Marchant and Gillis Gunning for Oasis ZooRun 10k Victory, by Paul Gains

For the 6th consecutive year, the Oasis Zoo Run 10k on Saturday, October 20th at the Toronto Zoo, doubles as the Athletics Canada National 10km championships. Fresh off her Commonwealth Games 4th place finish in the marathon, Lanni Marchant, and two time Olympian, Eric Gillis, will be chasing the national titles but will have some legitimate competition. Here is a preview of the race.

Marchant and Gillis Gunning for Oasis ZooRun 10k Victory, by Paul Gains

Lanni Marchant at the Finish Line of the 2013 OASIS ZooRun 10k

Lanni Marchant at the Finish Line of the 2013 OASIS ZooRun 10k

TORONTO. September 11th. Only one result will satisfy Lanni Marchant when she races the Oasis ZooRun 10k September 20th and that’s a decisive victory. For the sixth straight year the race doubles as the Canadian 10km championship and Marchant is the reigning champion.

“I want to defend my title from last year,” the 30 year old London, Ontario native declares. “I don’t think we have had anybody win back to back titles on that course yet. I would like to be that person.

“I know Rachel Hannah is having a fantastic year this year, I am not certain who else will be there. That’s not a course where you can go for time, with its twists and turns but I will definitely run to try and keep my title from last year.”

Indeed the women’s course record remains Carmen Douma-Hussar’s 33:24 from 2010.

A breakthrough performance from Rachel Hannah!

A breakthrough performance from Rachel Hannah!

Marchant, who practices criminal law in Chattanooga, Tennessee between training, racing and traveling, finished an impressive 4th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier this summer. A year ago she broke Silvia Ruegger’s 28 year old Canadian marathon record at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon stopping the clock at 2:28:00. Since then she has continued her upward trajectory. She also ran a very 32:29.61 at the Stanford Invitational a year ago.

Nevertheless, she is right to be wary of Rachel Hannah. The 27 year old dietician has had a stellar year winning the Toronto Yonge Street 10k and the Banque Scotia 21km de Montreal, the national half marathon title. To top it off she earned a bronze medal over 5,000m at the national track and field championships demonstrating her natural speed.

Hannah will have a lot riding on this race too. She currently sits in 2nd place in the Canada Running Series points race trailing only Krista DuChene 105 points to 115 points. DuChene is on the road to recovery from a stress fracture in her femur but will not race again this season. The overall CRS winner will receive $2,500.

Also fighting for medals will be Rachel Cliff and Lindsay Carson, who finished 1st and 2nd respectively at the Vancouver Sun Run this past spring while marathon newcomers Kim Doerksen and Kate Bazeley will keep the favourites honest.

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!

The men’s race will be no less competitive with two time Olympian Eric Gillis eyeing another national championship. Earlier this year he won his third consecutive national half marathon gold followed by the Canadian marathon title. Gillis will run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th.

“Things are good I am feeling fit and healthy and enjoying running,” he says of his training. “It’s a nice way to break up the marathon training and it’s four weeks out. It’s good to have the whole routine of waking up early on race morning, and, nothing simulates racing like getting out there and racing. I will train through it and race hard and get a good stimulus out of it.

“The ZooRun is one I always wanted to win. I have never won it. It would be nice, and it would be nice to get another Canadian title. It’s missing from my list of things I have done.”

Gillis won’t have an easy time at the Toronto race. Kip Kangogo, the 2010 Oasis Zoo Run champion and second last year, will also use the race to test himself prior to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Motivated by the birth of his daughter a year ago and his newly acquired Canadian citizenship more recently the Kenyan born Kangogo is always competitive.

Sami Jibril & Eric Gillis battle it out at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal, National Half=marathon Championships in April.

Sami Jibril & Eric Gillis battle it out at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal, National Half=marathon Championships in April.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to come back to Toronto and run the Oasis ZooRun 10k again this year,” Kangogo says. “It will serve as my last tune up towards Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I’m coming to run my race and test my fitness and see where I stand at this point in my training cycle. The Canada Running Series have not only been supportive and welcoming, but they provide us runners with well-organized races.”

Another man Gillis will have to contend with is Sami Jibril of Athletics Toronto. No doubt the veteran will remember Jibril latching on to him for the better part of the national half marathon championship in Montreal before succumbing to Gillis’s superior strength. But Jibril ran 29:43.90 on the track this summer indicating he is making great progress. A week ago he finished third in the Canadian 5km road race championship.

The men’s course record (29:35) was set by Reid Coolsaet in 2011. But it is unlikely that is the target for most of these athletes. A national title is everything.

A complete Start List will be posted later today on the race website.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Marchant and Gillis Gunning for Oasis ZooRun 10k Victory, by Paul Gains

Vancouver Eastside 10K Supports Local Charities

VE10K Food BankWednesday, September 10, 2014; Vancouver, BC – The Canada Running Series is pleased to support three key charities that will benefit from fundraising efforts at Vancouver’s newest 10K run, the Vancouver Eastside 10K, taking place on September 13th, 2014.

The event is a premiere Canadian 10 km road race, bringing some of the best runners from within the province and across the nation to Vancouver to compete. Boasting a unique route and top class event management, the Vancouver Eastside 10k offers a great running experience for fitness enthusiasts of all levels and abilities.

