News & Releases >> Aug 31 2010
TORONTO. August 31st. Ethiopians Tirfi Beyene Tsegaye and Firehiwot Dado have been confirmed to start the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, September 26th, and lead an assault on the Canadian All-comers marathon record for women. That mark, of 2:26:01, was set by Roumania's Lidia Simon at the World Championships in Edmonton in 2001. The 25 year old Tsegaye ran a sparkling 2:24:51 to place 3rd at the Paris Marathon this Spring, and Dado has been the Rome women's champion for the past 2 years. She clocked a PR of 2:25:28 for the victory this March. Together, they will lead an impressive group of Ethiopian women, with the hopes of continuing their country's dominance on the Toronto Waterfront. Ethiopians have claimed the Women's title the past 3 years in a row, with victories from Asha Gigi, Mulu Seboka, and Amane Gobena. Last year, Gobena established a new course record of 2:28:31. She has subsequently gone onto run 2:25:14 in Osaka in January and 2:24:13 in Seoul in March. To claim victory and the additional $25,000 bonus for the new fastest-ever Women's time on Canadian soil, Tsegaye and Dado will have to fight off the best and deepest international women's field in Toronto to date. Fellow Ethiopians Koren Yal and Merima Mohammed, Russians Alevtina Ivanova and Albina Mayorova, Kenyans Sharon Cherop and Rose Kosgei, and Japanese Maki Suzawa and Ayumi Nakayama all hope to push the pace and have a say in the final outcome.
For Tsegaye, Paris was a big step forward in a marathon career that has really blossomed over the past two years. It began in the Fall of 2008 with a victory in Porto, in a modest 2:35:31. In the Spring of '09 she took a large leap forward, running 2:29:04 for 2nd place in Turin. Last October she placed 6th in the IAAF World Half Marathon in Birmingham in a PR of 69:24, then followed that up with another 2nd place marathon — this time in Shanghai in November, in 2:28:16. Then it was onto Paris this April:
Paris Marathon was a beautiful day. I took a big risk to follow Atsede Beysa [5th at STWM08] in a speed of 70 minutes at half-way, but I felt very strong, my training was very good, and the weather conditions perfect. Birmingham was a very difficult course, and my 69 minutes there gave me confidence.
For Toronto I have followed the same system of training as for Paris, but increasing a bit the quality of some workouts on the track to try to improve the power of my "engine".
To run 2h24' again is not easy because you must be lucky, to be in top shape, and to find a day with perfect weather conditions and strong opponents. Anyway I will try my best to improve my personal best because always, since I started my carrier, every marathon I ran faster than the previous 42 km and I am proud of this.
Just a year older than Tsegaye, at age 26, Firehiwot Dado finds her marathon career on an almost identical path. Her debut was also in the Fall of 2008:
Kosice was my first marathon. I was in good shape but you never know how you are going to run the first time. I was competitive and it was very windy. I almost won, but I was not happy with my time [2:37:34]. Then Rome was a very big marathon and competitive with great pacemakers. I ran to my fitness level and was victorious.
We have a great group of athletes who train together in Addis with Coach Haji Adillo, and we all motivate each other to keep improving. I hope I can keep improving and run sub 2:25 in Toronto.
While relative veterans Tsegaye and Dado will toe the Start line as favourites at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront, fellow-Ethiopians Koren Yal and Merima Mohammed are still learning, but possess lots of talent. Only 23 years old, Yal had her come-uppance at Boston this Spring. Following a very encouraging marathon debut in Venice last Fall, where she ran 2:28:41 for 2nd, she went out aggressively with the leaders at the Ras Al Khaimah Half in February, passing 10k in 31:55 before fading to 10th in 70:52. That day, she was 3 minutes behind compatriot Teyba Erkesso. Then at Boston this April she bravely — but injudiciously — was the only one to go with Erkesso when she made the decisive break at halfway, running 16:21 between 20k and 25k. Koren paid the price, fading badly in the later stages, finishing 12th in 2:33:48; Erkesso also faded but hung on for victory in 2:26:11.
