TORONTO, October 8th. Strong runs by Kingston's Dylan Wykes and Vancouver's Suzanne Evans, plus a gutsy performance by Nicole Stevenson led Team Canada to victory over Mexico and England in the International Team Challenge at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon '08 last weekend.
Despite a warmish, humid morning [17°Celcius, 83% humidity] Dylan Wykes, Suzanne Evans and Nicole Stevenson ran hard to defeat good teams from Mexico and England this year. "It was a tough day out there," said Wykes, who finished in 2:16:21, to give him top ranking in the race for the 5 Canadian men's spots at the Berlin World Championships marathon next August. "It was a tough race for me to stay focused and motivated, and the conditions made the effort feel tough very early in the race. It was great to get through another marathon (and another marathon training cycle)! It was a very valuable experience. One that will hopefully help me if I am selected to run in next year's World Cup Marathon in Berlin!"
Suzanne Evans finished strong, ran a PR of 2:44:23 and was happiest of the bunch. "I've been trying to go under 2:45 for a long while," she said. "Now I feel darn good!"
Initially hoping for something in the 2:35 to 2:37 range, Nicole Stevenson developed an achilles problem and had to battle the pain to finish in 2:44:58. It was a great, gutsy effort by the Steeltown native. Ottawa's Matt McInnes had already dropped out, and without her finish, Team Canada would have not had the necessary 3-to-count in the Team Challenge standings. "I'm now out of commission with a partially torn achilles—but at least I can't say I didn't "give it my all" on the day," said Stevenson, who was unable to make it to the stage for the Awards ceremony. Waterloo's Steven Drew, who was the team's "first alternate" prior to race-week final selections, also ran well, coming home in 2:19:59.
Using the latest version of the Mercier Performance Tables, Team Canada scored 2,301 points [Wykes 798; Evans 754; Stevenson 749]; over 2nd place Mexico's 2,186 [Alicia Rodruigez 739; Sergio Reyes 738; Judith Ramirez 709]; and 3rd place Team England's 2,126 [Kim Fawke 777; Gareth Raven 697; Andrea Woodvine 653]. Ipswich's Helen Decker also had a good outing, of 2:45:17.
Over the past three years, the International Team Challenge at Scotia Toronto Waterfront has grown into a major "developmental" opportunity. England Athletics actually sent a squad of 8 athletes and two managers this year, as part of their planned build up to the Commonwealth Games in 2010.