Adugna Takele Joins Strong Ethiopian Team for TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon  

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by Paul Gains  

TORONTO, ON (August 31, 2023) – Ten years after his first appearance on Canadian soil Adugna Takele will chase victory at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 15th.  

The Ethiopian won the 2013 Ottawa 10k and has since transformed into a world-class marathon runner with enormous experience across four continents. Now 34, he recorded a best time of 2:05:52 at the 2022 Seville Marathon and believes he can run even faster. 

“I am preparing myself very well for Toronto,” he says from his home in Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa. “I’m trying to cover 170 kilometres per week as I am feeling better from my (Spring-time) hamstring injury. 

“I do have some information about Toronto from my friends and fellow athletes like Lemi Berhanu, and Gebretsadik Abraha who have been to race there and from my Coach Gemedu Dedefo. They say the course is good and challenging. If I feel healthy I will run faster (than 2:05:52)” 

Lemi Berrhanu was the 2016 Boston Marathon champion and finished 2nd in the 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon (2:05:09) while Gebretsadik Abraha has raced in Toronto twice finishing 6th in 2014 and 5th in 2017. The trio are part of a large and talented group coached by Gemedu Dedefo and managed by the Italian Demadonna Athletics Productions.  

On previous visits to Canada Adugna has run the Ottawa Marathon twice finishing 3rd in 2018. After running 2:10:12 in Barcelona this past March he was expecting to run again in Ottawa but didn’t receive his passport and Canadian visa in time. The disappointment was tangible. 

“Yes, I had been preparing for the race but didn’t go because of the visa problem,” he explains.  “You can imagine how it affects the mind because, as an athlete, I had been working the whole time in aiming to win that race. When I heard that the visa was not ready I was speechless.” 

Like his training partners he is dependent upon earning money from competitions to support his family – he and his wife have a young son Gadisa Adugna – so the financial impact was immense. 

“I was very much expecting to win the prize money as well, but it didn’t happen,” he says. The disappointment led him to a break in training. “Yes, {the break} was not actually the whole summer but just a few weeks and then I started to prepare myself for the next race.” 

Toronto Waterfront Marathon has $160,000 total prize money with $20,000 to the winner which is obviously of great interest to him. 

Adugna comes from the town of Huruta in central Ethiopia and like many Ethiopian runners was inspired by the achievements of the country’s Olympic runners especially Haile Gebrselassie. But it is his father’s brother whom he credits with being the biggest influence upon him. 

“When I was a student our school use to make us run during our sport period but of my uncle is the one to help me involve in running,” he adds. ”I began running in school then by the time I joined an athletic club I assured myself that I will become a world-class athlete.” 

That uncle, Worku Bikila, was a world-class 5,000m athlete who finished 6th at the 1992 Olympic 5,000m final and was 4th in the World Championships the following year.   Asked if he had seen videos of Worku in action when he was child he says not. 

“No, I was a kid at that time and there wasn’t television to watch or radios to listen to.  But after I became an athlete I have got a chance to see him on social media,” he reveals. 

“When I was a kid I grew up watching him having a good life and I just wanted to be just like him in every way. Then I realized that he was an athlete. So I wanted to become an athlete like him; to live just like him.” 

In 2008 Adugna moved to Addis Ababa and lived with Worku for a couple of months until he got established. When he received his first salary from his running club – Oromio Police Club – he went to live in a rented house with some of his friends. The influence and support he received from his uncle has continued and Adugna adds with pride: “In 2015 he watched me run the Great Ethiopian Run in Addis Ababa.” 

On that occasion Adugna finished 3rd in what is Africa’s biggest 10km race with more than 40,000 competitors. Founded by Haile Gebrselassie, it can be the pathway to greater things as many foreign managers as well as Ethiopian national and club coaches attend each year to spot the talent.  

These days his family is his main priority. 

“Every morning I do my exercise, and then I spend my time with my family and with my friends sometimes watching movies,” he reveals. “I visit my family in Huruta.  I go there very often to  visit my family and to share all the happy and sad moments.” 

Addis is a modern city with its own light rail system to serve its more than 3 million residents. Although he has lived there for many years he knows that when he retires he will not stay in the capital.  

“No, not at all. I want to live outside of Addis, I enjoy silence and an area full of nature,” he states. Again, his uncle’s success in business has proven inspiration. Worku Bikila has a hotel and water well-drilling business in Dukem, a town outside Addis. 

“He is a hard-working person and a successful person in the business he is involved in. We hope to be like him in the future.” 