“We are very pleased to welcome back our charity partners for the Vancouver Eastside 10k,” said Race Director Clif Cunningham, “The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Watari Counseling & Support Services and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society will all benefit from our event. Participants in Canada Running Series events have raised more than $6 million for local charities across Canada in 2013, and we are thrilled to partner with these important charities once again.”

VE10K Downtown Eastside WomenThe Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) exists to support and empower women and children living in extreme poverty in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Established in 1986 in a response to a lack of services and programs for street involved peoples, Watari Counseling & Support Services aims to facilitate positive change in at-risk children, youth, families and communities through the design and delivery of innovative services.

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society (GVFBS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing food and related assistance to those in need. The GVFBS collects and distributes food for nearly 27,000 people weekly through 15 food depots and over 100 community agencies located in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and North Vancouver.

The Vancouver Eastside 10k, taking place on Saturday, September 13th , will start on the Dunsmuir Viaduct near Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, head east on Prior to Raymur, then back for a loop of Gastown before returning to the finish line. The event is expected to attract close to 2,000 runners.

More information can be found at on Facebook at and on Twitter at @eastside10K, or by using the hashtag #eastside10K


Randy Clegg
Press Inquiries                                                    

Canada Running Series
Cell: 604-209-0611

Clifton Cunningham
Western Series Director
Canada Running Series
Office: 778-786-3116

Posted in Vancouver Eastside 10K | Comments Off on Vancouver Eastside 10K Supports Local Charities

Is Kelly Wiebe Next in Long Line of Elite Canadian Marathoners? By Paul Gains

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has historically presented an opportunity for young Canadian athletes to test themselves against the world’s best. Some have gone on to represent this country at the Olympics or World Championships.

The latest in this line of potential world beaters is Kelly Wiebe. Six months ago he was seriously ill and hospitalized. Now he is looking for a fast marathon debut at this IAAF Silver Label Race on Sunday October 19th.

Is Kelly Wiebe Next in Long Line of Elite Canadian Marathoners? By Paul Gains

Kelly breaks the tape at this year's Modo Spring Run Off 8k in Stanley Park, Vancouver, almost a minute ahead of the competition. March 23. Photo. Steve Tomlinson,

Kelly breaks the tape at this year’s Modo Spring Run Off 8k in Stanley Park, Vancouver, almost a minute ahead of the competition. March 23. Photo. Steve Tomlinson,

TORONTO. September 10th. Over its twenty five year history the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has provided a launching pad for the careers of many Canadian athletes. The latest prodigy appears to be Kelly Wiebe.

The 25 year old from Swift Current, Saskatchewan moved to Vancouver sixteen months ago to train with the head coach of the BC Endurance Project, Richard Lee, and his talented group of elites. The group includes Dylan Wykes and Rob Watson both of whom having represented Canada at the IAAF World Championships. Wykes also raced in the 2012 London Olympics.

Wiebe, who was a member of the Canadian team at both the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, will make his marathon debut in Toronto, October 19th. The event has earned an IAAF Silver Label every year since the inception of the program in 2008. In common parlance he is jumping in with both feet.

“Originally we were going to focus on the 10,000m and we did a little bit,” says Wiebe, a graduate of the University of Regina’s Environmental Engineering program. “But I started doing longer workouts with Dylan and Rob and I took it really well. Things were really moving along.

“Richard said ‘it wouldn’t hurt to get a marathon under your belt at a young age.’ I consider 25 a younger age for marathon running. He said it would be a good experience moving forward. I still want to run the 10,000m at the Pan Am Games hopefully next summer. I think the main focus will be the marathon at the 2015 World Championships and the Olympics.”

Watson will be lining up at the race but Wykes is a recent scratch having succumbed to a stress fracture in his ankle. Both have been sharing invaluable information with their younger training partner.

Kelly cruising to victory, past Siwash Rock, at this Spring's Modo SRO 8k. Photo: Inge Johnson, Canada Running Series

Kelly cruising to victory, past Siwash Rock, at this Spring’s Modo SRO 8k. Photo: Inge Johnson, Canada Running Series

“I can’t thank those guys enough,” Wiebe declares. “They have helped me out hugely in the marathon. I talk to Dylan a lot about what he does in preparation, what he does day of, everything. I talk to him about everything to do with the marathon. He has helped me out a ton and I really used this experience in this buildup along with the stuff Richard has been telling me.

“I think Richard is a great coach, the best marathon coach we have in Canada. They have taught me a lot.”

Lee has always taken a pretty conservative approach when it comes to predicting what his athletes might be capable of running on a given day. And, it seems he has wisely put the reins on Wiebe despite some pretty amazing workouts in the past couple of months. Consequently, Wiebe has more modest goals for Toronto.

“I don’t want to say I am going to run 2:10, 2:11 or 2:12, there’s no sense in putting that kind of pressure on myself in my first marathon,” he reasons. “But, realistically, I think I am in really good shape, and I think I can pull off something pretty spectacular given the right conditions. But I think I am going to be gunning for a 2:16 somewhere around there for my first marathon.”

