No Longer Unknown Sami Jibril Aims To Defend Harry’s Spring Run Off, by Paul Gains

IJ_HSRO13_1462

Sami beats Josephat Ongeri by a stride for dramatic, surprise 2013 Harry’s win!

TORONTO. March 25. A year ago Toronto’s Sami Jibril went into the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8km as a relative unknown and emerged as a surprise victor [2013 Race Report].

On April 5th he will be among the contenders in this race which, for thirty seven years, has provided Canadians and international stars with a professionally organized and challenging course.

The competition at the front has always been extremely tough too. Indeed, the course record of 22:35 was set by Kenya’s Daniel Komen in 1994. Komen went on to set world records at both 3,000m and 5,000m on the track not to mention the 1997 IAAF World Championship 5,000m gold medal.

Jibril opened his 2014 road race season with a strong performance at the Jacksonville River Run 15km March 15th. That race doubled as the US national 15km championship and was an excellent test of his winter training the likes of which he has not experienced in the past. He encompassed between 160 and 200km a week in very severe Arctic-like conditions.

Battling to hold off Ongeri

Battling to hold off Ongeri

His performance also confirmed his future lies in road racing rather than track.

“It went well,” Jibril says choosing his words deliberately. “The fields were loaded on both sides, men and women, very deep. It was a really fast run until the last hill. It was a battle the whole way. It was hard to not be engaged.

“Competitiveness? Every second of the race was competitive. It was good for me to be in a race like that. I ran 46:34 and was 30th place. I am pretty fit strength wise.”

Unlike many of those competitors and the majority of the Harry’s Spring Run Off field he doesn’t have the luxury of getting away to warm weather training camps. Indeed, the 24 year old has not a single sponsor and must totally rely on his income as a full time employee of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Jibril works the ‘graveyard shift’ from 11 pm until 7am five days a week sometimes as a repairman, sometimes as a janitor.

“Depending on if I have got a group workout I workout in the morning,” he explains. “I finish my shift, go home for a few minutes, collect myself, have a coffee, a bit of breakfast and then head out the door. That is truly my workout. Any other day I usually get home and sleep. The other option is get my workout in fuel up and then sleep.”

Chasing down Rejean Chiasson

Chasing down Rejean Chiasson

The adjustment to shift work was by no means immediate.

“I did have trouble sleeping for the first six months,” he reveals. “I didn’t know if it was possible for me to balance the lifestyle of what I was in. But I figured through time management skills that I had that I really did need to execute all areas. I had some health issues.

“I never had any of these problems before and my doctors could not figure it out and just classified it as a virus. So I was put on different medications and puffers and had many medical tests which did not help. During this time I was training with these problems and had horrible respiratory (asthma attacks) problems while racing the track season throughout the summer and fall of 2013.”

The conclusion was that his disrupted sleep patterns had led to an aversion to some foods including eggs, dairy, gluten and hazelnuts. With the help of a local naturopath he says he quickly changed his diet and his health improved.

Health problems now behind him, Jibril is exuding confidence as he prepares for Harry’s Spring Run Off and ultimately the Banque Scotia 21km de Montreal the Canadian Half Marathon Championship. Both races are part of the 2014 Canada Running Series.

“I am confident that I am the fittest I have ever been in my life and am ready to compete hard to defend my title,” Jibril declares. “The Jacksonville 15km told me I am a lot stronger than I think and it reinforces my confidence that I can compete in a strong field.”

Although his heritage is Somali-Ethiopian Jibril was born in Rome and emigrated to Canada with his parents when he was three. They had fled the strife in their region – Ethiopian troops were fighting with Somalian forces in Eastern Ethiopia – and landed in Italy. He moved to the High Park area of Toronto when he was 22 leaving his parents and two brothers and a sister in Brampton, Ontario. Training is done under the supervision of Hugh Cameron of Athletics Toronto.

As one would expect his upside down lifestyle can limit his social life.

“You know what? Training and work takes up mostly all of my time. I like to just sit at home and watch TV,” he allows. “I am a basketball fan so I keep up with the (Toronto) Raptors. I just generally kind of doing do much on the side because it takes so much energy balancing lifestyle. I do once in a while eat with friends. It’s not on a weekly basis I kind of keep it modest until the season is done.”

Should his foray into half marathon racing prove successful Jibril says a fall marathon is a definite possibility. Modest goals of around 65 minutes for the half distance would indicate he will tackle the full 42km.

In the meantime, though, it’s 8km through High Park that dominates his race planning at the moment. A victory there would be a massive step along the path he is taking to the top of Canadian distance running.

-30-

For More Information and race registration see Harry’s Spring Run Off website.

 

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Wiebe and Wodak record impressive wins to launch Canada Running Series 2014 at Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k.

