News & Releases >> October 14 2011

Drama Filled Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

By Paul Gains

Kenneth Mungara, 2010 STWM winner

With $150,000 prize money and various international Olympic team places at stake the 2011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 16th is filled with drama.

Kenya's ageless superstar Kenneth Mungara, now 38, returns to this IAAF Silver Label race seeking a fourth consecutive victory in Toronto. But it will not be easy. His compatriot, Nixon Machichim — 4th last year in 2:08:22 — is in great shape and would be pleased with himself if he could unseat Toronto's favourite Kenyan.

Neither can hope for a place on Kenya's Olympic team — Athletics Kenya has announced world champion Abel Kirui and world record holder Patrick Makau have been given two of the three spots — but they will be motivated by time, money and the honour of winning what has become one of the top four marathons on the North American continent.

Mungara's Canadian All Comers' record which he set here last year (2:07:58) could be in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, a strong Canadian contingent led by Reid Coolsaet (2:11:23), his fellow Speed River Track Club teammate, Eric Gillis (2:12:08) and Dylan Wykes (2:12:39) will be staking a claim for three positions in the London Olympics. Coolsaet's time from a year ago leaves him in the driver's seat and, unless Gillis, Wykes and the absent Simon Bairu can run faster than his best time, he will be representing Canada at London 2012.

With the race pushed back three weeks later than in the past — and the start now at 9:00am — larger crowds can be expected along this pancake flat course. The time changes might have had another impact on the event too. This year's marathon entry cap of 5,000 was reached two weeks ago — the first time in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon history it has been sold out. That is good news for local charities who stand to benefit to the tune of some $3 million thanks to fundraising efforts of STWM participants.

The women's race also promises to be a hotly contested affair. A pair of Ethiopia's top women also have Olympic aspirations and know they must run personal bests to impress their country's selectors.

Mare Dibaba holds the Ethiopian national half marathon record of 1:07:13 which makes her the eighth fastest woman in history at that distance. Last year she ran 2:25:27 at the Frankfurt marathon demonstrating her potential at the classic distance. Certainly she is not short of confidence.

“I am expecting to run between 2:22 and 2:23 if I have a good pacemaker,” she declares. “I am looking for a good time so I can go to the London Olympics.”

Her compatriot, Koren Jelela Yal, ran 2:24:33 in Toronto a year ago and won the steamy hot Mumbai marathon January 16, 2011 in 2:26:56. She comes to Toronto in the best shape of her life.

“My fitness and preparation has been better than last year,” she says “My target will be to run my personal best, under 2:24, but, to do it, everything depends on the weather conditions and if I have a good pacemaker like last year.”

Folks from the Guinness Book of World Records will be in Toronto also to follow the extraordinary performances of Britain's 100 year old Fauja Singh who hopes to be the first centenarian to finish a marathon. Earlier this year he received a congratulatory letter from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and launched his biography at the House of Lords. And, he has also appeared in the adidas “Impossible is Nothing” advertising campaign which has added to his celebrity.

Not to be outdone Canada's own mind blowing master's competitor, Ed Whitlock, will attempt to break his world record for 80 year olds on Sunday. He ran 3:25:43 at the Rotterdam Marathon in the spring. That's fast enough for a man half his age to qualify for Boston!

World class runners, record breaking possibilities and it will all be captured by CBC Television for live broadcast on digital channel Bold and on www.cbcsports.ca starting at 8:30am ET, with a highlights show on CBC main network across the country, beginning at 3:00pm local time.

To follow all aspects of the race from broadcasts to "live" Blogs and Twitter feeds and "live Results", go to www.stw.ca on race Day. What a weekend!

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