By way of comparison Wykes, who is Canada’s second fastest man in history at 2:10:47, debuted with a time of 2:15:16 in 2008.

While coach and athlete take a sensible approach to Wiebe’s Toronto preparation there are others who practically salivate at the prospects of this talented young man lining up in a world class field. Remarkably, there was a time, not so long away, when he wondered if he was ever going to lace up his shoes again.

While training in Santa Cruz, California last April he experienced an unusual pain in his groin. Within days he developed a fever and became deathly ill. Having flown to the training camp without purchasing medical insurance he was in a bind.

“I ended up flying back to Vancouver for treatment,” he remembers. “They found out I had a blood infection and also a blood clot in the adductor muscle which was the source of the infection. It was causing extreme pain. I was on antibiotics in the hospital for three weeks and then another week and a half on “IV’ at home and then pills after that. So I was out for a long time from beginning of April to the end of May.”

Under the circumstances Wiebe’s present fitness is extraordinary. He believes he was in the best shape of his life prior to the illness and that just maybe his body needed a rest.

“It was almost unexpected how fast I came back but I think it’s one of those things where my body needed rest,” he reasons. “Looking back I had been training really, really hard through university without a break. This gave me a chance for total complete break.

“I didn’t do any exercise for four weeks. When I did get back I did pool running. My body did take a good break and also obviously the infection was out of my body and who knows how long that had been in my body. So we are extremely pleased with how fast I had come around. All the residual mileage over the years, it’s not that hard to understand. It comes back quick. I have run so many miles over the last six years.”

The move to Vancouver was a complete adjustment from his experience living in Saskatchewan. But he has been fortunate to receive a stipend from the Reed Athletics Fund, a program initiated by the 2007 IAAF World Championship 800m silver medalist, Gary Reed.

“Rent alone is probably twice as expensive as it is back home in Saskatchewan,” he says, “but I am supported by a few groups one of them being the Reed Athletics Fund. They try to sponsor up and coming athletes who are in need of financial support who are looking to compete at Olympics or world championship.

“I was lucky when I moved out here to be accepted as one of their sponsored athletes. They give me a monthly allowance to help pay for rent and my training. I am also sponsored by Saucony. That helps and I earn a little at road races. I also work at Forerunners part time. It’s still not easy.”

With four more weeks of training Wiebe is on the right path to be the next in a line of Canadians enjoying marathon running success. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon could very well be the scene of something special.


Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Is Kelly Wiebe Next in Long Line of Elite Canadian Marathoners? By Paul Gains

Why I’m Still The Dark Knight Runner. By JP Hernandez

TORONTO September 7th 2014. Digital Champion JP Hernandez has been an avid runner for over three years and while he trains out of the High Park area in Toronto, he calls the entire city “one giant road to run.” Last year, he ran his first marathon at STWM dressed as ‘Batman’ and raised money for the Sick Kids Foundation. Since then, he’s run a half dozen times as the Dark Knight Runner in other races — from small flash runs to 5k races, half marathons and recently at April’s Toronto Yonge Street 10K, which saw him tackle the course alongside members of the ‘Justice League Runners’, a group of runners who run as dressed as famous heroes such as Superman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, among others. He draws inspiration from not only the causes he runs for, but from the everyday runners he has met and come across ever since he became a runner, calling them the true heroes because “it takes such inner power to overcome a distance that you once thought you could not do.”

Why I’m Still The Dark Knight Runner. By JP Hernandez.

It was only going to be the one time. I didn’t JP Hernandezlook beyond last October 20th, the day I completed my first full marathon but with a superhero twist – dressed as Batman for the entire 42.2k distance. I mean yes, I knew I was going to run another marathon – the exhilaration I felt was truly amazing (aside from the pain, which made it an even better experience for me – I like making things hard on myself). To do so again in a costume which consisted of light running compression gear, a cape and a rubber cowl (yup, it was kind of warm under there) was just going to feel like a gimmick to me.

I don’t run to seek attention; I run because it transformed me, it gave me something to strive towards, to aspire to. It gave me an example to set for my kids, whether they knew it then or not—the example that even though life is always going to throw things your way, it’s how you handle it that defines who you are. I ran the 2013 STWM as Batman because I was inspired by the heroes who fight every day for their lives at the Hospital for Sick Children, and to also say thank you to the hospital for saving my life in an emergency one night over 30 years ago.

But why Batman? For those who are unfamiliar with the character (I forgive you) – Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne has no powers, and by powers I mean he didn’t come from a planet that exploded, he wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider, nor was he exposed to gamma radiation. Batman’s ONLY super power…is his will, the will to act, the will to fight for injustice. The character witnessed his own parents murdered right before his eyes, so he made a vow to fight for his city, but in order to do so he would have to train both his mind and body, forging each into a weapon. And so, he went off to train…

To train is something every runner knows is crucial and vital to the outcome of their race. Much like Batman, I prepared for the grueling road ahead, to expect the unexpected and to be prepared for it both mentally and physically. I wasn’t going to just be a guy who went out and bought a costume – I was going to forge my entire body into a vessel that would carry me over a distance of 42.2k. Since nothing has ever come easy for me in life, I was going to earn the mantle of the Bat. And in the end, after a grueling 18-week marathon clinic, where I also grew mentally stronger with each training run (speed work, hills, tempos, etc.), I knew I could answer the question “Why run as Batman?” Because I knew that I could, that I believed in myself, and because I earned it. I then ran the full, and enjoyed one of the best days of my life enduring the marathon. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever felt while crossing something off my bucket list.