Natasha Wodak & Rachel Cliff battle it out past Siwash Rock, just past 4km

Natasha Wodak & Rachel Cliff battle it out past Siwash Rock, between 4km and 5km

VANCOUVER. March 23rd. Kelly Wiebe and Natasha Wodak got Canada Running Series 2014 off to a flying start with impressive victories at the Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K. It was a picture-perfect Spring morning on the Stanley Park Seawall, with almost 1,000 runners drawn from across the country and as far away as Hawaii and Brazil. Wiebe lead from Start to Finish, and crossed the line in a strong early-season time of 24:03. Wodak, also from the BC Endurance Project with Coach Richard Lee, had much more of a tussle as she fought a see-saw battle with UBCs Rachel Cliff, only breaking away over the last 1500m for the victory in a crisp 26:39. Conditions were ideal, with bright sunshine, a temperature of 5c for the 10am start, that rose to 9c during the morning, and only a light breeze. The energy of a new sponsor in Modo The Car Co-op, a new charity partner, the Take A Hike Foundation, and a new season, all added to the palpable energy in the Springtime air, amongst the big trees and mountains on the Pacific shores.

The 24-year-old Wiebe started CRS 2014 with a decided sense of purpose, in front of the Stanley Park Pavilion.

Kelly Wiebe on cruise control after an early destruction of the competition at Modo 8k

Kelly Wiebe on cruise control after an early destruction of the competition at Modo 8k

It came at the end of a pretty big training week, but I still wanted a hard effort, he said in a post-race interview. It was fun out there. A beautiful day. I wanted to make the race honest and make the other guys work. That was the main reason for the hard start. I was on my own after the first kilometre. I guess the pace was a little more honest than I thought!

Following today’s “road cameo” performance, Kelly will now move to the track in earnest in April, at Stanford and Payton Jordan meets, to hopefully make the 28:03 10,000m standard for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. BCEP teammate Kevin Friesen [25:00] came home 2nd, almost a minute back in the “no-contest” decision, with resident Aussie Adam Byles third, another 25 seconds back.

cr_srov14_116 copy (1)The women’s contest was decidedly more absorbing, with the tasty duel between Wodak and Cliff. It’s an ongoing friendly-feud, that has featured some memorable tussles, including the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the snows of Poland where Natasha bested Rachel by 1 second, for them to take impressive 24th and 25th places overall. According to Natasha,

It was tough coming back after Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October [following an encouraging 2:35:16 debut]. I took 6 days off, then continued to train right through to the National Cross Country Championships 5 weeks later [where she became Champion]. I really didn’t give my body the recovery it needed. So I really struggled with consistency in December. I would stop and start with my training. So in January I just basically ran. In February it started to come together. Then finally, just the last month, I’ve really started to get back to where I want to be. Today’s race was great! I just wanted a good race. Me and Rachel really battled it out. It was pretty much back and forth the whole race. It was a great challenge. Good to have someone out there really going for it. I’m happy!

ij_srov14_0127Though disappointed not to get the win, Cliff was philosophical. “Of course I would have liked to win. But I got a 1 minute PB out of it. When Natasha went a final time around 6.5km that was it. But I’m still really pleased. Now it’s onto the track with a 5000m at Stanford in 2 weeks.”

Wodak will head for a debut at Canada Running Series’ Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 13th, then defend her SunRun 10K title in Vancouver on 27th, before heading to Ottawa for her second marathon on May 25th. Also making a rare road appearance, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory’s Lindsay Carson was an impressive 3rd, just 22 seconds back of Cliff.

How amazing is this?!

How amazing is this?!

The spectacularly scenic course, the Stanley Park venue, and a vibrant, new Modo Community Fair after the race underscored Canada Running Series’ commitment to providing quality races for runners of all levels, and to being an important part of building sustainable communities. The Fair included Modo the Car Co-op, committed to the vision that no-one should have to own a car; HUB, Vancouver’s Bicycle Network; Maker Mobile Workshop on Wheels; Vancouver Farmers’ Markets; Victory Gardens ]We Help You Grow Food]; and Vancouver Tool Library, as well as BC Athletics. “Working with Modo on the race, we’re able to showcase some great facets of the community,” said Race Director Clif Cunningham, “and also deliver a great run for the high-performance, recreational and charity runners alike. Everyone belongs in CRS!”

Complete Results available.

Canada Running Series 2014 Calendar.

 

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Take-a-Hike, Alternative High School Program Heals Teens and Communities

– Modo Spring Run-Off Vancouver 8k spotlights Take a Hike’s successful, unique approach combining experiential learning and a culture of service to one’s neighbour.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TakeAhike  828-200x180-girl-writingMarch 18, 2014; Vancouver, BC — When Rosie steps onto the stage to address the post-race runners at the Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k this Sunday, March 23 and tells of the community who supported her to get there, she means it.

“My early high school experience was brutal. I couldn’t concentrate and never understood the work. I found school to be overwhelming,” writes the 17-year-old in a pre-release of her speech. “After awhile I stopped attending classes all together. I would just get stoned with my friends and waste the day. This got me suspended and later expelled from my school. I attended three schools after that, and screwed that up too. Then I stumbled upon Take a Hike…”

Take a Hike Foundation is an alternative high school program for students on the margins. Many of its students share similar stories: they hated school and often skipped classes, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and were expelled repeatedly – until they discovered Take a Hike.