“In Boston I made a big mistake,” says Koren. “Instead of being patient when I saw Erkesso move, I felt good and decided to follow her. Anyway, I learned a big lesson and I hope that this negative experience will help me in Toronto.
Now that I have a bit more experience, I hope I will make the right decision the day of the race... I would like to try to run a new personal best and I hope to be competitive to finish on the podium. But if my training continues as well as it has, I think it will be possible to do even better.”
At a mere 18 years of age, Merima Mohammed comes to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront with the same combination of talent and inexperience. Like Dado and Erkesso, she trains with Coach Haji Adillo's group in Addis Ababa. She ran her first marathon last Fall in Cannes, in 2:33:56, was 12th in the World Junior Cross in Bydgoszcz in March, then took a huge step forward winning the Ottawa Marathon in May in a fine solo run of 2:28:16.
To maintain their supremacy on the Toronto Waterfront, this formidable Ethiopian pack will have to prevail over a deep international field that offers a similar mix of experience and talented up-and-comers. Russians Alevtina Ivanova and Albina Mayorova provide both talent and experience. They train together with Coach Mikhail Kuznetsov in Cheboksary, the base of so many of Russia's top female marathoners. At 35, Ivanova has been running marathons for 8 years, including two victories in Nagano in 2007 and '08, where he set her PR of 2:26:38. This Spring she was 2nd in Prague in 2:27:36.Now 33, Albina Mayorova's marathoning career began in 2001, and has seen her on the Start lines in Chicago , London [2004 and her PR of 2:27:25] and Boston this Spring where she finished 10th in 2:31.
Kenya and Japan will both provide two strong female challengers in Sharon Cherop and Rose Kosgei, and Ayumi Nakayama and Maki Suzawa. Cherop is hoping to come close to 2:26 on a good day in Toronto, following her confidence-boosting victory in Hamburg in April in 2:28:36. At age 26 she is looking for the opportunity to move her career to the next level. Rose Kosgei is on debut on September 26th, hoping that she can convert some fine half marathon performances into an impressive race over 42km. She comes in as Prague Half Marathon champion for '09 and 2010, running impressive times of 69:03 and 69:57 for the two victories.
Similarly, Nakayama and Suzawa will start Toronto Waterfront, one wanting to improve her 2:28 PR and the other trying to make a strong move up from the half to the full marathon. Both are from the Yamada Denki team and are currently finishing their training at altitude camp at Sugadaira in the mountains of Nagano; both will be racing in North America for the first time. Ayumi Nakayami is just 25 years old, and holds her PR of 2:28:50 from the 2008 Osaka International Ladies Marathon. Freezing rain at this year's Osaka prevented her from improving on this mark but since then she has clocked her best half marathon since she began running marathons. Her teammate Suzawa is the current #1 distance runner on the Yamada Denki [women's] corporate team, with high hopes of building on the promise suggested by her half marathon best of 70:23. She will be 22 years old on race day for her marathon debut. According to their coach, Katsuaki Isobata who reports from the camp, “Suzawa is enthusiastic and looking tough. Nakayama looks great and seems very confident, planning on a PR. I think she is going to do fantastic.”
Organizers are hoping that this combination will provide Toronto's best-ever Women's marathon.
“We're especially excited about the prospects for our Women's race this year. Frankly, our women's Course Record is a bit soft [2:28:31]. Historically, our women's field has not been as strong, nor nearly as deep as the men's. But that's definitely not the case this year. With so many talented women from a broad range of countries and continents, we're hoping for a cracking race and a world-class time. It would be very special to see someone take out Lidia Simon's Women's All-comers mark. Then Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront would hold both records for fastest men's and fastest women's marathons run on Canadian soil,” said Race Director Alan Brookes.
There are still about 1,000 places available for this year's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront, to be run on Sunday, September 26th. Information and entry at www.stwm.ca.