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
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.
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.
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.
“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.