TakeAHike expansion_bannerThe full-time education program engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, therapy and community involvement. Serving as the backbone of the program is the network of community members and organizations supporting the students, contributing funding, programming and gear for student expeditions. Since 2000, the community of dedicated, passionate staff, therapists, mentors, volunteers and donors have been empowering teenagers who might otherwise never finish school to not only graduate but also heal and grow themselves and their communities. The result? More than 80% of students complete the program every year. In 2013, 100% of grade 12 students crossed the stage with a high school diploma.

TakeAhike Canoe_699-645x180-student-intakeFollowing the example set by the program’s chorus of supporters, students contribute a full day of community service every week. Last year, students contributed 1,400 hours in their communities – 400 hours more than what was required as part of the curriculum. “I learned how much others do for us and this motivates me to give back,” said one student.

“Volunteering through Take a Hike is often the first opportunity our students are given to contribute to their community in a meaningful way,” says Take a Hike Foundation executive director Jaydeen Williams. “We find that the leadership skills and confidence they build translate to social and academic success in the classroom.”

And it is this emphasis on both community involvement and engagement with the great outdoors that made Take a Hike an ideal match as charity partner in the Modo Spring Run-Off 8k race (or, “Modo 8k”) around Stanley Park, which organizers at Canada Running Series describe as a fun, community-oriented race, popular among new and experienced runners who favour group runs and volunteerism.

Modo marketing director Hilary Henegar is thrilled to bring on Take a Hike as Modo 8k charity partner: “Just as carsharing helps to build healthy, connected cities by reducing vehicles on the road to lower air pollution, preserve green space and encouraging more active modes of transportation, Take a Hike fosters healthy, connected communities.”

All funds donated through the Modo 8k go directly to Take a Hike, which is running a special contest on the day of the race to encourage additional donations above pre-race day pledges. Anyone who donates $8 at the Modo 8k will be entered to win two spots in Take a Hike’s May 24 paddling expedition, and Modo will kick in wheels and a free membership to get the lucky winner to the event.

—30—

About Take a Hike Foundation

Take a Hike is a full-time alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, therapy, and community involvement. This unique, alternative education program has been very successful in helping Vancouver’s at-risk youth work through their emotional issues and addictions, and to develop confidence, teamwork, and leadership skills, and graduate. Every student in the Take a Hike program perform community service hours each year. The purpose is to demonstrate to youth that, as members of a larger community, they have a responsibility to others and that their help is needed. Valuable work experience is also gained.

About Modo

Modo is Metro Vancouver’s only local carshare co-op, since 1997. Thousands of Modo members share access to hundreds of cars, trucks, vans and electrics across Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Surrey, Richmond, UBC and even Horseshoe Bay. Last year, the mission-based, not-for-profit co-operative donated carsharing to more than 60 community organizations. Modo not only shares vehicles but also its booking software, which it donates to carshare startups all over the globe, giving Modo members access to vehicles in those cities, from Nanaimo to New York and São Paulo to Sydney.

 

About the Modo Spring Run-Off Vancouver 8k

The Modo Spring Run-Off Vancouver 8k (or, “Modo 8k”) takes place every spring in beautiful Stanley Park. This year, thanks to new title sponsor Modo, finishers’ medals will be introduced for the first time for everyone who crosses the line at the Stanley Park Pavilion, and an enhanced prize purse that has already attracted an outstanding field of elite runners. As well, a post-race community fair celebrating the healthy, connected city will feature fun all-ages activities for runners and families. The Modo 8k is part of the Canada Running Series, which since 1999, has gained international recognition for innovation and organization. It is strongly committed to staging great experiences for runners of all levels from Canadian Olympians and International stars, to healthy lifestyle people and charity runners; and to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process.

 

For more information, please contact:

Take a Hike Foundation

Jaydeen Williams

Cell: 604.710.1677/ Office: 604.638.3385

jaydeen@takeahikefoundation.org

 

Modo

Hilary Henegar

Cell 778.896.0840 / Office: 604.685.1395

hilary@modo.coop

 

Modo 8k / Canada Running Series

Clifton Cunningham

Cell: 604-839-7889 / Office: 778-786-3116

clifton@canadarunningseries.com

 

Posted in General | Comments Off

Tarah Korir Returns From Kenya to Chase Harry’s Spring Run Off Title, by Paul Gains

Tarah breaks the tape to win Harry's Spring Run Off 8K 2012

Tarah breaks the tape to win Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K 2012

TORONTO. March 18th. If history is the judge the 2014 Harry’s Spring Run Off on April 5th will generate as much excitement as any other footrace in its thirty-seven year history. Over the years this 8km race through Toronto’s picturesque High Park has attracted Olympians from the UK, Kenya, Ireland, USA as well as Canada’s best.

Indeed in 1994 an unknown Kenyan by the name of Daniel Komen set the course record of 22:35 before going on to win the 1997 IAAF World Championships 5,000m gold medal and set world records over 3,000m and 5,000m. As always the race has given runners of all abilities the chance to test themselves on a challenging but scenic course.

