Dual-citizen and defending Canadian marathon champion embraces the maple leaf, and hopes to don it in Tokyo
Kinsey Middleton earned her red and white stripes when she broke away from competition at last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, stopped the clock at 2:32:09, and earned the national crown. It was a first Canadian title for the then-25-year-old, in her debut in the race distance.
Middleton threw down nearly perfect splits and crossed the finish line with relative ease, after notoriously exclaiming “This is so much fun!” near the 16K marker while running alongside Leslie Sexton and pacer Natasha Wodak. Murphy’s Law, which especially holds true for young, first-time marathoners, clearly did not apply to the Boise, Idaho native.
“I have been dreaming of being an Olympian since I was in kindergarten.”
That was the beauty of Middleton’s 2018 performance: it seemed effortless, her step up to the marathon almost serendipitous (barely a year prior, she focused on the 1,500m.) But the honeymoon is over now, judgment day is approaching, and the stakes at this year’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon are higher than ever. Not only does Middleton have a title to defend, she gets to chase a long-time dream: Tokyo.
“I have been dreaming of being an Olympian since I was in kindergarten,” says Middleton, from her home in Boise, “and I knew at a really young age I could choose the country for which I would try to compete.”
Middleton has never lived in Canada, but she represented the country for the first time at the 2018 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships. Her grandmother currently lives in Guelph, and her grandfather in Nova Scotia. This fall, Middleton is eager to show her nation of heritage to her husband for the first time, a nation for which she grows fonder every year.
“As soon as I made the decision that I wanted to run for Canada,” she says, “it feels like home every time I go. Even though I don’t live there, I feel such a sense of pride. Representing Canada internationally would be my dream come true.”
To make that happen, the Oregon State and Idaho graduate plans on showing up in Toronto and the marathon trials more prepared than ever: she has ramped up her training, adjusted her lifestyle… and made sure to brush up on her Canadian trivia (more on that later).
“Physically, I feel different this year than last. I am averaging around 120 miles (roughly 195km) and my highest week has been around 130 (roughly 210 km.) It’s hard because you want to play the comparison game. My coach has made the workouts harder this year, so that I don’t get caught comparing. A big test effort we will do a few weeks out is 7 x 5km at marathon pace. Last year, I ran that workout at the exact same pace as I did the marathon, so I think it will be a great indicator of what’s possible.
Mentally, I think just having the experience, I’m going in knowing what to expect. Sure, the pressure is greater for having won last year, and the field is more stacked this year because it’s the (Olympic) trials, but I think I know better what I can accomplish this year. Last year, my coach did such a good job telling me “this is your first marathon, it is not going to be your best marathon.” So, now, I’m nervous, but excited for the next ones.”
“I used to train full time, and wanted to balance it with something. After the (Canadian trials) marathon last year, I started working at a holistic medicine office in Idaho. I used to work at the office, but it was hard to balance with running. I felt like I had to do it all. So I asked my employers if I could work from home, and they were so supportive. They said “we really want to have an Olympian working here!” So I manage to balance work and running. This year, my routine looks like this:
- Wake up at 6:30 a.m.
- A.M. run with my team (Idaho Distance Project)
- Strength work at the gym for an hour
- Work from home (also try to fit a nap in on the big mileage days)
- P.M.: shakeout run around my neighbourhood trails
- Make dinner—I love cooking big healthy meals so I have leftovers for lunches.
- Walk my pups (Hank and Duke) with my husband in the park behind our house
- Bedtime around 9 p.m.
I think I wasn’t doing as many of the “little things” in last year’s marathon build up. Specifically, I wasn’t doing the gym or strength work, which has made a big difference this time around. Also, taking the time to nap and rest is more of a priority this build up as well.
The Canada Quiz
Middleton says she still gets (friendly) flack from some of her competitors for being born and living across the border. So, we gave her the chance to prove her Canadian-ness by giving her a pop quiz.
Who is Canada’s Prime minister?
Justin Trudeau (1 point)
Canada’s official animal
Not the Canadian goose… oh! The moose! (0 points – Correct Answer: Beaver)
What is the name of a one-dollar coin?
The Loonie! (1 point)
Name the Canadian who invented Basketball?
I don’t know… but that’s because I know nothing about basketball! (0 points – Correct Answer – James Naismith)
What is Canada’s national sport?
Curling… no! No, I know this: lacrosse! I knew it wasn’t hockey. (1 point)
Name of the person who invented the telephone
Bell, that was his last name (accepted – Alexander Graham Bell – 1 point)
Name of current Canadian marathon record holders?
Easy. Cam (Levins) and Rachel (Cliff) *bonus marks for being on first name basis with the record holders (1.5 points)
Number of provinces and territories?
Well, I could name you the provinces. Then there are two territories. Yukon and North West Territories. (0.5 points – Correct Answer, three territories)
Capital of Canada?
Ottawa (1 point)
Name of the first Canadian to win a grand slam tennis title?
Bianca! (1 point)
8 out of 10 – Maple syrup in her veins!