Victory at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon would be helpful in his athletic development as well as financially beneficial. But when he lines up his focus will be on winning and recording a fast time. He knows he is due for another sublime performance.  


Molly Bookmyer Overcame Cancer and Now Challenges TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon  

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by Paul Gains  

TORONTO, ON (September 7, 2023) – Marathoners endure much suffering in order to excel in their sport but few have struggled with brain cancer. 

American Molly Bookmyer underwent two surgeries eight years ago following diagnosis of a brain tumour while finishing up her degree at Ohio State University.  

With that awful period behind her now, as an elite marathoner, her path has led her to the 2023 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she, and a growing number of American elites, will attempt to qualify for the 2024 US Olympic Trials, to be run in Orlando, Florida on February 3.   

Her current best is 2:31:39 and she sees Toronto Waterfront – her first international race – as an opportunity to knock off a significant chunk of time. 

“I want to run 2:27,” she reveals. “I feel I haven’t had a breakthrough in my marathon I have had some good races at shorter distances. I ran a 1:10:51 half marathon last fall. So I have had some success at the shorter distances and I haven’t quite figured out the full marathon distance yet.  

“My first goal is to get the world championship standard and the second goal is to get the Olympic standard.” 

Bookmyer graduated from Ohio State in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Management and Operations. While she was a member of the Buckeyes’ cross country and track teams she was not a scholarship athlete. Now she has a better understanding as to why she was limited. 

“I was a walk-on at OSU. I got better but I wasn’t a star in college,“ she explains. “When I look back at it, it was probably because I was sick at the time. I didn’t know I had a brain tumour. I competed on the team but my times weren’t spectacular. I lettered in cross country and track but I wasn’t All American and I didn’t make it to the NCAA’s.” 

A series of stress fractures also held her back and it was by a stroke of luck that the tumour was discovered. 

“In different blood tests to try to find why I got stress fractures they found one of my hormones prolactin was high,” Bookmyer says.  “This (hormone) is associated with tumours near your pituitary gland. They did a scan and they found the tumour in my ventricle. It was kind of luck. I probably had symptoms but thought it was normal.” 

Following the diagnosis she underwent a spinal tap to determine if the cancer cells were in her spinal column. Fortunately, it came back negative. But the surgery to remove the growing tumour was vital. 

Originally from Cleveland she moved to Columbus to study at OSU and remained there ever since. That’s also where she met her husband, Eric.   

Immediately after graduation she worked for the Abercrombie & Fitch company. Then, having dealt with her own serious illness, Eric was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Running was helpful in both relieving the stress of being a full-time caregiver to him as well as helping in her own recovery.  

“I am healthy now,” she says through a smile. “I get a brain scan every year. It used to be every six months. After the first surgery I had complications from the surgery. The tumour has not come back. 

“Eric just had his 5-year checkup, He had a couple of surgeries and ‘chemo’ so now he is healthy as well, I guess we are lucky we went through a lot and came out the other side healthy.” 

Two years ago she was recruited by one of her former contacts at Abercrombie & Fitch to work for Hawthorne Gardening Company which is involved in the hydroponics industry selling lights, pots, containers, benches and other gardening equipment in both the cannabis and general botany industry.  Most importantly, the job allows her to work remotely, something that helps while training full time. 

Down time is limited but she says she enjoys spending time with Eric and her dog Cooper. Listening to music is another relaxing pastime with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty remaining a favourite. With the Toronto Waterfront Marathon rapidly approaching she is confident she will perform at her best on the big occasion. 

“Training is going really well,” Bookmyer declares. “I had a little setback in the spring. I tore my plantar fasciitis but that’s fully healed. My mileage has gone to 115 to 120 miles (185km – 193km) a week which is higher than I have been before; paces are good, I am feeling strong. I am excited for what that means.”  


American Emily Durgin To Run TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon 

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by Paul Gains 

TORONTO, ON (September 5, 2023) – Despite some impressive podium finishes at the American national championships on roads and cross country, Emily Durgin has yet to record a marathon time. It’s a situation she intends to rectify at the 2023 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 15th. 

“I definitely think I am capable of running closer to 2:20 than 2:29,” she says of her target in Toronto. “But with that being said the biggest thing about the marathon is learning how to race it and get through the whole thing.” 

The 29-year-old from Portland, Maine has earned bronze medals at the 2023 USATF cross country championships, the 2023 USATF 20km championships, the 2022 USATF 10 mile championships and a silver at the USATF 15km championships. Most impressive though is her half marathon personal best of 67:54 which got her 6th place at the 2022 Houston Half Marathon.  