Krista DuChene, who powered away from the field over the final hill, is back to defend her 2013 title (26:58) but faces a quality field chief among them Tarah Korir.

Korir moved to Kenya last September following the birth of her son, Jayden. Her husband is Wesley Korir the 2012 Boston Marathon champion and now the sitting Member of Kenyan Parliament for Cherangany district – hence the move. Two years ago Tarah won Harry’s in 27:12 and then went on to win the Toronto Yonge St 10k. Both events are part of the renowned Canada Running Series.

Wesley hugs Tarah after her win at Toronto Yonge Street 10K, 2012, just 6 days after he won Boston.

Wesley hugs Tarah after her win at Toronto Yonge Street 10K, 2012, just 6 days after he won Boston.

Since January the couple’s three year old daughter, McKayla Chepchirchir, has been attending a primary school in Cherangany, which has freed up some time for her mother to get in more consistent training.

“I wasn’t that consistent for the first few months,” Korir admits. “I wasn’t really sure where we were staying with Wesley working in Nairobi – he has to be in parliament three days a week – and in Cherangany. We were back and forth a lot. I was sort of running when I could but slowly increasing the amount; a lot of easy miles.

“It was really in January that I started doing consistent training every day. I have mostly been training by myself. Some days I go running with Wesley when he goes on easy days. A guy, who is trying to get a US scholarship, has been staying with us. I run with him sometimes too. If you are staying in Nairobi the place to go, if you are a runner, is Ngong. If you get up at 6:30 in the morning you will see a lot of runners and I sometimes jump in with a group. Most of the running I do is on soft surface roads. My workouts have been some tempo runs and fartlek (speed play).”

Over the Christmas holidays Korir’s parents and sister visited her in Kenya and the time together was both social and work related. Wesley and Tarah, along with her parents, have formed the Kenyan Kids Foundation Canada a charitable organization which strives to improve education, health and wellbeing for Kenyan children. The organization is seeking charitable status (www.kenyankidsfoundation.ca). Now she has plans to race at her previous level.

“I feel that since January my fitness has been coming along,” she reports. “I am not sure it is where it was at two years ago. I don’t know I haven’t ever stayed this long in Kenya at altitude. I feel like I am getting fit again but I am not at my peak yet. I am excited to race again in a competitive environment. I always like to race close to home.”

Despite being in the midst of completing a training base with easy runs of one hour supplemented by longer tempo runs of 1.5 to two hours she has found herself in two races in Kenya already.

Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, has been behind a series of half marathon races in each of the 47 counties across the country. They are in support of maternal and child health. Since Korir is a mother of two and Wesley is both a father and an MP, they decided it was a noble cause for them to run together in support of the initiative. Completing the distance has her now entertaining the notion of adding the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal to her racing schedule when she comes to Canada for April and May.

Korir has adapted to life in Kenya. The biggest challenge, she says, has been incorporating her husband’s political career into their home life.

“I think when Wesley became an MP our lives changed in many ways,” she reveals. “It became so busy. There’s not a lot of time for the two of us. He is an MP in an area with people who constantly want to talk with him.

“The nice thing about Kenya is that most families have mother’s helpers. A lot of girls finish high school and they might help with a family for a short period of time. Makayla leaves for school early in the morning and I go for a run. The girl that stays with us stays with Jaden when I run.”

The 2014 Harry’ Spring Run Off 8k is over 90% sold out at this point and Race Director Alan Brookes promises another professionally organized event.

For more information and race registration: www.canadarunningseries.com

 

Posted in General | Comments Off

Running On Tweets

TORONTO. March 16th 2014. As a recovering alcoholic Digital Champion Christa Davidson uses running to stay sober. Christa celebrates 3 years sobriety on January 15 2014 and credits her success to lacing up and pounding the pavement. Inspiring others to set and achieve their running goals is something she is passionate about. The spirit of the running community is contagious and she is proud to be part of it. Connect with Christa on Twitter @christadavidson and on her blog.

Running On Tweets.  By Christa Davidson.

Meeting Twitter friends @runningchic and @laulaubird

Meeting Twitter friends @runningchic and @laulaubird

I don’t run with a group and for the most part, I like it that way. In the past I have incurred injuries trying to keep up with other runners while out on group runs. I have learned that if I am on my own or with my one and only running partner, @tamaraconroy3, then I behave and run to my capabilities. If I am in a group situation I am always trying to keep up to the other runners so I’ll have someone to commiserate with.  Group runs are a great resource for many people, I just haven’t found a group that works for me yet.

Even though I am not the kind of person that thrives in a group situation, I do love support. How do you get support, tips, and hints and grow as a runner when you can’t access the wisdom and experience of a running group? Through social media of course!

My journey as a runner and a recovering alcoholic has been publicly supported via social media. I am an active Twitter and Facebook junkie because they serve a need I have to be accepted. The people I engage with on twitter on a regular basis are people I would call friends, even though, most of them I have never met. These friends have filled a role in
my running life and I consider them my running family. Here are some tweets I received recently:

Words of encouragement: ‘Drove past a 42.2 sticker on Hwy 11. 1st thought: Hardcore. 2nd thought: Hey, is that @christadavidson? From @coopkaryn.