JP Hernandez 2But to do it again? That wasn’t in the cards, ever. I just wanted to enjoy the experience and not top it. Then, a funny thing happened – I received a Facebook message from someone named Marina who said she was also running her first marathon that day, who (like many people who run marathons) began to doubt herself, in addition to being in physical pain. She said that at around the 23 or 24k mark, she saw me pass her, and that in passing her a smile came to her face. And suddenly, without any warning, I was pacing this amazing woman; when I ran, she ran. When I walked, she walked. If I took a break at a water station, she would, too. It was at the turn around in the Beaches area that we got separated, but it was the sight of Batman, struggling along yet not willing to give in, that got her back on track.

I’m the last person who wants to take credit for something like this, and while I am grateful for Marina’s kind words (we became Facebook friends after all), I want to say this: it could be anyone in a Bat suit running and inspiring others. That is the purpose of Batman – he’s a symbol; Batman could be anyone. Soon after, I received some Twitter messages about putting together a team for a future race. My reaction was more “yeah, right!” than “yes, sign me up!” I mean – really? Before I could even say “Holy Facebook page, Batman!”, there it was – the official page of the ‘Justice League Runners’ was up and running. Suddenly it occurred to me that the world needed the symbols of these heroes, and I’m not referring to myself in general; it was the symbol of what our logos represented – Superman (hope), Batman (justice), Wonder Woman (empowerment) – these are what people in today’s age needed to believe in again, men and woman, boys and girls – all of humanity.

I believe it is very, very important that we, as a society, have a hero we believe in, a symbol to shine a light for us in our darkest hour. Be it spiritually or through another medium, we need something to believe in, to draw strength from, and to have hope in. That’s why I choose to continue to run and raise funds for charity as Batman – so that people don’t see my face, but rather the symbol of the hero, doing what he can to help world be just a little better than it is now. There’s a hero in all of us – we just have to tap into our hearts and discover it.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Why I’m Still The Dark Knight Runner. By JP Hernandez

Maintaining Sanity Before The Marathon. By Noel Paine

TORONTO September 4th 2014.  Digital Champion Noel Paine is a distance runner with over 26 years of running and racing experience. He has run everything from the 100m hurdles to 100km ultra marathons. In 2013 he ran solo across the Grand Canyon a month before running a 100km trail ultra in Tuscany Italy. Aside from his passion for running, Noel also likes to share the stories of other Canadian runners via his personal blog along with one he writes for Canadian Running magazine. Connect with Noel on Twitter @NoelPaine and on his blog.

Maintaining Sanity Before The Marathon. By Noel Paine

“Life has no smooth road for any of us; and in the bracing atmosphere of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps, till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself.”– W. C. Doane

Noel STWM BlogMy marathon plans for 2014 have changed but I made a quick, smart decision in May that avoided complete injury and I am working back to real running form and fitness again. But –marathons are on the brain and I have many friends and followers on social media who are still running and training for the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon so I wanted to pass along some mental preparation advice.

 1) Prepare each day for positive

After the Toronto Yonge Street 10k in April I got to cool down with elite Canadian marathoner Eric Gillis. We chatted about training and racing. Later, when the worries and doubt set in as I was preparing for my spring marathon, he told me that he focuses on being positive as he heads out for his runs. What you practice in training will become habit and help you on race day.

2) Prepare A, B and C plans

Aim high but be realistic and realize that during 42.2 kilometres – anything can happen. Set out three potential outcomes you would be okay with, A- your dream goal that corresponds with your training if all goes to plan, B- a time that is slower than you hope for, but allows unforeseen events/things to happen and that you’d be okay with and C- the worst case scenario where you won’t be really happy but can deal with (ie: just finishing, under a certain time).

3) Be flexible and take it easy on yourself

Most training plans are not made specifically for you – adjust, be flexible, listen to your body and realize you are human. Push hard but realize your brain also needs rest. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Look for the joy and enjoyment in daily training.

 4) Stay positive with friends

If you’re feeling tired, stressed out or alone in your training – look for friends and other runners to regain a positive outlook. Friends on a run can make it go by faster and make it more fun. If you want some immediate inspiration, connect with me and my fellow Digital Champions on Twitter!

5) Enjoy the journey

Many things can happen during marathon training and injuries and other events can pop up. Most of us are not running to put food on the table or trying to make an Olympic team. Breathe, laugh, smile, adjust and run on.

6) Taper-tantrums

No easy solution. Trust your plan, trust your months of training and rest your mind and body before the big day. Almost nothing can be gained from big workouts 10-12 days out from your race. Focus on relaxing and staying positive and have confidence in your preparation and training.

7) Race day thinking

Focus on the task at hand – you have trained hard. Relax and stay calm. Run through your A, B and C plans and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Focus on doing the best you can, getting the most out of yourself on that day. Remember the positive thoughts you have put into place during your training runs.