It is this credential which she believes is indication that her ambitious aim to run in the low 2:20’s is possible. It is a performance that has also qualified her for the 2024 USATF Olympic marathon trials. However, a solid race at Toronto Waterfront, a World Athletics Elite Label Race, would give her more confidence in those trials. 

Last November she made her marathon debut in New York but was gutted when she had to drop out at 30km. 

“Unfortunately, it was a super-hot day and that probably didn’t play in my favour,” she explains. “But there were a lot of other factors that went into it. Honestly, the entire buildup, it was in my head. I put way more pressure on it for what reason I don’t know. You learn a lot when you do your first buildup.” 

Although she is from the East coast of the US and attended the University of Connecticut – graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism – she moved to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2018. 

“I love Arizona as a whole,” she admits. “Obviously Flagstaff is higher elevation (2,130m) which is why I like to live up here but in the winter months it’s easy to drop down to Phoenix or Sedona. Last winter we had a ton of snow so for us it is really easy to get out of the weather if we have to. 

“There is such a big running community here so we have that aspect of it. I will say that sometimes it is tough because, when you are up here, there is that mentality of training (mode) for me that’s why I tend to try to get out of Flagstaff when I am not in a big cycle. Sometimes when I am here it’s hard to break up like ‘oh this is fun time’ versus training time. That’s why it’s nice to have Phoenix close by.” 

While she and her boyfriend live in Flagstaff she is coached by San Diego based Terrence Mahon and has a contract with Adidas that allows her to train full time. It wasn’t always the case.  

Fresh out of college she moved to Boston to train under coach Mark Coogan but without a shoe contract she had to make ends meet in one of the most expensive American cities. For a year and half she worked as a nanny while training. 

Clearly, she loves being in Arizona and while Flagstaff is quickly becoming a desirable and therefore an expensive place to live, she enjoys the amenities close by such as the restaurants and movie theatres. The Sunday farmer’s market is also a frequent destination. 

“When ‘Barbie’ came out we went and saw ‘Barbie’. That was great,” she says laughing. “You have everything you need here. It has really grown but ‘Flag’ is turning into what Boulder (Colorado) is”.  

“After our long runs on Sunday we try to end up at the market and if we are not getting produce there they always have great breakfast stuff. So we will go and get avocado toast and those kind of goodies. It starts early spring and goes through the fall. It’s a lot of fun.” 

Durgin trains alone most of the time although she is able to meet up with any number of professional runners who also make Flagstaff their home. All this is helpful as she plots a successful marathon performance at Toronto Waterfront. Training is ramping up. 

“It’s going well. I am doing a different approach to this marathon. I have been travelling so I was doing a lot of work outside of altitude which was nice for the beginning of my build,” she reports. 

“My goal in Toronto is to see what the lead runners are doing. As long as they are not going out at 2:17 pace I should be able to stick my nose in it and compete. Hopefully that will help me to a fast time.” 

Along with Molly Bookmyer and Molly Grabill, the American women will be well represented at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  And, since the event is again a World Athletics Elite Label race it is again attracting a contingent from East Africa who will surely make the race especially competitive. That’s something that thrills Durgin. 



Ethiopia’s Waganesh Mekasha To Run TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon  

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by Paul Gains  

TORONTO, ON (August 15, 2023) – Ethiopian women have featured prominently at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon winning eight of the past fifteen editions of this World Athletics Elite Label race. If Waganesh Mekasha has her way this dominance will continue. 

The 31-year-old mother of two brings extraordinary credentials to this year’s event on October 15th as well as some useful ‘intel’.

“I watched the Toronto [Waterfront] marathon many times on television and Yihunilign Adane, who won the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, told me more about it,” she reveals. The two not only share a manager – Britain’s Malcolm Anderson of Moyo Sports – but each won their respective divisions in the 2023 Ottawa Marathon.  

On that day Waganesh ran alone for most of the second half save for the assistance of celebrity pacemaker, Canadian marathon record holder Cam Levins, who graciously led her to a winning time of 2:24:48 under hot and muggy conditions.  

“I didn’t know (Levins) but my sub agent had told me after the race that he even ran the 10k race on Saturday,” she explains. “What a nice guy he is!” 

Asked if Levins, who used the pacesetting task as a long training run following his second place finish in the Canadian 10km championship, did a good job she responds with grace. 

“He did an amazing job until he dropped out. He was not only pacing me but motivating us all the way to 35km,” she remembers. 

