Philemon Rono

Canadian all-comers records fall at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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The marathon gods shone down on the streets of Toronto today during the 30th edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Breezing through crisp eight-degree weather, winners Philemon Rono and Magdelyne Masai Robertson, both from Kenya, smashed the men’s and women’s Canadian all-comers records, respectively.

Philemon Rono shatters Canadian all-comers record

Rono, now a three-time champion, closed a seemingly insurmountable gap between himself and Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia around the 35 kilometre mark to win in 2:05:00, smashing his own Canadian all-comers record of 2:06:52. He was followed by Berhanu in 2:05:09, and Felix Chemonges of Uganda in 2:05:12.

Philemon Rono

Magdelyne Masai Robertson breaks Canadian all-comers record

The women’s race was just as exhilarating with Magdelyne Masai-Robertson pulling away late in the race to win decidedly in 2:22:16. She broke the Canadian all-comers record by one second, earning herself a $50,000 bonus. This was a four minute personal best for Masai-Robertson, who almost didn’t make the race due to visa issues. She was followed by Biruktayit Eshetu of Ethiopia in 2:22:40, and Betsy Saina of Kenya in 2:22:43.

Magdelyne Masai Robertson
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You can watch the entire broadcast of today’s event on Facebook here.
For more information on the race visit STWM.ca or our social accounts @TOwaterfront42k.

Dayna Pidhoresky

Trevor Haufbauer and Dayna Pidhoresky book their tickets to Tokyo

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With huge power-moves from both athletes, Trevor Hofbauer and Dayna Pidhoresky have won the Canadian Marathon Championships. 

Hofbauer wins Canadian Marathon Trials

Hofbauer of Calgary, Alberta, won in a time of 2:09:51, cutting seven minutes from his personal best of 2:16:48, run in Hamburg, Germany. Showing immense perseverance, Hofbauer pushed hard around 30 kilometres into the race, dropping Canadian champion and last year’s winner, Cam Levins.

“My training going into this was absolutely perfectly,” Hofbauer said to finish line interviewer Kate Van Buskirk. Not wearing a watch, Hofbauer ran the race by feel. His time and first place finish will qualify him to race in Tokyo next year. He was followed by Tristan Woodfine in 2:13:16, and Cam Levins in 2:15:01. 

“I wanted to do this for everybody back home,” Hofbauer said.

Trevor Hofbauer

Pidhoresky wins Canadian Marathon Trials

In another remarkable effort, Pidhoresky also cut seven minutes from her personal best, winning the trials in 2:29:03. She pushed early, leading the Canadian women by 15 kilometres into the race, dropping last year’s champion Kinsey Middleton.

Pidhoresky’s time and place will qualify her to run in Tokyo next year. She was followed closely by Emily Setlack who also ran a major personal best of 2:29:48, just missing the qualifying standard for Tokyo, and Kinsey Middleton in third with a 2:34:36 finish.

“I feel like I’ve had that in me for years,” Pidhoresky said.

We’re excited to follow both athletes on the next part of their #RoadtoTokyo journeys.

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You can watch the entire broadcast of today’s event on Facebook here.

For more information on the race visit STWM.ca or our social accounts @TOwaterfront42k. 

 

 

Where to Cheer: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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Plan Your Sunday Run between Cheer Stations!

Not racing? Support your friends and family (or random strangers) along the route.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon returns for the 30th edition of the race on October 20th… that’s THIS SUNDAY!

Whether you’re a runner or a spectator, the map below details all the route info for this weekend. You can find a higher res version here.

Toronto Waterfront Marathon

This map shows the entire route of the 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Spectator Areas

We have designated neighbourhood cheer zones (part of our annual Neighbourhood Challenge) and community cheer zones throughout the course. They can be found at the following locations.

Road Closures

If you absolutely can’t stop to join in on the fun supporting your community, make sure to plan your route well in advance and avoid the road closures. Don’t fret. We start packing up the course after the last runners pass each section to get you back on track as soon as possible.

All road closures will be lifted by late Sunday afternoon.

Take a look here for the full list.

Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Displayed here is a full list of road closures taking place this weekend for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

For more information visit the Toronto Waterfront Marathon website. Also here’s an interactive map interactive map that can help you navigate the course and avoid those road closures.