8) Be smart

If an injury occurs or if you are experiencing pain – remember why you run. You run because you like to run. Better to miss a race than to be injured for 6-months with no running because you pushed through. Think positive, think smart.

Whatever you do and whatever happens – life and running is an adventure. Stay strong and positive and see you out there!



Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Maintaining Sanity Before The Marathon. By Noel Paine

Mestawet Tufa To Race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Despite the rather brief and dry title to Paul Gains’ latest athlete-feature blog, I think this is owe of his best so far. For the last decade, Ethiopian runners have been such an important part of Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and of advancing the marathon movement in Canada. Paul’s story today not only introduces us to one of the important female athletes on our Start Line this year, but gives us some lovely insight into their Ethiopian context — of training, family and community, of a distance running society that we are so enriched by. Her younger sister Tigist has already won the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in a Course Record this Spring. Can Mestawet make it a family double in Canada on Toronto Waterfront?

— Alan Brookes, Race Director.

Mestawet at the Delhi Half in 2010. Victor Sailer,

Mestawet at the Delhi Half in 2010. Victor Sailer,

TORONTO. September 4th. Extraordinary things are expected of Ethiopia’s Mestawet Tufa as she prepares for the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 19th – an IAAF Silver Label race. Then again, that’s nothing new for this talented athlete. Since she was very young she has delivered continually on the track and on the roads.

As a relative novice she won the 2007 All Africa Championships over 10,000m an achievement that counts for a lot in her native country and which certainly caught the attention of the world’s media. A year later she earned the silver medal at the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh. Now, weeks away from her 31st birthday, she seeks to fulfill her enormous marathon potential.

“I am so motivated (by my family),” she reveals. “I have seven brothers and two sisters and six of them are athletes in different events. I was inspired by seeing (Olympic champions) Derartu Tulu and Haile Gebrselassie running.

“I met them before because Derartu is my neighbor. I didn’t see them on television but I heard about them on the radio. I wanted to be like them.”

Among her running siblings is 27 year old Tigist Tufa winner of the 2014 Ottawa Marathon in a course record time of 2:24:31. Having a younger sister who has run so fast must also be a motivator.

“There is no rivalry between us,” she says of her younger sister. “I have a good relationship with her. But she lives in her own house in Addis Ababa.”

Although Mestawet has a personal best of ‘only’ 2:26:20 from last year’s Nagoya Marathon she knows it’s just a matter of time before she knocks a chunk off that, hopefully, she says, in Toronto.

Mestawet at the IAAF World Half-marathon in Birmingham in 2009, where she placed 5th. Victor Sailer,

Mestawet at the IAAF World Half-marathon in Birmingham in 2009, where she placed 5th. Victor Sailer,

“I hope I can run my personal best and get a good result there,” she declares. “Yes all I can do is try my best. I don’t have any information about Toronto.”

LIke the majority of athletes represented by the Dutch based Global Sports Communications company Tufa is coached by famed Ethiopian coach Getaneh Tessema.

On any given morning, just after sunrise, the group of nearly one hundred athletes will meet in the village of Sendafa. It’s a twenty minute drive from the capital of Addis. The region lies at close to 9,000 feet elevation and is ideal for marathon training.

After a short warmup of three kilometres jogging led by the veteran coach the group gathers to receive instructions for the workout. And then they hammer out hard efforts of ten minutes repeatedly with a short recovery, kicking up dust along the rural roads. Children, walking miles to reach the only school in the region, stop to admire them as they pass by, no doubt dreaming of one day following in their footsteps like Tufa did as a young girl.

The women and men are separated during the training sessions although the women have a male pacemaker to ensure they complete Tessema’s objectives. Mestawet runs with a group that includes 2012 Olympic champion, Tiki Gelana, and also Dinknesh Mekash, who came to Toronto a year ago but failed to finish the race. Before she flies to Canada she will likely press Mekash for details on the city.

Mestawet has also excelled on the track. Pictured here at the London Grand Prix, 2006. Victor Sailer,

Mestawet has also excelled on the track. Pictured here at the London Grand Prix, 2006. Victor Sailer,

Like many of her contemporaries Tufa comes from the Arsi region of Ethiopia where her parents have a small shop. At least once a year she goes back to visit them.

Earlier this year, despite dreadfully hot and humid conditions, Tufa won the Yellow River Marathon in China setting a course record of 2:28:27. To travel all that way from Ethiopia and come up against an unsavoury climate was very disappointing, she admits.

“I didn’t expect these conditions but I can run in hot conditions,” she says summarising her efforts during the event.

Despite her impressive curriculum vitae Tufa is a newcomer to the full marathon distance. As far back as 2009, she was racing competitively at the half marathon distance finishing 5th at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham that year. Asked why she waited so long to move up to the marathon she provides a very reasonable explanation.

“It’s because of my baby boy,” she explains. “My baby boy was born on Jan 17th, 2011. His name is Olyad Worku, so now he is two years and seven months old.”

Being a mother and a full time athlete means she is grateful for the relaxation time she finds herself daily. That is filled with pastimes very quickly.