Ironically, Waganesh nearly didn’t make it to the start line in the nation’s capital. Despite getting her visa well in advance of the race she was prevented from boarding her flight to Canada by airline officials.  

“Oh, yes that was frustrating,” she recalls. “I was shocked when the boarding person told me that I cannot fly to Canada. But many thanks to the race organizers and to my management I made it at last. But I stayed eight hours in Frankfurt airport. I hope that will not happen again.” 

Fifteen hours in the air followed by eight stuck in an airport terminal would unsettle most athletes but Waganesh has proven resilient time and time again. Although she ran extremely well at Ottawa, also a World Athletics Elite Label race, she can point to a credible 5th place finish at the 2022 Chicago Marathon in 2:23:41 as another career highlight.  

Chicago is one of only six World Athletics Major marathons and a place in the elite section is highly coveted.  A top five finish is, therefore, an extraordinary achievement.  

Waganesh has run faster than both of her aforementioned appearances in Ottawa and Chicago.  Her personal best is 2:22:45 which she recorded at the 2019 Dubai Marathon. She would like to go faster on Toronto’s course where the course record is 2:22:16 held by Kenya’s Magdalyne Masai from 2019. 

“My training is going very well. I am so excited to be back to Canada,” she says knowing she has a couple of months of intense work to complete before her journey to Canada. “If the conditions are good, and we have a good pacemaker, I will break the course record and win the race.” 

That’s a bold prediction. The record is a very good one. But her confidence comes from training under the guidance of famed coach Getamesay Molla alongside other great Ethiopian marathoners such as Yeshi Kalayu who has a personal best of 2:21:17, Azmera Gebru (2:20:48 PB) and Tigist Ambaychew (2:18:03 in Berlin 2022).  Their training is done outside Addis in the dusty hills of Sendafa and Sululta at 2750m altitude. 

Although she is a devoted mother and her children are still quite young at 7 and 4 years of age she has ambitions left to fulfill in the sport over the next few years.  

Several times she wore the Ethiopian vest as a junior winning a bronze medal in the 2011 African Under-20 Championships over 3,000m and finishing 4th at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Arena, Spain the same year.  

The Ethiopian junior team earned the team gold medal that day.  Notably, she finished just six seconds behind the champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya who has since gone on to become a twice crowned Olympic 1,500m champion.  

“Of course, I want to represent my country in the Olympics in the marathon,” Waganesh reveals. “But it is very, very competitive in Ethiopia.” 

Confident, ambitious and extremely talented, Waganesh might well contend for a place on Ethiopia’s Olympic team. A victory in Toronto would impress selectors. And the $20,000 first place prize money it must be said would be welcome in her household.  


Dayna Pidhoresky Seeking Second Canadian Marathon Championship in Toronto  

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by Paul Gains  

TORONTO, ON (August 10, 2023) – Elite marathoners have many options to chase fast times each fall. Dayna Pidhoresky has chosen the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 15th where she will seek her second Canadian Championship gold medal in four years. 

The 36-year-old Vancouver resident was the first Canadian finisher at this event in 2019, crossing the line in a personal best 2:29:03 and was rewarded with an automatic position on Canada’s Tokyo Olympics bound team.  

Although this year’s edition of Toronto Waterfront Marathon is not an Olympic Trials it is, for the fifth consecutive year, the National Championships – and it has a World Athletics Elite Label. A stellar cast is therefore guaranteed.  

“I think for me it’s helpful that it’s familiar. The travel is familiar, the course is familiar, so it sort of takes the guess work out of that part,” she explains. “If you are doing an overseas fall marathon that can be part of that stress which is from just not knowing what to expect.  

“In this case Toronto is a race I have lined up for many times in the past. And also, it’s not a slow course; I know I can run fast there. I have run fast before. I do hope to run faster than I have before.” 

Originally from Tecumseh, a town near Windsor, Ontario she and her husband Josh Seifarth have been living in Vancouver for ten years now. Although she has raced many times in the U.S. and represented Canada at the 2017 World Championships as well as at the Tokyo Olympics, domestic races have been a large part of her curriculum vitae. Indeed, she won both the 2022 and 2023 Vancouver Marathons, the latter in 2:34:27.  

Pidhoresky realises that winning a Canadian title earns an additional 45 World Athletics Ranking points on top of points awarded for a finishing time. Those extra points could be worth more than four minutes to her. In other words, if she equals her personal best in Toronto and wins the Canadian title she would earn 1187 WA points – the same as if she had run 2:24:35 at another race. 