 

Revisiting Ed Whitlock’s greatest marathon performances

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By Ravi Singh

Marathons become the subject of news and local legend, but marathoners themselves rarely do. There’s bound to be some overhead shots and a quick recap on the local news of the New York City and Boston Marathons, both of which have in themselves become cultural mainstays. Less likely, however, is a marathoner commanding a global audience and cult of personality in the way their counterparts in other sports might.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, however, managed to produce something of an exception to the rule in a running curiosity named Ed Whitlock. The Milton resident had a brief flirtation with running in his youth before dropping the habit during adulthood only to return in his 40s.

In 2004, he became the oldest man to ever run a marathon in under three hours, running a 2:54:49 in Toronto at age 73.

Ed was a bundle of contradictions. He was a fast runner who didn’t do speedwork. He was a runner with world records who had no sponsors. He had an incredible amount of longevity, yet maintained habits that would sabotage the rest of us, whether running for three hours every day in the lead up to his world record in 2004 or wearing the same shoes for over a decade.

Ed also broke other barriers in that he made the world care about a runner.

At the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2016, Ed became the oldest man at the age of 85 to break 4:00 in a marathon. The next day, the race communications manager, Jenna Pettinato, says, “that was busier than the day of the race for me. Requests came in from all over the world. Everyone wanted to talk to Ed.”

Ed somehow found his way into People Magazine, where he mused about his future, “You never really know if you’ve run your last race or not. I think I do have longevity in my genes, but you never know—you might get hit by a bus.”

Whitlock at 81 finishes the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, setting a world record for his age group. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

In December 2016, the New York Times marvelled at Whitlock as, “curious, relatively unconstrained and full of “physical and emotional vigor,” not so different from the older aunt or uncle who insists on shooting squirt guns at family reunions.”

It wasn’t just the numbers, but the raw ambition and grace, two things that are sometimes difficult to find anywhere in this world, with which Ed approached running. It was the fact that he made us say, “How?”

Even Vice Media, usually preoccupied with guerilla warriors and dark tourism, found time to produce a video more contemplative and subdued than its usual fare.

The video does capture something a bit sad about Ed, another one of his contradictions, which was that he could commit so strongly do something he admitted he at times didn’t really care for. It’s perhaps not possible to know or ever fully understand a man like Ed Whitlock and that’s why he’ll remain an enduring curiousity and one that continues to inspire even if it was never his intention. What remains is his legacy, and the cold hard facts of his performances: some of the greatest ever by anyone to run a marathon.

Whitlock’s Single-Age World Records in the Marathon

Source: ARRS.run

68y253d    2:51:02     14 Nov 1999 Columbus
69y237d    2:52:50     29 Oct 2000  Columbus
72y206d    2:59:09.3   28 Sep 2003  Toronto
73y204d    2:54:48.3   26 Sep 2004  Toronto
74y035d    2:58:40.0   10 Apr 2005  Rotterdam
75y202d    3:08:34.5   24 Sep 2006  Toronto
80y224d    3:15:53.9   16 Oct 2011  Toronto
81y222d    3:30:28.4   14 Oct 2012  Toronto
82y228d    3:41:57.8   20 Oct 2013  Toronto
85y224d    3:56:38     16 Oct 2016  Toronto

 

How running changed Shane Dixon’s life

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“When I was trapped in the sales world and ventured on this quest for happiness, I told myself I was never going to be stuck for years in one spot,” Shane Dixon explains. As Shane puts together the building blocks for his first marathon at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, the thing that drives him and has made running such a fulfilling pursuit.

Since he started taking running seriously a little over five years ago, change has been a constant both in a personal sense and in all the accompanying experiences. For Shane, running has always meant new people, a new career, a new sense of confidence and level of fitness, and new distances.

There was some family influence as well. Shane’s father and brother are both avid runners, the latter being an experienced marathoner. In fact, Shane and his brother have a tradition of running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon together, with Shane usually running one of the shorter distances while his brother tackled the full. This year, they swap places.