“I enjoy time with my family,” she reveals. “I like watching Ethiopian movies especially drama movies and I like swimming at Bole Rock in Addis Ababa. They have a swimming pool, gym and sauna there.”

Tufa knows she will face a very strong women’s field in Toronto including Aliaksandra Duliba of Belarus (personal best of 2:21:29). Duliba has targeted the Toronto course record of 2:22:43 so the early pace will be quick. The weather conditions are unlikely to mimic what she faced in the Yellow River Marathon and she can be expected to go with the leaders. All this translates in a great opportunity for Tufa to lower her best time.

Expectations follow Mestawet Tufa but she has a history of delivering. And, that’s good news for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

For further information and entry to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, see

Posted in General | Comments Off on Mestawet Tufa To Race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Confessions Of A Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

TORONTO August 31st 2014. Linda is an avid runner and obstacle course racer. After fracturing her right ankle pretty badly during an obstacle race in October 2012, and missing out on her first half-marathon opportunity at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Linda started running again in February 2013. She crushed her 2013 fitness goals completing 12 road races and 5 obstacle races with some notable achievements including having completed her first half marathon, running 25k (her longest race), completing Tough Mudder in a snow and hail storm and becoming a member of the Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe. 2014 will be a big year for Linda as she will be running her first marathon at STWM on October 19th. Connect with Linda on Twitter @lindamnguyen and on her blog.

Confessions of a Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

Hi, my name is Linda and I am soon-to-be a Linda Warrior Dashfirst time marathoner. Is it too soon to call myself that? Maybe I am jinxing myself. What if all this training isn’t worth it and I don’t officially become a “first time marathoner”? What if I cramp up and have a repeat of my sad performance at last year’s STWM? Maybe I shouldn’t tell all my friends (and all of social media) that I am running the full marathon so that I don’t have to tell anyone how I did. All these thoughts are running through my head as I continue my training and quest for the title of “marathoner”.

There’s something about the word “marathoner” that makes you feel special and stand out from the crowd. It might not sound as elite as “Olympian” or “Professional Athlete” but I’m sure it does feel extraordinary nonetheless. Training to be a marathoner is not an easy task. It is a title that is earned and not given. Gone are those days of sleeping in and weekends of staying out late. I’ve had to decline invitations from friends if it conflicted with my training or race schedule. Yes, I know it sounds like an easy way out, but it’s true! I need to hold myself accountable and ensure I get my mileage in every week.

STWM is where I ran my first half marathon last year. So I am excited to return this year and try to complete the full marathon distance. That’s twice the distance and twice the training effort. I get nervous and nauseous just thinking about it. Now that we have approximately 8 weeks left before the big day, I find myself feeling panicking and pondering these important questions.

Pre-race panic:

What if I don’t get my mileage up enough?
What if I get injured?
How many days a week should I be training?
How much nutrition should I pack?
What will the weather be on race day?
What should I wear on race day?

During-race panic:

What if I get cramps?
Should I try to run it continuous or run 20 and 1’s?
Do I stop at all the water stations?
What if I don’t want to run the marathon anymore at the split mark?
What will happen if I just try to stick with the half marathoners at the split?

Post-race panic: 

Will my family and friends be there to watch me finish?
Where do I meet everyone?
What if I start bawling at the finish line?
How far is the medic area from the finish?
Should I get a massage?

So friends; if you are reading this, know that it’s not because I am avoiding you or that I don’t want to be with you, but because I am in training mode and I have a ton of questions I need answered on my path to STWM. Hopefully you won’t be upset, but will be able to support me as I cross that finish line and crush 42.2km on October 19th and can proudly change my title to MARATHONER!

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Confessions Of A Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

Flying And Running. By Mike Thornton

TORONTO August 28th 2014. Digital Champion Mike Thornton started running a little more than three years ago. Like many others, he started to run to better himself physically and mentally. After getting into the best shape of his life, Mike decided to take on his first 10k. Pleased with a top 10 finish in a local race, he continued on to take on several half-marathons and even a 30k course. The 2013 edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was Mike’s first full 42.2k race. When he is not running, Mike works as a commercial pilot. Fitting marathon training around a busy work schedule while travelling can be tough, but it keeps him sane. Mike also enjoys running as a member of the Brant Death Racers Running Club. Connect with Mike on Twitter @MikeThorntonCA and on his blog.

Flying And Running. By Mike Thornton

What does it take to run a marathon? A lot Mike Thornton Blogof guts, a plan, and the time and commitment to that plan. Any marathoner will tell you that the hardest part of the marathon in fact is NOT the race itself. The hardest part of the marathon is the training! Training consists of months of long workouts, sweat, tears, recovery meals, icing all the sore bits… you know the drill. All of this happens while you try to carry on with your daily life. For me, this is where marathon training gets a bit challenging.

I work as a professional pilot for a cargo company in Southern Ontario. We operate daily flights across the province and into the United States. For the most part, a pilot’s schedule is usually to operate for days at a time away from home on what is known as a “pairing” where they fly to other places usually for overnight stays. Luckily, with my job I have the luxury of being home every night. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be as successful in planning marathon training around a flying schedule. Having said that, there are some challenges that do come up when balancing flying and running. Here is what a day looks like for me along with some challenges and advantages to marathon training on-the-go.