That would put her in contention for a spot on Canada’s team for next year’s Paris Olympics. It would mean everything if she were successful. 

“Yeah, absolutely. I feel that is one of the reasons I am working so hard,” she says. “It’s really to try and get on another Olympic team. I feel I have unfinished business at the Olympics. It’s not about placing it’s about leaving there feeling I was able to do my best on the day.” 

On her flight to Tokyo for the Olympic Games two years ago she and Josh were seated near someone who tested positive for Covid. That resulted in an enforced confinement inside their Gifu hotel room for several days during which they were not allowed to leave the room. She endured a further isolation in Sapporo – not ideal preparation for the biggest race of her life. 

Team officials brought her a stationary bicycle intended to replace her running. Already nursing a tendon injury she was a shadow of herself when it came time to run the Olympic marathon in Sapporo. She struggled home in 73rd place. The memories are bitter. A good race in Toronto would go a long way to reducing the disappointment of two years ago. 

Recently, she began her buildup towards Toronto and in contrast to previous years she is in good health.  

“So far it is going well. We are doing a twelve week build so we have just begun,” Pidhoresky reveals.  “The first week of the build I ran 161km. For us it’s about week after week of solid mileage so if we can have several weeks in a row at 180km and, I can keep grinding through that kind of training, it really works well for me.” 

Most of her training is done alone with Seifarth accompanying her on the long 38-40km runs on a bicycle. He carries drinks for her so that they don’t need to put out tables during training. A mid-week interval or fartlek session is done with some of the other athletes he coaches.

Surprisingly the subject of Toronto’s prize money doesn’t come up in conversation. There is $130,000 prize money available with the winners each receiving $20,000. Included in this purse is $8,000 for the male and female Canadian champions as well as a share of the overall purse should they finish in the top 8 overall.  It’s only when the subject is raised that she comments. 

“I did go into this year thinking I didn’t want to be chasing prize money because I am really focused on running as fast as I can,” she allows, “and sometimes that means not worrying about making money.  

“Last year I was focused on trying to win money and this year I just need to run as fast as I can. Maybe that means going to races where there is no way I can make money and instead I am losing money to run a fast time. I think that it would be nice to come home with a little cheque though.” 

A year and a half ago the couple bought a condominium in Vancouver close to ideal training terrain at the University of British Columbia and Pacific Spirit Park. Seifarth started an automotive software company called Visifii working out of a home office. Pidhoresky contributes a few hours a week between training, physiotherapy, massage therapy and strength training sessions. And she has other interests which she finds soothing. 

“Sometimes I bake. I do enjoy baking these days,” she says laughing. “I have a friend who lives in the building right besides ours and we will bake.  Then our husbands will eat 95% of what we bake. So it’s sort of perfect.” 

Life is good for Pidhoresky and she hopes that a stellar performance in Toronto will seal a place on Canada’s team for next year’s Olympics in Paris. Then it will be redemption time. 


Tristan Woodfine Eyes Paris Berth at TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon  

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by Paul Gains 

 TORONTO, ON (August 3, 2023) – Tristan Woodfine’s pursuit of an Olympic Games berth resumes October 15th at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 

The event is once again a World Athletics Elite Label race and will also serve as the 2023 Canadian marathon championship. This presents the 30 year old native of Cobden, Ontario with a splendid opportunity to earn enough valuable world ranking points to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.  

This is his second attempt at becoming a Canadian Olympian.  

In 2020 he ran a personal best of 2:10:51 at the London Marathon – well under the 2020 Olympic qualifying standard – and looked to have secured his place in the Canadian team bound for the Tokyo Games. But then Vancouver’s Ben Preisner ran 34 seconds faster to bump him from the third position. 

Despite an appeal he remained at home.  

For the past year he has been coached by Reid Coolsaet, himself a two time Canadian Olympic marathoner (2012 and 2016). The pair went about choosing Toronto for his Olympic attempt methodically. 

“It minimizes travel so I don’t have to worry about jet lag,” Woodfine explains. “Second, the Canada Running Series puts on a great series. They take care of the elites well and it’s well run. So that limits the unknown stress of doing a foreign race where you don’t know how things will go. I have complete trust in (race director) Alan (Brookes) and his team.” 

The 2024 Olympic automatic qualifying standard is 2:08:10, a time which has been bettered by only one Canadian in history, Cam Levins.  So the prospect of earning valuable points, which come with winning a national championships, on top of a fast time, was too much to resist. 