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Running continues to test my physical & mental limits. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, I could barely do 5KM’s…and, today, I completed 26KM’s for the second time in my life! That being said, I have a confession to make: For the first time in my training, I’m a bit scared about what I’ve gotten myself into. Actually…i’m more terrified then anything! 😱 Why? I’ve completed 26KM’s just twice in my life….and, each time, it was a struggle to finish! And…the negative thoughts start to creep into my mind. If it’s a challenge just to do this distance….how am I going to survive an additional 16K on top of that!?! 🤦🏻‍♂️🤯 Despite this fear, there are 3 things that keep me moving forward: 1) I still have a few weeks until race day, so no need to panic. 2) I have a solid training plan thanks to my Coach @psgilpin! 3) I know I can do this. I’ve raced 5 KM’s, 10 KM’s, &, Halfs….I can do this too! 💪🏻 As for today, I’m just going to head home, & be content with the fact that I did this long run! I also just need to remind myself that these runs are all building blocks to my biggest running goal to date, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! 👊🏻 When it’s all over, everything will be OK! I’m grateful to my friends at @oasiscanada for having my back during my training the past few months! 🙏🏻❤️ Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend! #shaneruns #RunWithOasis #Collab #marathontraining #irun #everybodyrun

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“There are a few things that have helped me along the way,” Shane says, “but my story is no different from most people. I was in IT sales and was miserable and picking up a lot of bad habits, including drinking just to numb my mind.”

When Shane moved to Toronto from Calgary in 2015, he found that, “a lot of my friends were becoming adults, getting married and having babies and whatnot.” As he was looking for a way to make connections, he stumbled across RunTOBeer.

“The thing that really got me hooked on running was having a group. I’m loyal to RunToBeer, but I have run with other clubs and have made lifelong friends along the way.”

At his very first RunTOBeer event, Shane remembers his friend Leanne, who he hadn’t yet met, inviting him to join. “It’s tough to meet new people and that was one thing I didn’t expect out of running,” Shane says. “I honestly don’t think I’ve met any jerks.”

“I was scared to run my first 5K, 10K, and half, but one of the biggest things running has done is build my confidence,” Shane says of his evolution. He adds, “One thing that a lot of people mention is that I as always a party guy. I would get called “Frank the Tank” after Will Ferrel’s character in the movie Old School.”

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Happy Friday everyone! 🎉 How was your week? Did anything amazing happen on your end? Mine was pretty good as I had a solid turnout at my 20 Minute Challenge event on Wednesday, and, I had a much-needed relaxing day off yesterday! My training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon continues to go very well. After a rough outing on Wednesday, I felt much better today with a 6 KM run-commute from the downtown core to the Beaches. Special thanks, once again, to @oasiscanada for not only supporting my training efforts, but, for also sending me a surprise package this week with some sweet Lululemon clothing, including this cool shirt! It’s still early in the process, however, I’m really pumped to see what’s in store for me next in the weeks ahead! I’m back to work this weekend, but, I’m excited for my long on Sunday! Have an awesome, and, safe, weekend of running! #shaneruns #RunWithOasis #collab #itsyourmoment #irun #marathontraining

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Now, Shane chooses to channel his friendly and outgoing nature to welcome others into the running community. Shane remains a fixture at RunToBeer group runs, the group that first got him hooked, and makes a point to introduce himself to new faces, never forgetting how intimidating your first group run can be.

Shane has also combined his experience in sales and his love of welcoming people into the running community to his career, taking on a role as a manager with the Running Room. “I started in Liberty Village and eventually jumped over to the Beaches. It keeps me in the running world doing something I love and helping others get hooked on running too.” Shane recently joined another outdoor sports retailer in Toronto, Enduro Sport, as its running and community lead.

“I like sharing my story, but without sugarcoating how tough it’s been,” Shane says. His training has meant balancing the demands of his career and cardiomyopathy, a condition which makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the body. Shane knows that his path to the marathon includes obstacles, but says, “I always hope that someone is watching and can be inspired.”

Follow Shane’s journey on Instagram @ShaneRuns0630.

Why Rick Rayman has run every day for over 40 years, and why he’s doing his 377th marathon in Toronto

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By Ravi Singh

“I just love being with runners,” is Rick Rayman’s very simple explanation as to why, at the age of 72, he had just completed his 376th marathon and would be returning for number 377 just two weeks later at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Aside from Virginia Lee, Rick is the only runner to have completed every edition of the race.