Daily schedule: So, what does a standard day look like for me? When I’m working I wake up at 5:00am to be at the airport by 6:00. By 7:30am we are flying and on the ground within 1-3 hours. After unloading the freight, we have downtime until the evening. This is so the client can do their pick-ups for the day, and we can bring the cargo back to base to be sorted for the next day’s delivery. In the 6-11 hours or so of down time, I can get my runs in. Usually after we leave the airplane for the day I eat breakfast, go for a run and depending on the workout will also hit the gym for weights. After working out, I legally need to rest to reset my duty time to be able to operate the evening flight so a nap is mandatory (Yes, my job includes naps *thumbs up*). Depending on the flight, between 4:00 and 7:00pm it’s time to head back to the airport, load the returning freight and fly home. This gets us back to base around 9:00pm. Sounds like a long day, right? It can be, but if properly balanced with rest, exercise, and eating properly it’s manageable.

Mike Thornton Blog 2Challenges: The hard part about being so mobile with marathon training isn’t so much the running itself, but complementing that much running properly. It’s easy enough to find a decent spot for a run but how about recovering? Each day, because the time away from home is so long, I have to strategically plan out each meal. I plan not just what I’m going to eat but how I am going to transport it. Will what I want to eat keep fresh? How much food do I need? What if I need more? I’ve been working the cargo gig for almost a year and a half now and I’ve got the food problem well thought out. I know what works for each meal and depending on mileage, how much food I will need. I find taking fresh fruit and veggies easy but they need to keep fresh too. Usually I can accommodate that with a hotel fridge or find a nearby grocery store at destination for other things that I need. I also bring my foam roller with me everywhere. It usually makes my co-worker for the day ask “What the heck is that?”

Furthermore, I need to stay completely organized all of the time. Every night I pack the gear I need for both indoor and outdoor runs just in case the weather is bad or we have mechanical issues and get stuck for an extra day. There is a little bit of unpredictability in the job. Sometimes you’re needed at another base or on another flight because of a maintenance issue or to fill in for someone. When that does happen and I am caught without my running gear, I take it as a rest day and never stress about it. I try not to let running ruin flying for me and vice-versa. Balance is key to success.

Lastly, sleep can also be an issue. Since I work multiple days in a row, it’s sometimes hard to come home and automatically wind down and go to sleep right away. This leads to less than the recommended 8 hours per night. Usually I end up with around 6 hours of sleep per night and take a nap from 1-3 hours, sometimes even 4 during the day following my workouts.

Advantages: My job takes me to several Mike Thornton Blog 3different places since we have bases from coast to coast, and there are lots of cool things to see. I’ve discovered amazing new trails in several different locations all across the country. This keeps marathon training interesting when things can get tough like right now at peak build. I can be in a different spot almost every day of the week running on a country trail near Kingston, a conservation area in Sault Ste. Marie, or running alongside the Detroit River. If you find yourself lacking some motivation, I suggest you take a new route or explore a trail maybe in another town. The change of scenery will keep you motivated.

The biggest advantage in my situation is that I have both a sport and a job that I absolutely love. Every day I get to enjoy my two most favorite activities, running and flying. I consider myself very fortunate to have this balance and fully embrace the challenge of managing the two. The early wake up calls during the week for work also make it a little bit easier to haul myself out of bed early on Saturdays for the long run. I should add that I get all weekends and holidays off since mail isn’t delivered on the weekends. This is a very uncommon thing for a pilot!

The balance of running and flying is about give and take. There are sacrifices made on both fronts so that I can do them harmoniously together. The match may not be perfect, but both are a work in progress that I enjoy. I have plenty to learn in aviation and marathon running and feel lucky enough that I can see lots of new things both in the air and on the trails every day. The days are long, the miles are longer but I love it. Hopefully you’ve found your balance too. See you all soon at STWM!

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Flying And Running. By Mike Thornton

Injury Ends Dylan Wykes’ Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Plan, by Paul Gains

With regret Alan Brookes, director of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon today announced the withdrawal of Dylan Wykes from this year’s race.

Wykes informed the event this week that he is unable to compete due to a suspected stress fracture in his ankle.

“I don’t actually know the specifics of the injury yet,” Wykes said. “I had originally thought it was a stress fracture. We are getting some imaging done just to clarify things. I am in a boot and on crutches at the moment. It certainly means that Toronto is out of the question at this point.

“I was dealing with a bit of a hamstring strain for a little while and ended up taking a little bit of time off for that. Then when I tried to start back up I had pain in my ankle which iswhere the ‘stress fracture’ is. It just came on over two or three days. I was dealing with the hamstring pain at the same time. I wasn’t able to put any weight on it.”

The runner who is the second fastest Canadian marathoner of all time (2:10:47) is scheduled to have a bone scan Friday in Vancouver.

“Clearly we’re disappointed to receive the news of Dylan’s stress fracture,” said Brookes, “for Dylan’s sake, as much as for the race. Anytime you have an athlete of Dylan’s calibre withdraw, it’s a disappointment.