Coolsaet pointed out that winning a national championship is worth an additional 45 points, which on the World Athletics scoring tables, is equivalent to running 2 minutes 30 seconds faster. In other words, if Woodfine were to run a personal best and win in Toronto it would be like running 2:08:00 in a World Marathon Major like Berlin. 

“You can hit Olympic qualifying standard,” Woodfine continues, “but if you have to get through on points there are extra points available because it is the Canadian championships. So for those reasons it made sense. 

“We were trying to figure out how to maximize the points. You want to maximize time and you want to maximize points and you try and find the balance. If you maximize the points but run too slow then it doesn’t matter. It felt like Toronto was the best of both worlds.” 

Woodfine ran the 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon finishing 13th in 2:13:16 but since then has really gone from strength to strength.  

A year ago he won the TCS Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in a personal best of 62:45. The race is run simultaneously with the marathon and since the emphasis is on the classic marathon distance there are some restrictions. 

“Alan has strict policy you (half marathoners) can’t go ahead of the marathoners because of TV coverage and all that,” he reveals. “So I felt in that half I could have gone faster.  I was thinking ‘this is actually too easy for a half,’ but obviously I couldn’t go and had to wait for the last kilometre. 

“At the same time I ran my 2:10:51 (in London) when my personal best in the half marathon was 63:30. I tend to do better the longer the distance gets. I don’t necessarily need a fast half marathon PB to run a good marathon. It’s nice to have the faster half marathon PB but mentally it doesn’t affect me quite as much.” 

Woodfine has had some impressive races over shorter distances already this year with a 10km personal best of 29:06. That came at the chaotic Valencia 10km where many of the elite racers collided at the start and fell to the ground. Although he wasn’t directly affected he was slow off the line in an attempt to avoid the mayhem. A sub 29 clocking was in his grasp that day. 

He won the Under Armour Toronto Waterfront 10km in 29:12 on June 17th running alone from 3 kilometres onward. All this has him in a positive mood as he begins his twelve week marathon buildup. 

“If the weather cooperates Toronto is a pretty fast course,” he says. “You can still run fast if you don’t hit some horrendous weather days. I think it’s the best blend of both worlds.” 

Not once during a telephone interview does Woodfine mention the $8,000 winner’s purse allocated for the Canadian champion, an amount that would surely come in handy for he and his wife Madeline in their home near Eganville, Ontario.  

Although he graduated from the Ontario College of Health and Technology he has put his career as a paramedic on hold to continue running. A three month clinical placement involving long exhausting shifts was enough to convince him that he could not combine serious running with that vocation. To make ends meet he has an online coaching service. 

“For right now it’s fine,” he says of his income. “In the future, looking at having kids, you know certainly that means you have to make more money supporting another human being. Down the road I will have to look at another career but right now it’s fine for the lifestyle I am currently living.” 

Woodfine will stand on the Toronto start line with high expectations but knowing he is chasing an Olympic dream that very few realize. 

“It would be great (to be Canadian champion),” he acknowledges. “I think I have won just one Canadian championship – the 2019 Canadian Half Marathon – so adding the marathon to that would be awesome. 

“Everything is just focused on the 2024 Olympic cycle and doing everything I can to maximize performance over the next year basically. That’s my priority – I haven’t thought too much beyond the next summer.” 



2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon Race Report

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Records were not threatened today at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon despite fast splits in the first 25km. But the racing was outstanding.

Once again world class fields were assembled for this World Athletics Elite Label race which also doubled as the Canadian marathon championships. The pacemakers for the elite men’s race took a pack of seven through the halfway point in an ambitious 62:27 and 30km in 1:29:40 and the Canadian All Comers’ record of 2:05:00 was still possible.

Once the pacers retired Kenya’s Felix Kandie assumed the lead and opened up a gap which split up the contenders into a single file procession. Over the final ten kilometres Yihunilign Adane ate up the gap and coasted to victory in 2:07:18. This was the second victory this year for the 26 year old Ethiopian as he also won Barcelona last April.

Kandie also submitted to the closing attack of his countryman Kiprono Kipkemoi (2:08:24) finishing 20 seconds later in third place.

“I knew I would catch him in the latter stages,” Yihunilign said afterwards. He was less pleased about the street car tracks and some potholes along one stretch. “I am happy I won but the roadway was a not as good as I expected I could have done better. When there was about 4km left I decided then to run the pace that I could make until the end.”

Kipkemoi would later explain he had tied his shoes too tight and twice had to stop during the race to repair the damage.

“I tied them too tight,” he revealed while rubbing his calves. “And then I used a lot of energy and my leg was paralysed. The course was good but it was a little windy. But the course is flat and good.”