Words of wisdom: ‘You will do just fine, C. Patience, persistence…keep hitting the streets & it will come together guaranteed.’ From @ultramyron.

Advice: ‘You are pronating and your feet aren’t strong enough to support the
pronation. You are overusing that stabilizing tendon.’ From @runningchic.

Social media has played a big role in my development as a runner and a recovering alcoholic. If you don’t use twitter, I invite you to give it a try to enhance your running journey. It can never hurt to have more friends and acquaintances with common interests. If you are intimidated by twitter because you aren’t sure how to navigate it, check out this article, “The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter” from Mashable.

TYS10K Christa Blog 2Once you have created your account, look me up here @christadavidson, I am always happy to interact regarding my favorite topics of running and sobriety  You can also search the hashtag (#): #TYS10k. Here you will find all the posts from people that are chatting about their training and preparation for race day.

Social media plays a big role in my life and as part of your preparation for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K and  I challenge you to give it a whirl.

P.S: By reading this blog post you have utilized social media! Let me know what you thought on twitter @christadavidson!

Posted in Digital Champions, Toronto Yonge Street 10K | Comments Off

DuChene Weathers the Winter for Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal Championship Defense, by Paul Gains

Krista winning last year's Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal & the Canadian Championship

Krista winning last year’s Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal & the Canadian Championship

MARCH 13. While many of Canada’s leading distance runners escaped the winter with warm weather training camps Krista DuChene has endured one of the coldest spells in history in her quest for greater success.

Fit and enthused, among other goals, the Brantford, Ontario resident now has her sights set on defending her Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal title on April 27.

The race, which is celebrating its twelfth year, doubles as the Canadian Half Marathon Championship but has also attracted international performers. Two-time World Marathon Champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya won the race in 2008 a few months before claiming the Olympic silver medal in Beijing. The race has also attracted Canadian Olympians Reid Coolsaet (2011 champion) and Eric Gillis (2012 and 2013 champion) in past years. Gillis, in fact, is aiming for his third consecutive title.

This is the fourth year Athletics Canada has awarded the race national championship status and, at the time of writing, it is 80% sold out. The capacity of 5,700 is expected to be filled easily. Organizers are also proud that over $700,000 will be raised for 50 Montreal area charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.

DuChene, a 36 year old mother of three young children, beat the long standing Canadian Women’s Marathon record at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a time of 2 hours 28:32, finishing 4th overall in the IAAF Silver Label race. In order to run faster still she has resorted to extraordinary measures to put in the miles these past few months.

“Twice a week I have been setting my alarm for 4:40am to be on the road by 5:00 am no matter what the weather, to get my run in, to be back to get the kids ready for school at 7am,” she reveals. “So I go to bed at a decent time. The nice thing is, I take the boys to school, and then I have a little cat nap. It has been challenging and it has got to make me stronger.

“It has been brutal but I have got no choice other than being on the treadmill five days a week. It’s so much colder, but that’s what you get when you are a mum with kids. I don’t feel sorry for myself. It’s the life I choose and I love it. But it has been rough.”

Like the majority of Canadians Spring can’t come soon enough and she is anxious to test herself against her peers. She won the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal a year ago in a very quick time of 1:12:28 – just 19 seconds off Tara Quinn-Smith’s 2009 course record of 1:12:09 – a time widely considered a Canadian best performance on a legal course.

Her margin of victory over Dayna Pidhoresky, the 2011 CRS overall title winner, was a whopping four minutes eleven seconds.

Krista leading Dayna Pidhoresky, on course at last year's Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

Krista leading Dayna Pidhoresky at last year’s Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

“I am pretty bad for remembering much about a course at all, to be honest. As many times as I have done Scotiabank and any other race I just get in the zone and look at the kilometre markings,” DuChene says laughing.

“It’s certainly fun to go there to Montreal. It’s a decent course and there are other guys to run with as well as the girls. I remember running with Terry Gehl the masters runner and a couple of other people and thinking I might be close to the Canadian Record.”

DuChene does remember running through beautiful Parc Jean Drapeau and around world renowned Gilles Villeneuve Formula One Circuit. She knows that the race will give her a very real indication of how she has fared through the bitter winter. Always, she says, she wants to ‘set the bar higher’ and improve her performances. And, over the past few years she has been one of the biggest proponents of the Canada Running Series winning the overall title in 2012.

“All of the CRS courses are so well laid out, we are taken care of, and every detail is always perfect. It’s great that you never have anything to worry about,” she explains. “Once you get there you go with the flow which makes focusing on the task great. Dayna was second last year coming back from an injury. But in past years there have been a group of people that ran together and, I mean, it would be great if we had that this year.”

Apart from her training on the roads and on the treadmill at the Brantford YMCA her days are filled with domestic activities.

“I spend some time with my daughter just reading books, drink coffee, maybe take her to a play group or the library,” she reveals. “Then I volunteer at the kids school once a week, help in the classroom, then come back and have a real nap, half an hour or so. I mean, laundry, housework dishes, laundry groceries it doesn’t end.”