“There really isn’t any other sport where amateurs line up and compete alongside their heroes, or where Meb Keflezeghi can share a sponsor with someone like me,” Rick says.

And he really does love runners to an astonishing degree. I call Rick at his office at the University of Toronto, where he serves as director of student life at the faculty of dentistry, to discuss his accomplishments and legendary status in Canadian running, but he quickly turns the conversation to me with a genuine interest in my journey as a runner.

Dr. Rayman admits that when it comes to his 40 year run streak and unbroken Toronto Waterfront Marathon streak, “It’s partly to do with ego and being among very few people who can do it, but it’s also to show that it can be done.”

Rick has no shortage of stories of running alongside runners who were struggling at races and suffering together because he knew they would regret giving up. Now, long past his days as a 2:40 marathoner, Dr. Rayman has taken on a role more akin to a cheerleader and running ambassador.

This year, he won’t be the only member of U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry on the course. For his 30th race in Toronto, he’ll bring along around 80 students known as Rayman’s Runners to run either the 5K, half marathon, or full marathon, all in support of the Princess Margaret Foundation.

“The first year, I think we had about 10 students participate and now it’s grown to almost a hundred,” Rick says proudly. “It’s about having fun, raising funds for a cause, and accomplishing something. Running can be crucial for wellness and students are taking that away.”

In his more competitive days, Dr. Rayman had a far more serious approach to racing, going so far as to stay in a different hotel room from his family the night before a race. Now, as he runs into his 70s, fun and wellness outweighs competitiveness, just as he tries to teach his students.

“Throughout my life, three things mattered,” Dr. Rayman explains. “Family came first, my passions were second, and my profession was third. All of those things are important, but you’re not living a full life without that second one and it has to be fun.”

Dr. Rayman’s streak compared:

Rick Rayman

Second longest active running streak:

14, 920 days running (over 40 years and counting)

Cal Ripken Jr

Most games played by a MLB player:

2,632 games played over 16 years

Brett Favre

Most consecutive starts by a NFL player:

297 consecutive starts over 18 years

The Wild Card: Will Rory Linkletter become Canada’s next star marathoner?

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Now running professionally, rookie marathoner Linkletter is the dark horse of the Canadian Marathon Trials

Things have been moving quickly for Rory Linkletter as of late.

In the last year, the Calgary native and former student-athlete at Brigham Young University (BYU) moved from Provo, Utah to Flagstaff, Arizona, signed a professional running contract with Northern Arizona (NAZ) Elite, and got married to his university sweetheart.

It’s hard to believe Linkletter is only 23, and his training log might reveal his most precocious move to date.

With nothing longer than 10,000m raced (in 28:12, mind you) the six-time NCAA All-American is fast-tracking his way to a marathon debut. In July, fresh off his final NCAA campaign, Linkletter started training with some of North America’s best marathoners, including top American finisher at the 2019 Boston Marathon Scott Fauble, and 2:12 marathoner Scott Smith, in preparation for the Canadian Marathon Trials on Oct. 20.

Despite his relative youth and inexperience, Linkletter’s adjustment to marathon workouts has been smooth, even enjoyable.

“I’m having so much fun with it and am getting so excited for workouts that I am pestering my teammates,” he says. “I think that’s because of the environment I was in at BYU, being around guys like (sixth place finisher at 2012 Olympic marathon) Jared Ward and my coach (2:10 marathoner Ed Eyestone, who has competed and won in Toronto) who are so established in the distance.”

Linkletter has not increased his weekly mileage (he already hovers around 160K) in preparation for the marathon, but his race-specific workouts are now longer, more difficult, and require much recovery. Sometimes, he takes as much as four days of easy running between hard sessions, a luxury he did not have when training for the 10,000m. The difficulty of workouts has also led him to race sparingly in preparation for the Trials, which has added to the impossibility of predicting his finishing time.

It’s only with the help of comparison, Strava and Twitter that we can start answering the question on everybody’s minds: just how fast can Linkletter go?

What Will Rory Run?

One prediction tool we have is comparison. His 10,000m PB indicates that we might get treated to one of the fastest debuts in recent Canadian history.