Once again the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon served as the Canadian marathon championships and defending men’s champion, Trevor Hofbauer fought off a side stitch and the relentless pursuit of Rory Linkletter to finish 5th overall in 2:11:00. It was his third Canadian title. Linkletter came home for the silver medal in 2:13:32. Born in Calgary he lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife and infant son who were in attendance at the finish.

The ‘running vet’ Lee Wesselius ran 2:16:51 to claim the bronze medal.

The women’s elite race was expected to be a battle between defending champion and record holder (2:22:16 Magdalyne Masai of Kenya and the Ethiopian woman whose All Comers record she had beaten by one second, Gelete Burka).

Burka had set her standard in Ottawa and was scheduled to race there again last May. But though she received a Canadian visa, her passport was not returned in time to travel. Consequently, she was highly motivated for this competition.

Like Kandie in the men’s race, Gelete took charge with about 10 kilometres remaining and looked as if the first place prize money of $25,000 was hers for the taking. The early pace, however, had taken its toll on the women’s field too. A pair of Kenyans, Antonina Kwambai and Ruth Chebitok went past her to fill the top two places in 2:23:20 and 2:23:58. The Ethiopian finished in 2:24:31. All three could hardly stand once they crossed the line.

“I passed her (Gelete) at 37km,” said the winner of her Ethiopian rival. “She was tiring. This is my first time here in Toronto. It was amazing for me. I am really excited and really happy.” She planned to go sightseeing before her Monday evening departure.

Gelete Burka was happy that she was able to finish. Although the $25,000 first place prize money evaded her, she will collect $10,000 for third.

“I was looking for the win, but I had a problem,” she said moments after exchanging high fives with Magdalyne Masai who had faded to 5th. “After 26km I was feeling my back and I was having a problem. Then I felt it in my hamstring so I could not push it anymore. I just controlled myself to finish in position three.”

Malindi Elmore won the Canadian title in 2:25:14. That was not far off her former Canadian record (2:24:50) set in Houston back in January of 2020. Most significantly she placed 4th overall ahead of Masai and Tseginesh Mekonnin of Ethiopia. It was another bold performance for the woman who finished a superb 9th in the 2021 Olympic marathon.

“That was the goal today,” Elmore said of her Canadian title. “That’s why I came here; I love winning Canadian Championships. It means a lot to me to win them and add that to my resume. It was so great having my family along the course. It made me smile inside every time I went by them.”

The Canadian Championship prize money earned her $8,000 and she also collects $5,000 for her overall fourth place finish.

Defending Canadian champion Dayna Pidhoresky finished second in the Canadian Championship race and seventh place overall. Her time was a commendable 2:30:58, her second best performance ever. Sasha Gollish claimed the bronze in a personal best of 2:31:40.

“It was wonderful to return to in-person racing and with a new sponsor TCS,” said race director Alan Brookes. “The athletes made it an exciting day. And with the attention on records, we often forget about racing. Who could have predicted the outcome during the last ten kilometres?”



About the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon 

One of only two World Athletics Elite Label races in Canada, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier running event and the grand finale of the Canada Running Series (CRS). Since 2017, the race has served as the Athletics Canada Canadian Marathon Championship and has doubled as the Olympic trials. During the 2021 event, participants raised over $3.08 million for 151 community charities. Using innovation and organization as guiding principles, Canada Running Series stages great experiences for runners of all levels, from Canadian Olympians to recreational and charity runners. With a mission of “building community through the sport of running,” CRS is committed to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process. 

To learn more about the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, please visit 

TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon Women’s Race Preview

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Three years ago, on the last occasion, when thousands lined up in person for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Magdalyne Masai stopped the clock at 2:22:16.  

Not only was this a new personal best for the affable Kenyan but she had also shaved one second off the Canadian All-comers’ record.  

The former mark (2:22:17) had been set by Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka in Ottawa a year earlier and, in an exciting match-up which the organizers have arranged, both athletes will be on the starting line fit and ready to battle for the $25,000 first place prize money, October 16th. 

The global pandemic put most racing on hold. But Gelete squeezed in two marathons before everything shut down winning the 2019 Paris Marathon and finishing 3rd in Chicago six months later.  

The 36-year-old, who has a best time of 2:20:45 from the 2018 Dubai Marathon, was scheduled to return to Ottawa this past spring but her passport was not returned to her in time to travel. The disappointment of completing an extended marathon buildup and then being robbed of a competitive opportunity has left this three-time Olympian desperately starved for a race. Organizers hope her appetite is satiated in Toronto. 