Krista, jubilant, at the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Finish Line

Krista at the 2012 STWM Finish Line

During the winter Olympics she was often parked in front of the television watching the women’s hockey. During her days as a student at the University of Guelph she played on the women’s varsity hockey team.

“I watched the women’s Olympic final game. It was pretty phenomenal,” she says laughing. “I sacrificed a nap that afternoon. I think it was one of the days I got up early.”

DuChene reveals she and coach Rick Mannen have been working on improving her speed and strength which will likely cause nerves in her competitors. Last year, it will be remembered, she won the hilly Harry’s Spring Run Off 8k in Toronto’s High Park in a fast time beating Kate Van Buskirk, who was a semi finalist in the 2013 World Championships 1,500m in Moscow.

Among her other Springtime ambitions is to run a fast 10,000m on the track at one of the two major California track and field meets.

“The goal was to work on my speed and strength and we have been doing that,” she says. “We might back off a little bit; I don’t want to run a fast 10k on the track and get an injury that takes me all through the summer to recover. Definitely I think I can run faster still. I am not sure what marathon I will do. Ideally I would like to do the Commonwealth Games in July but I am not sure if I will be named to the team because they are taking a smaller team.”

Clearly, the results of the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal will reveal a lot about DuChene’s fitness. A successful defense of her Canadian Half Marathon title would be a fitting result given the harsh winter she has tolerated. At 36 she just keeps getting better.

For Race entries and fundraising see http://www.canadarunningseries.com/monthalf/index.htm

 

Posted in General | Comments Off

Why I’ll Never Run Boston

TORONTO March 10th 2014. In 2010 Digital Champion Emily Gray cheered on runners at mile 22 of the New York City Marathon, and cried. Inspiration had hit, and she knew she had to get involved somehow. When early 2011 rolled around, on a whim, she signed up for her first half marathon and in August 2011 bit the bullet and signed up to run the 2011 NYC Marathon as a guide for a disabled athlete with Achilles. Running keeps Emily fit, sane, healthy, happy and inspired on a daily basis. She is always looking to push her own limits, run her best, and learn from every race. You can often find Emily running all over Toronto (join her! Or at least wave to her), or hitting up every gym out there to try every workout in the city. Connect with Emily on Twitter @EmilyMcGray.

Why I’ll Never Run Boston. By Emily Gray.

TYS10K Emily Blog 1

I’ve never been the first one across the finish line, even in training. Often I trudge, shuffle, complain and occasionally I full on cry. Since childhood, I’ve always been a supremely competitive person. Wanting to be the best, at the expense of being my best. Let’s face it, there are certain people who are built for the marathon…and I am not one of them. I am dense, muscular, strong and predisposed toward short powerful exercises followed by a sweet, sweet nap. When I started distance running in 2011, it pushed me so far outside my comfort zone that I found myself constantly frustrated and unable to make it through the longer distances without walking, while I could power up a hill with relative ease.

I completed my first half marathon in 2:18:36, and yes those are 36 very important seconds. At the time I didn’t really consider myself a “runner,” (because I didn’t feel I could brag about my time) more someone who had finished a half marathon. Even after my first full marathon I felt disappointment in being so far off my coworker’s projected finish time, that I missed the fact that merely finishing the race was the major accomplishment. Other runners would pass me on the course and I would get a
familiar sinking feeling in my heart and gut; “I have to keep up.” “You can’t let them pass you.” “You are weak if you walk.” “Everyone thinks you’re slow.”

Those extremely defeatist thoughts carried over into my training runs, I ignored aches and pains, and finally found myself running on a fractured foot. Somewhere along the lines I decided that I would be faster if only I could lose 5 pounds, 10 pounds…it would be easier. Somewhere I heard “To run faster, you have to run faster.” It stuck, despite my inability to apply it. Every training run I thought, “you have to run faster.” Talk about missing the point.

As I started to gain more experience and knowledge in the distance running world, I started to realize that I had to be a bigger friend to myself than I had been if I expected to continue with the sport. My body is able to do amazing things. Qualifying for Boston isn’t one of them…and that’s okay. In case you didn’t hear that: IT’S OKAY!! As I allowed that reality to sink in, I found that more and more people aren’t focusing on that elusive Boston Qualifier, but on getting across the line by whatever means possible. I found other training options that didn’t involve yelling at yourself and adopted 10 & 1′s (now 20 & 1′s), and the world continues to spin. I take a walk break every 20 minutes, training or race, and run for time rather than distance on long runs. At first I scoffed at these new techniques, but quickly found that I listen to my body, I move at my own pace, my brain is excited, happy and kind…and I run faster. And farther. Wait…what? Turns out that positivity and actively listening (and responding) to how I’m feeling makes me feel like I can accomplish the best I can. Every run.