Fastest Canadian Debuts of the last 30 years:

Cam Levins: 2:09:25 – 10k PB (27:07)

Peter Fonseca: 2:12:07 – 10k PB (N/A)

Carey Nelson: 2:12:28 – 10k PB (28:04)

Peter Maher: 2:12:58 – 10k PB (N/A)

Eric Gillis: 2:13:52 – 10k PB (28:07)

Jeff Schiebler – 2:14:13 – 10k PB (27:36)

Bruce Deacon: 2:15:16 – 10k PB (28:46)

Dylan Wykes: 2:15:16 – 10k PB: (28:12)

Graeme Fell: 2:16:13 – 10k PB (30:09)

Robin Watson: 2:16:17 – 10k PB (29:27)

Reid Coolsaet: 2:17:09 – 10k PB (27:56)

Rory Linkletter: ??? – 10k PB (28:12)

Linkletter is faster over 10,000m than three men who debuted under 2:17. He also has the exact same 10,000m time as Dylan Wykes, now a 2:10:47 marathoner.

Strava posts

Another prediction tool we have is Linkletter’s social media. His Strava account displays impressive workouts done at altitude. Here are three of his biggest sessions of September:

Rory’s Twitter Timeline

While his Strava breaks down his training by the numbers, his Twitter account provides more qualitative insight into his high-mileage journey. Plus, it’s pretty entertaining.

Behind the tweet: “I knew I was going to run Toronto for a long time, but I was feeding into the narrative that I think I am young to race it. But, for me it makes so much sense to start the marathon now. 10k to marathon, I think there is some allure to the roads. It is an intriguing challenge of strength and growth, and if I can bottle it and get the most out of myself, I know I can be good at the marathon.”

Behind the tweet: “I’m slowly figuring it out and finding pastimes between runs. I play a lot of X-Box, I watch my dog. Sometimes I hate not having things to do but at the same time I feel very fortunate that I can push my body to its maximum and see what it’s capable of doing. I am blessed in that sense.”

Behind the tweet:“This was my first session on Lake Mary Road, an iconic marathon training spot for anyone out here in Flagstaff. It’s a rolling road with a big shoulder, simulates a lot of things you’ll seen in the marathon. The first session I had it didn’t look bad on paper. It looked like an easy pace and I thought it will feel slow. But I hadn’t done a long session like that, and then add altitude to the mix. It was 1.5 mile at marathon effort, half mile at 3:45 per kilometre. That, times six. I felt really good during reps three and four, but during the fifth one, I thought my legs were getting heavy and I was pressing. The sixth one, I felt like I was walking. I had never dug myself that deep of a hole. It was just a different kind of pain. There was nothing left. I couldn’t go any faster than that pace if I tried. Now I kind of get what it means when people say they hit the wall.”

Behind the tweet: “I thought this one would hurt. It was four miles tempo, 10 miles at six minute pace, four miles tempo. The first tempo was alright, and then the 10 mile hurt more than it should. I was dreading the last four miles. I was running it with (Matthew) Baxter and (Scott) Smith, and I was terrified that I would get put in a Blender. I figured it would be painful anyway, so I just sent it. I went out way too fast, way under marathon pace: 4:58 at altitude. But I actually surprised myself after that because I cruised it in 5:02 pace and I held on pretty well. After that day I remember thinking: I could be good at this. I’m almost 20 miles in a run and I’m holding 5:02 (per mile) pace.”

Behind the tweet: “This one was a killer. 16 miles at marathon. The goal was to run 5:17 pace. The first two miles felt really good. Two miles later I thought “I will not have a day out here.” Two miles later I thought “coach, pull me out of here.” I’m not looking at my watch because it hurts. I want him to say that I’m going backwards and that I should stop. I get to 14 miles and there are headwinds and hills. I felt I was so done, and I see my coach. “Finally, he’s going to pull me out,” I think. But, he looks at me and just says, “be competitive.” Are you kidding me? So I ran my last few miles at 5:20 and 5:30 and my legs hurt so bad. Later that Sunday I was watching football and my legs were just screaming.”

That tweet caught the attention of a fellow Canadian marathoner who knows the feeling too well.