Kelly STWM

Kelly Wiebe, Vancouver Sun Run 2012 Champion and Modo Spring Run Off 8K 2014 Champion

“But we believe we still have our best-ever men’s race on offer, with Shami Abdulahi  (Ethiopia) battling Peter Some (Kenya), and top Canadians Eric Gillis, Rob Watson and Kip Kangogo all gunning for fast times and new records. Also we are excited about Kelly Wiebe’s debut. He has been training with Dylan and Rob. But above all we wish Dylan all the best for a speedy recovery.”

Wykes whose wife, Francine, is expecting the couple’s first child in October, has spent the past week in an emotional roller coaster.

“Definitely I have been up and down I had been getting in really good shape and was looking forward to running in Toronto,” he said. “Just looking forward to reestablishing my identity – as much for myself – as a marathoner.

“At this point I get to focus my energies on Francine and the baby coming. So that is something that will distract me otherwise It would be pretty easy to get pretty down about where this puts me now.”


Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Injury Ends Dylan Wykes’ Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Plan, by Paul Gains

Shami Abdulahi Returns to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Chasing Records, by Paul Gains

Kenneth Mungara & Shami Abdulahai Dawud race to the line at STWM 2011

Kenneth Mungara & Shami Abdulahai Dawud race to the line at STWM 2011

TORONTO. August 26th. Three years ago Shami Abdulahi Dawud came within a step of winning the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It would have been his first international victory at the distance.

The 30 year old Ethiopian returns to the IAAF Silver Label race this coming October 19th a much more experienced and determined athlete.

Like several of his rivals he has been informed about the course record. But Abdulahi has one distinct advantage: the man who has shared detailed information on running fast in Toronto is none other than Derissa Chimsa the record holder himself. The pair are training partners.

“I remembered I lost the victory in the last meter of the 2011 race and I don’t forget the people of Toronto who support us in the race,” Abdulahi recalls. “(this time) I’ll come to win with the course record. Yes, I’m thinking to do that and I’ll try to do my best.”

Following the 2011 visit to Canada’s largest city he received an invitation to race the 2012 Dubai Marathon and took full advantage of the glorious opportunity. He recorded a new personal best of 2:05:42. Ironically the man who finished a step behind him on that occasion was Chimsa.

When Chimsa ran that impressive 2:07:05 a year ago it was, at the time, also the fastest time ever recorded on Canadian soil. It has since been beaten by another Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay who ran 2:06:54 in Ottawa this spring. Abdulahi has no doubt done the math. A new Canadian all comers record would earn him an additional $40,000 on top of the $20,000 first place prize. Significant time bonuses provide even more incentive to run fast.

Shami battles Canada's Reid Coolsaet and Kenneth Mungara through The Beach in 2011

Shami battles Canada’s Reid Coolsaet and Kenneth Mungara through The Beach in 2011

Abdulahi certainly has the credentials to chase this record. His magnificent Dubai result was not a one off situation either. Three months afterwards Abdulahi won the 2012 Hamburg Marathon in 2:05:58, his second time beating 2 hours 6 minutes.

Coming from the famed walled city of Harar about 500 kilometres directly east of Addis, Abdulahi is the second sub 2:06 man to be confirmed for the 2014 Toronto race, the other being Kenya’s Peter Some. When told that there are seven men in this year’s race who have personal bests that are faster than 2:09 he nods his approval.

“That’s good because the race will be competitive,” he declares. “No, I haven’t raced Some before but I know him. He is a strong athlete.”

Abdulahi says he was inspired by the exploits of his famous countrymen Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, who have won five Olympic gold medals between them. Winning his first 5km race in Harar gave him the incentive to follow in their footsteps and in July 2008 the Addis based Defence Force Sports Club brought him to the capital.

2011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront MarathonSince June of 2009 he has trained with a very strong contingent of runners all of whom are represented by the Italian sports agent Gianni Demadonna. Although they push each other in training they are largely supportive of one another and, should he beat Chimsa’s Toronto course record, he doesn’t expect that to cause any rift with his friend.

“It is difficult to describe my training but I’m in a good shape and I train well and I hope
it will continue until Toronto,” he explains. “I like to train in Entoto (the mountainous region on the outskirts of Addis), mostly I do long runs there. Gemedu Deddefo and Gebeyehu Berihun are my coaches. No, there isn’t rivalry with the other athletes but we help each other always.”

Although training and the recovery takes up most of his days he admits to enjoying watching action movies on television as well as English Premier League football. The latter pastime is something he apparently shares with his rival Peter Some. The Kenyan is a committed Manchester United supporter while Abdulahi loves Chelsea. The pair, no doubt, will be aware that the two teams play one another the week following the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Abdulahi comes from a family of farmers who grow corn and sorghum in Harar. Twice a year he returns to the region to visit his parents, his three sisters and four brothers. In a country where the per capita income is $470, his running brings opportunities to provide for family as well as ensure some economic security for himself. In the future, he says, he will invest in a business but for now he is concentrating solely on his running.

With the addition of Abdulahi this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is clearly the strongest field assembled for the event. Whether the records will fall is to be seen. But both Some and Abdulahi have designs on victory as well as the record prize purse and that bodes well for the race.

For further information and entry to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon visit


Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off on Shami Abdulahi Returns to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Chasing Records, by Paul Gains