some significant downhill but there’s also some tough uphill. I just want to try and compete well. Obviously I think it will take 63-64 minutes to be competitive. I think I am ready to do that again. If I can just get in there and be in the mix that will be great.”

The event record is 63:10 set by Kenya’s Patrick Nthiwa in 2007. Although Reid Coolsaet has withdrawn due to an injury the field remains very, very strong. Among those Wykes will face on June 22nd are training partner Rob Watson (1:03:22 best) and four time Vancouver champion, Kip Kangogo, the Kenyan born resident of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Kangogo received his Canadian citizenship on April 4th of this year but has been a force on the Canadian scene for years.

“Kip knows how to get it done, eh?” Wykes says laughing when reminded Kangogo has won the race four times. “Kip is obviously a super competitor and knows how to win on that course. I hope that I am strong enough to keep up with the lead pack. Kip is a tough guy to beat. I think he has had my number more times than I have had his, in the times we have raced, so it will be tough.”

With renewed optimism and his life moving along nicely Wykes admits he is in a good place emotionally.

“I got to a point where I am pretty content with things and things seem to be going in a good direction. Basically there will be lots of new things on the horizon, the baby coming on the horizon,” he says breaking into a laugh. “So I will have to pick (two time Olympian) Eric Gillis’ brain for how to be a good dad and still be able to perform at a high level.”

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Olympian Coolsaet Heading to Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon by Paul Gains

ZAKM0579Canadian Olympian Reid Coolsaet heads up a fine men’s field at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon June 22nd.

The 34 year old member of Speed River Track Club in Guelph, Ontario recently finished 13th at the Virgin Money London Marathon (2:13:40) but still has designs on Jerome Drayton’s now 39 year old Canadian marathon record. Determined as ever, the Vancouver race is another stepping stone to achieving his goal.

“Training is going well,” Coolsaet said this week. “After London I took a week off then another week to ease back into it. Now I am trying to push a little bit more in workouts with Eric (Gillis) Nick (Sunseri) and John (Mason). They are getting ready to do the Ottawa Marathon.”

Two years ago Coolsaet raced on this same Vancouver point to point course as his final test before the 2012 London Olympics. He won the race in a very quick time of 63:16 just six seconds off the event record of 63:10 set by Kenya’s Patrick Nthiwa in 2007. He went on to finish 27th at the Olympics.

Organisers of the Canada Running Series have put up a $1,000 course record bonus but, as is his custom, Coolsaet won’t say whether he will chase the record.

“It’s still pretty early in my stages,” he reveals. “But, of course, I am going to go there looking to be competitive with the guys who typically come out to the race, maybe Kip Kangogo, (Kangogo), who is always strong there, and the top BC guys. Those guys I want to be competitive with them and get going again with competition.”

You’re invited to race with Reid and Lanni Marchant! Entry and further information available at

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