The Bottom Line

A new wave of Canadian marathoners (which might eventually include Ben Flanagan, Mike Tate, Chris Balestrini and Farah Abdulkarim, among others) is about to rock the ship, and its headliner is nothing short of a national treasure. Rory Linkletter loves to run, is entertaining, and is still a totally unknown quantity heading into these Trials. At worst, he overestimates his fitness and crashes into a brick wall of hubris. At best, he runs one of the fastest debuts in Canadian history, and challenges for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team. Either way, we are likely witnessing the start of a long and successful marathoning career.

“What I want to do is be a professional in all aspects of the sport, make history, and run fast,” says Linkletter. “I think the marathon is my distance, and no matter what happens in Toronto, I am excited to get started.”

Two-time Olympic marathoner Eric Gillis on his Toronto breakthrough

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By Ravi Singh

For someone so understated in his demeanour and approach to training, Eric Gillis is good at causing commotion. There was of course his top 10 finish in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Canada’s best result at that event in decades.

In 2011, as he approached the finish line of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Gillis could hear the crowd counting down in unison as he threw down his final kick. From his office, the now head coach of St. FX Cross Country recalls, “The announcer started the countdown. I thought it was interesting that the crowd was counting me down and that they were pretty much going to be bang on. I didn’t realize right away that they weren’t just counting me down, but the Olympic Standard in general.”

When he crossed the finish line, Eric kept his cool and didn’t rush to celebrate. “I crossed and everyone cheered, but I saw the time and knew that I was one second under. In road racing, the time averages up.” He needed to be under 2:11:28.5 in order to meet the standard of 2:11:29.

Eric could finally breathe when the official time came down as 2:11:27.2, which would take him to London in 2012, the payoff of a quiet grit that’s defined Gillis’ career.

Passion

Gillis has run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon five times. Though he hails from Nova Scotia and trained out of Guelph during his collegiate career, he fondly calls Toronto his hometown race—the event where he always knew the most people, found his biggest support, and felt like he as part of something special.

Toronto also offers the opportunity for the elites and non-elites to cross paths on the course through the out and back portion along the city’s Lakeshore. Gillis says, “I’ve heard my name being called and I draw from that energy. It was great to be part of other people’s experience as well. I’ve heard people say that they want to finish the half before I finish the full and I love being part of someone else’s achievement. It helps put some perspective on it and reminds you that it’s supposed to be fun as well.”

Eric Gillis finishing 10th overall at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Courage

London 2012 would be Eric’s second trip to the Olympics, having represented Canada in the 10,000m event at the 2008 Beijing Games. “If I wanted to stick with running long-term,” Eric explains, “I needed to move to the marathon.” The 10,000m didn’t offer enough opportunity to compete and had less cache than the marathon.

With two marathons under his belt, Eric was about 40 seconds off the Olympic standard and thought that with a stronger build than he had for his previous marathon, where he was dogged by knee issues, would get him there. Nonetheless, “Knowing that I could run 2:12.08 gave me the confidence to go into the following year’s race with more control.”

Follow Through

Taking the leap not just from the track to the marathon, but to the Olympic standard, didn’t feel as daunting as it perhaps should have. According to Eric, “I didn’t have to really do anything differently, just do it more efficiently and with more confidence this time around.”

Training out of Guelph at the time with Reid Coolsaet, Eric recalls, “I really enjoyed my build up because I trained with Reid, and I was able to track where I’d been compared to the previous year.”

“You have to have mental toughness, but you also have to be able to forget things and let it go.”

The training didn’t feel like an all-out assault on his mind or body. The consistency of his performances, and his ability to dig deep, reveal a mental toughness that eludes many. “It’s about situational aggressiveness,” Eric explains. “You have to have mental toughness, but you also have to be able to forget things and let it go.” That’s how Eric saw the progression, evaluating outcomes as he went and relying on the support system around him.

“I take my time when I’m serious about something.”

His whole career had been a year-to-year evaluation of whether or not he wanted to continue competing, so the same model applied to training. Manage the day to day and follow through as necessary.

“I take my time when I’m serious about something,” Eric says, “which was easy to do in Guelph because I didn’t have to get caught up in the goals. I could just look forward to training with guys who were as good, better than, or even behind me.”

Gillis racing the 2011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Resilience

When race day arrived, “Everything said I was capable on a nice day. Even if if was a little windy, I could still fight through and have a bit of a cushion.”

