TORONTO. September 20th. Rachel Hannah of University of Toronto TC and Olympian Eric Gillis of Guelph’s Speed River TFC claimed the 2014 Athletics Canada National 10k road crowns in convincing style at this morning’s Oasis ZooRun 10k, at the Toronto Zoo. Hannah crossed the line in 33:10, smashing Carman Douma-Hussar’s previous Course Record (33:24) that had stood since 2010. Her fine performance capped a strong year on the country, the track and the roads, and saw her make it home 21 seconds ahead of National Marathon Record Holder, Lanni Marchant of London, ON. Gillis’ 29:54 put him almost half a minute clear of Lethbridge’s Kip Kanagogo, but left him short of club-mate Reid Coolsaet’s ZooRun record of 29:35. The event was race #7 in the Canada Running Series, and also served as the Timex Series National Finale, and the Toronto 10k Club Championship.
A sold out crowd of almost 3,500 lined up for the 10k start at 8:25am, in front of the main gates to the Zoo, under ideal conditions: 14c, overcast skies, and hardly a breath of wind. Another 2,000 ran the accompanying 5k at 10am, and a mass of over 500 children under 10 years showed their stuff over 500m in the CubRun at 11:15am. Combined, they sent their hosts at the Toronto Zoo home happy, with a cheque for $28,500 to go towards their efforts to save certain species from extinction. Animal costumes abounded amongst the runners, and a general festive air befitting the championship atmosphere gave an extra excitement to the day’s proceedings.
From the Start, Toronto Olympic Club’s Berhanu Degefa took off, passing the first kilometre in 3:01, well clear of the gathering pack led by Gillis. Although his Ethiopian citizenship made him ineligible for the Athletics Canada Championship awards, Degefa made for a compelling and honest race. It was fully 5km before Gillis reeled him in, and 8km before the Speed River man was able to strike decisively and move clear. Kangogo (30:20) also managed to get by the Ethiopian in the closing stages, but Degefa (30:23) was able to hold off Athletics Toronto’s Sami Jibril (30:34). Jibril claimed the bronze medal in the Championships, with Milton’s Kyle Jones next in 30:58, on the challenging, hilly and winding course. The victory gave Gillis an impressive trifecta. He took the National Half-marathon title at Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal in April, then added the Marathon crown at Ottawa in May. The 10k Road title was the only national road honour that had previously eluded him.
“I felt like I finished strong”, said Gillis. “I’m happy with the effort, just what I need four weeks out from Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I got out there and just settled in for the first couple of kilometres, then around 3k I decided to push the pace. I ran that steady for the next 5k or so. It was tough to catch Berhanu. He was like a rabbit out there. It was good to have someone to chase for that long.”
The women’s race for the National Championships featured one of the strongest 10k road fields in a while, and pitted the best of Canada’s shorter-distance speedsters against the country’s best marathoners, drawn from coast to coast. Before the race, the chatter focused on whether the two Rachels – Rachel Hannah and Vancouver’s Rachel Cliff –could take out marathon star Lanni Marchant, who won the race last year, broke Silvia Ruegger’s 28-year old marathon record the following month, placed 14th at Boston this Spring, and was fourth in the Commonwealth Games marathon in July. In a re-run of April’s Toronto Yonge Street 10k, Rachel Hannah ran a smart tactical race. In April, she sat in behind marathoner Krista DuChene until 800m to go before switching into an extra gear to sprint away. After a very quick start to today’s proceedings from Cliff and Whitehorse’s Lindsay Carson, Marchant moved to the front, with Hannah in tow. Hannah, who was second in the National 5k Road Championships at the B&O Yorkville race two weeks ago, was content to track Marchant until just past the 8k mark, where she rounded a corner and went hard on a downhill section to put things beyond doubt. According to Marchant:
“I moved to the front around 2km, but I always felt there was someone right there behind me. That was Rachel Hannah! But for the mileage I’m putting in, in preparation for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and everything I’ve done this year, I’m ecstatic about my time here (33:31). I was well over 30 seconds faster than last year. It means I’m right on pace for Toronto Waterfront in 4 weeks.”
Natasha Lebeaud, who won last Saturday’s Canada Running Series event at the Vancouver Eastside 10k, continued to make her mark taking the bronze medal (34:28), holding off Laura Batterink (34:30) and Rachel Cliff (34:31) for the podium place. Lebeaud will also be racing Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th.
Beyond the 10k National Championships, there was lots more spirited competition and #crewlove as Beaches Running Club claimed the Overall title in the inaugural edition of the Toronto 10k Club Championships, presented by Black Toe Running. Black Toe’s own teams took 2nd place, with Parkdale Roadrunners third, Stevenson Performance Running Angels fourth, and C + C Running Factory fifth. A total of 12 Toronto clubs participated.
Rachel Hannah’s fine performance assured her of the 2014 Timex Series Women’s individual title, while Calgary, Alberta’s Keenan Viney claimed the Men’s gold. Hannah also helped the Ontario team take the Timex Women’s Team Championship, while British Columbia took both the Men’s and the Mixed Team titles for the year.
The 8th and final Canada Running Series event is the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half-marathon & 5k, October 19th. A small number of entries are still available for all three distances.
Complete results from today’s Oasis ZooRun, 10k & 5k, including all Championship competitions are available here. Photo galleries to be posted over next few days.