TYS10K Emily Blog 2During my most recent marathon, I got an incredibly well timed walk break on a particularly nasty uphill section, and silently cheered. The girl next to me cried out “NO! Don’t walk!! You can do it!” I replied by slowing my strides, tipping my water bottle in the air and saying “Oh, honey, this is planned.” At the 17km mark I passed her, and never saw her again. As the half marathon runners started to overtake me on the course, I felt the familiar competitive drive kick in as I heard a pack of long, lean, towering gazelles thundered toward me. This time, however, I calmed myself. “Keep up” was replaced with “run your own race” “remember you have twice as far to go,” and (my favorite) “you are your own personal Kenyan.” I finished in 4:28:16.

My half marathon record stands at 2:05:11, and I’m chasing the 2 hour mark this season (Not to mention working toward a 52 minute 10k on April 13th!), and I couldn’t be more proud. I am a runner! Not because I run Boston, not because I run marathons, not because I can run without stopping…I am a runner because I run.

Posted in Digital Champions, Toronto Yonge Street 10K | 5 Comments

Long Run bRUNch

TORONTO. March 8th 2014. Digital Champion Heather Gardner believes group running is a great way to promote healthy, active living and build community.  As the owner of Tribe Fitness, a Toronto fitness community with the goal of sweating for social good, Heather believes the true benefits of fitness go beyond doing a body good, to the enhanced state of mind which allows us to open our hearts, connect, and find the beauty in the everyday. Connect with Heather on Twitter @RunSoulCycle and on her blog.

Long Run bRUNch. By Heather Gardner. Tribe Brunch

There are many blog post and research articles available to tell you the importance of fueling post run – what to eat and when. While after some runs we’d rather be showering, or lying in bed, fueling is key for a speedy recovery. This post won’t tell you what to eat after you’ve drained the tank – instead, here are my three favourite Toronto restaurants to hit up for post long run #bRUNch!

3. Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar. Located at 504 Adelaide St W. Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar offers an extensive menu of “comfort foods, updated.” The usual omelets, pancakes,and French toast are featured on the breakfast menu along with items such as tofu scramble, which is scrambled tofu served with home fries, veggie bacon or veggie sausage and toast, as well as Huevos Rancheros, which is two eggs over easy on corn tortillas with salsa, refried beans, guacamole & cheddar cheese (there is also a tofu version of this dish). The staff are pleasant, and atmosphere is quaint (be sure to checkout their Pez wall), I do suggest bringing cash, as when I was there the debit machine was down and our whole group and to add on to our run to find some cash to pay.

I recommend: The Huevos Rancheros with scrambled eggs. View the entire menu.

2. Thompson Diner. Located at the Thompson Hotel, 550 Wellington Street W. Thompson Diner, although the most expensive brunch spot on the list, offers a variety of post run fueling options in both food and liquid form. You’ll find classic items on the menu including omelets, breakfast burritos, pancakes, and oatmeal, but you’ll also find items such as their Breakfast Poutine, made of fries, chopped turkey sausage, poached egg, hollandaise sauce and gravy, or their famous Brunch Burger, which is a beef burger with a fried egg, bacon and melted cheddar served on a powdered donut. The service here is what you’d expect from the Thompson Hotel (friendly and professional) and chances are pretty good that you might see a film star or professional athlete dining at the booth next to you. Open 24 hours.

I recommend: The buttermilk pancake with your choice of banana. blueberry, or chocolate filling. View the entire menu.

1. What A Bagel. Located at 130 Spadina Ave, What A Bagel, is a dine in and take out bakery and eatery. Their menu contains a variety of items served is sizes perfect for someone who has just rocked a long training run (they’re big with lots of sides). You can order omelets, breakfast sandwiches, a variety of specialty eggs including benedict florentine and benedict with salmon, French toast/pancakes/waffles, fresh fruit bowels you design, fresh bagels still warm or my favourite chocolate croissants hot from the oven (I’m pretty sure these are the best in Toronto – if you know of better please share!). The seating exists in a variety of configurations so they can support run clubs of larger sizes, just be sure to arrive early, because it gets packed! Weekend hours: 8am-5pm.

I recommend: Making your own custom 3 egg omelet. Get it the way you want and it’s served with sides galore! And of course you need a chocolate croissant on the side! View the entire menu.

Where do you love to eat post run? Share it in the comments!

Posted in Digital Champions, Toronto Yonge Street 10K | Comments Off

Wiebe v Watson; Wodak v Cliff. Modo Spring Run Off Vancouver 8k kicks off Canada Running Series by Paul Gains

Rob Watson. Game Face on!

Rob Watson. Game Face on!

The 2014 Canada Running Series kicks off in Vancouver March 23rd with the Modo Spring Run Off 8km race through picturesque – and world renowned – Stanley Park.

For many runners it’s a signal that spring is upon us and the hard winter training is behind.

There’s a lot of ‘new’ at this year’s event beginning with a new title sponsor Modo, the world’s largest car share program which is surely a suitable match for an environmentally conscious race series. And, organizers are also pleased that there is a new charity benefiting from the fundraising component.

‘Take A Hike’ strives to help ‘at risk’ youth turn their lives around with the help of adventure-based learning specialists, teachers and social workers. The program teaches life skills and attempts to repair relationships between participants and their families. Moreover, graduation from high school is high on the list of priorities.