Reid Coolsaet already had the standard, so he would race all out and land himself a podium finish at 2:10:54.

“At 32K, we turned into the wind and I had some time under me. I checked the splits and liked what I saw.” At 33K, Eric noticed a slightly slower split and “I decided that the math wasn’t going to help, so I just went all out and raced it.”

By 41K, Gillis knew it was going to be within 5 or 10 seconds, “So I knew I that I’d have to go all out so that I’d have no regrets. Even if I was a second over, I wanted to know that I gave it everything.”

The urge to do math, however, still lingered. “There were 300m left and I had about a minute to break that. That’s something I’d done regularly on the track, so I finally went for it.”

With the finish in sight, the announcer started counting down.

Excellence

“Toronto in 2011 was definitely a career highlight at that point, Rio being number one overall and London 2012 maybe number two for the experience if not the performance,” is Eric’s assessment.

For all the sterling achievements, nailing the Olympic Standard included, the foundation was a desire to run. “When I was in Guelph I knew that I wanted to be a professional athlete and I never wanted to sacrifice a future performance for one day. Even Rio was just one day and the process to get there wasn’t for that one day–I did it for all the days before that.”

That time a 100 year old ran a marathon in Toronto

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By Ravi Singh

One day, a bearded figure with origins in a small rural town no one ever heard of and who was witness to an astonishing amount of history—two world wars, the partitioning of India, the invention of television and the iPhone, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and more—decided, for no particular reason, to go for a little run.

“At 89 years, he took seriously to running and ended up in international marathon events,” is one of the many excerpts of Fauja Singh’s Wikipedia page that manage to be astonishing, hilarious, delightful, absurd, and inspiring. Like any biography befitting a proper legend, Fauja’s life has come to read as a blend of truthful elements, life lessons, perhaps a little embellishment, and tales of extreme adversity leading to unlikely triumph.

The oldest man to ever finish a marathon at 101, supposedly didn’t walk until he was five. Running through every story about the man they called the Turbaned Tornado, however, is an unquestioned reverence for what he achieved, the impact he made, and the people he inspired.

The adventure was triggered when Fauja met Harmander Singh, President of the Sikhs in the City Running Club, himself a marathoner 160 times over, met Fauja. The latter had moved to the UK in 1994 to stay with his son after another one of his children passed, leaving him with no close relations in his homeland of India.

Accordng to Harmander, “his simple outlook on life and respect for all based on his religious values of remembering God, working honestly, and sharing with others” resonated with everyone from youth, fellow runners, and even the Queen, who included Fauja as part of the 2015 New Year Honours List.

“Fauja Singh was introduced to me by Sukhjeevan Singh, a local businessman, in 1999,” Harmander recalls. Fauja was hoping to enter the London Marathon, but had missed the cutoff date. Harmander had previously run London in support of the Harefield Heart Transplant Trust on behalf of Sukhjeevan, whose son was awaiting a heart transplant. Harmander had subsequently trained Sukhjeevan to run the London Marathon on his own, so the latter figured that Harmander could find Fauja a bib and train him in the 12 weeks remaining before the race.

In 2003, race director Alan Brookes invited Fauja to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He’d come back again in 2011 to celebrate his 100th birthday. Though Guinness never verified his record because of an absent birth certificate, his time of eight hours made him the oldest marathon finisher in history.

After 42 kilometers, Fauja still had the energy to entertain admirers and leave a legacy in the city. Harmander explains that the race “…was the trigger for many health conscious initiatives such as the ‘Inspirational Steps’ program organised by the Toronto based Guru Gobind Singh Children’s Foundation, which has evolved into an annual series of different distance races attracting over 500 participants from the South Asian communities.”

Now, past his 108th birthday, Fauja continues to move, though his comparatively sedate routine covers about six miles of walking every day. According to Harmander, “He is coping well with the onset of nature on his body and is reluctant to let people down who wish him to attend their functions.”

“Fauja has always said he loves the attention in a respectable way and feels he must be doing good if his actions or presence inspires people to become more active and positive about themselves,” Harmander says.

The marathon is meant to humble us and show us a world beyond ourselves. Fauja, humble as he is, might be one of a very few runners whose life and personality make the marathon seem small.

This runner literally wrote the book on what it’s like to run all around the world

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Globetrotting author and elite American marathoner Becky Wade-Firth is ready for the race of her life in Toronto

It’s hard to believe that this Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be Becky Wade-Firth’s first race in Canada. The 30-year-old is surely the most travelled entrant on the race’s elite start list.

In July 2012, fresh out of Rice University, the Dallas native travelled the world on a Watson Fellowship to immerse herself in multiple running cultures across countries. The documentation of her year of running abroad is now bound in Run The World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe, a must-read memoir for runners, published in 2016.

“After college, I wrote a proposal about how I would spend my dream year and how I would pursue it,” says Wade-Firth about her application for the fellowship, which promotes purposeful travel and is granted yearly to 40 graduating seniors across the United States. “I built my proposal on long distance running cultures and training styles because I fell in love with the lifestyle I had in college.”

And so began Wade-Firth’s running pilgrimage to parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. She ran on the world’s fastest one-mile course in New Zealand, she learned about ancient Midsummer Rituals in Finland, and she tackled punishing tempo runs up the mountains of Switzerland.

“One conversation that resonated with me was when I asked an Ethiopian athlete how much she ran every week and she had no idea.”

In Tokyo, she crammed onto the Namban International Running Club track with thousands of others for weekly practices, followed by a public bath and social drinks. In Ethiopia, she relished the laid-back running culture. “One conversation that resonated with me was when I asked an Ethiopian athlete how much she ran every week and she had no idea,” says Wade-Firth. “She guessed somewhere between 30 and 100 miles.”

The runner had planned to visit nine countries, but that number quickly ballooned when she followed new acquaintances to new land. She wrote several entries in a travel blog entitled Becky Runs Away, and inserted her final statistics on the blog’s landing page.

Countries visited: 22

Beds: 72

Pairs of Running Shoes: 11

Miles Run: 3,504 (that’s 5,639 km)

Wade-Firth wrote online so that her mother and sister could follow stories of her adventure, but had little aspiration of turning her entries into a book. Her blog, however, gained so much traction that her high-school friend, who had become a literary agent in New York City, nudged her to take her writings one step further. By 2016, Wade-Firth published with Harper Collins, which led to new opportunities for the now-30-year-old.

“I realized you can make endless connections through travel and running and the intersection of both,” says Wade-Firth, who now contributes regularly to Runner’s World, among other outlets. “Now people will ask me for running route recommendations, I get to talk at bookstores and expos… it has really opened doors.”

Wade-Firth hopes to write a second book, but is in no rush to publish.

“Writing a book is kind of like running a marathon,” she says. “The first one, I was so naïve, it just happened. The second one, you see it differently. You know the amount of work it takes to succeed – you just want to nail it.”

Wade-Firth has now waited over five years to perfectly nail a second marathon. Her debut in Sacramento in 2013, shortly after her year of travel, remains her best to date: 2:30:41.

Lately, however, training is going well. Wade-Firth now lives in Boulder, CO and just last year reached new heights in the half-marathon, running 1:11:15. This year, she has already raced five times in her marathon build, and has only lost to two of her compatriots in that stretch: 2011 Pan-American steeplechase gold medalist Sara Hall and 2016 10,000m Olympian Emily Infeld. Wade-Firth now brims with confidence, and believes it possible to achieve the IAAF Olympic Standard of 2:29:30.

“I feel like my PR is way overdue for being shattered. I feel like I’ve been ready before – the conditions were off and I haven’t done it. I can talk all I want – Toronto is the day to put it all together.”

Why Toronto?

“One thing about Toronto is that it likely won’t be hot and humid there,” says Wade-Firth. “I know some people go there to run fast.”

And what does an expert on running cultures have to say about the one in Canada?

“Polite definitely comes to mind. I shared a cab with Cam Levins in Philadelphia once, and cooled down with Emily Setlack (at the Rock and Roll Philly Half-Marathon) and she was speaking so highly of her Canadian competition. It seems like there is an intimate community of runners.

“I also think Canadians are really tough, similar to the Scandinavians. Getting through a cold winter requires a different type of toughness. I’ll have to go up there and see for myself.”