There are many other benefits to racing this 8km too on an accurately measured, safe course. Besides the souvenir t-shirts on race day, for the first time ever, all finishers will receive participant medals.

rs_srov13-0086The elite fields are expected to be tougher than ever. As an added incentive the Canada Running Series has put up prize money for the top three male and female B.C. athletes, in addition to the regular prize money. That’s a significant gesture that recently hired B.C. Endurance Project coach, Richard Lee, is excited about.

“That’s excellent news,” Lee declares. “Any kind of support is helpful and Alan (Brookes) and Clif (Cunningham) and the Canada Running Series do a great job supporting both Canadian and local B.C. athletes. It’s great they are stepping up to that. As we all know it’s a pretty meagre existence being a full time athlete. Probably half of my group are full time athletes and trying to make a go of it off their running income. A bump in any source of income is great. Kudos to Clif and Alan for putting that together.”

Lee’s training group includes 2012 Olympic marathoner Dylan Wykes, 2013 Canadian Cross Country Champion Natasha Wodak, Rob Watson a two time world championship participant, and 2013 Vancouver Sun 10km winner Kelly Wiebe.

All but Wykes are expected to line up in Stanley Park March 23rd and challenge the men’s and women’s event records which are held by Ryan Mckenzie (23:40 – 2008) and Malindi Elmore (26:49 from 2010).

The men’s race will likely be a battle between Watson and Wiebe. While Watson has announced he will run the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in May Wiebe is more suited to the shorter races. Over the 8k distance this will be a real test of speed. Watson it should be remembered represented Canada in the 3,000m Steeplechase at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

Natasha Wodak. SVHM11 058_IJ_SVHM11_1000Meanwhile Wodak leads the women’s field. In addition to winning the national cross country title last November, just a month after making her marathon debut at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, she has won two Vancouver Sun Run 10k races. She faces fellow national team member Rachel Cliff who finished second to her at the Canadian cross country championships and just a step behind in the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. They finished 24th and 25th in this global event.

Two more of Lee’s athletes, Dayna Pidhoresky, who recently moved to Vancouver from Windsor, Ontario, and 2013 B.C. Timex Women’s Road Race Series Champion Sabrina Wilkie are likely to be in the fray as well. In 2011 Pidhoresky was the CRS overall series winner and has now overcome a series of injuries.

“The Modo is the Spring litmus test to see how winter training has been going,” Coach Lee says. “It has been a bumpy road for a lot of the people in the group. For Natasha it was a new experience for her to recover from a marathon and although she ran well in the fall and won national cross I think she did that more off talent than anything.

“But now the last couple of weeks things have started to come about and people are having some really good workouts. I expect they are going to show some good fitness in the 8k.”

ENTRY is still open to all at www.springrunoff.ca

 

Posted in General | Comments Off

Running Relationships

TORONTO March 5th 2014. Digital Champion Jennifer Wilson started running in the summer of 2010, completing her first race ever at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. After crossing that accomplishment off her list, she resolved to never run again. Luckily, that one didn’t stick, and with the help of a good running buddy, she got off the treadmill and into the streets and never looked back, finishing a variety of races including her first marathon last year. Jennifer is thrilled to be a TYS10K Digital Champion this year as she also trains for what will hopefully be a sub-four 42.2K and her first triathlon. Connect with Jennifer on Twitter @jenwilsonTO and on her blog.

Running Relationships. By Jennifer Wilson

When I first laced up my trainers, it was to TYS10K Jennifer Wilson Blogrun away. I was going through a divorce and wanted something to get me out of the house and make me feel accomplished. What started as a few trips around the block led to my first half-marathon three-and-a-half months later at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Then, I swore I’d never run again. It took too much time, and was boring. I’d crossed it off my bucket list and that was that!

Months passed and my runners gathered dust until a friend asked me to join her for a run. I figured a quick 10K would do no harm, so I headed out. That fun run quickly turned into my second half-marathon, and one of my closest friendships. Those weekly runs became a chance to vent and brag about ups and downs in careers, romances and life in general. Three years later, we’ve both survived some major ups and downs, and we’re still putting work out dates in our calendars.

A little over a year and a half ago, I expanded my running buddy roster. After a stress fracture meant I was sidelined, just weeks before what was supposed to be my first marathon, I was inconsolable. My (fairly new at the time) boyfriend, grasping at ways to make me feel better, offered to train for my next race with me. After cautioning him that it was the 30K, notoriously hilly Around the Bay, my late-sleeping, non-running boyfriend started learning the joys of slippery sidewalks and long, slow runs. A year after our first run, we crossed the finish line of the Niagara Marathon together. Running as a couple provides a great way to de-stress together and discuss our days, plus an awesome way to explore our city and the places we travel.

Running keeps me healthy, for sure, and I love the thrill and camaraderie of race culture. But it’s also become an essential part of some of the most important relationships in my life. How’s that for motivation for getting out for a training run with a friend?

Posted in Digital Champions, Toronto Yonge Street 10K | Comments Off