Masai herself has not raced since winning the 2019 Toronto Waterfront. She and her husband, New Zealand international Jake Robertson, became parents of a baby boy, Jake Jr., in July 2021. Prior to his birth they spent several months in Mount Maunganui just outside Auckland. She has maintained fitness throughout but is anxious to test herself once more on the roads. 

While the focus has understandably been on these two record-setters it is easy to forget that both Ruth Chebitok of Kenya (2:21:03) and Ethiopia’s Bedatu Hirpa (2:21:32) have also run faster than the Toronto course record and come prepared to challenge for the top rung of the podium.  

This will not be Chebitok’s first time in Toronto. In 2018 she finished 3rd in 2:23:29 and was 6th in 2019 (2:24:13).  That experience could come in handy as she navigates her way along the streets of Toronto. Her personal best came in finishing 2nd in Vienna on April 24th of this year –  one place ahead of Gelete Burka. 

Hirpa, just 23 years old, was 3rd in the 2020 Dubai Marathon (2:21:55) while her personal best of 2:21:32 came in 2018 when she was 3rd in Frankfurt.  Not bad for the former world youth 1,500m champion. 

Canadian fortunes rest on the shoulders of 42-year-old Malindi Elmore whose 9th place finish in the 2021 Olympics was the best by a Canadian woman since Sylvia Ruegger’s 8th in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon. That was all the way back in 1984. 

 After seeing her Canadian record (2:24:50) obliterated recently, Elmore will no doubt see Toronto Waterfront as the chance to regain the standard. Indeed, Natasha Wodak’s 2:23:12 in Berlin must be a prime motivator for a woman enjoying a second running career. Elmore, after all, ran the 1,500m for Canada at the 2004 Olympics.  

The pace in Toronto is likely to be more comfortable and more conducive for a 2:22 finish than what the Berlin front runners demanded. She proved in Sapporo that she can run with the world’s best. Now is her chance to go for broke. 

While Elmore would have to suffer an ‘off day’ to miss the top spot in the Canadian Championships which are held concurrently, Dayna Pidhoresky, the 2019 Canadian champion, will be watching her closely in case of signs of weakness.  



About the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon 

One of only two World Athletics Elite Label races in Canada, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier running event and the grand finale of the Canada Running Series (CRS). Since 2017, the race has served as the Athletics Canada Canadian Marathon Championship and has doubled as the Olympic trials. During the 2021 event, participants raised over $3.08 million for 151 community charities. Using innovation and organization as guiding principles, Canada Running Series stages great experiences for runners of all levels, from Canadian Olympians to recreational and charity runners. With a mission of “building community through the sport of running,” CRS is committed to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process. 

To learn more about the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, please visit 

Media Contact  

Kate Van Buskirk, Marketing and Communications Coordinator 

TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon Men’s Race Preview

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By: Paul Gains 

 Once again, the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon will come down to an East African bust-up with Ethiopians Yihunilign Adane and Kebede Wami tackling a strong Kenyan squad led by Barselius Kipyego, Felix Kandie and Felix Kibitok. 

The Kenyan presence would have been even stronger were it not for the late withdrawal through injury of the man who set the Canadian All-comers record of 2:05:00 here in 2019, Philemon Rono. 

As it is, Kipyego’s focus is acutely set on that record, especially since his personal best is 2:04:48, a performance recorded at the 2021 Paris Marathon. Like many of his Kenyan compatriots, he has sacrificed time with his family by living in his ‘2Running Club’ training camp seven days a week in preparation for Toronto. While most athletes return home on weekends, Kipyego has gone that extra step. 

With a personal best of 2:06:03, Felix Kandie returns to Toronto after a 3rd place finish in the 2018 edition of the race. A seasoned veteran (now 35) he has proved his mettle by finishing 4th in Boston and 5th in Berlin in 2019 – both ‘Abbott World Marathon Majors’. Watching the 2019 Toronto livestream inspired him to think about breaking the course record if his fellow elite are up for the challenge. 

Earlier this year Kibitok finished 5th in the Barcelona Marathon running a personal best of 2:06:28. Having run under one hour for the half marathon on three occasions, including 59:33 in January this year, he is starting to realize his marathon potential.  

The Ethiopian pair, both 26 years of age, will line up hoping to end the Kenyan dominance of this race. The last time an Ethiopian emerged the victor was in 2013 when Derissa Chimsa ran 2:07:05. At the time, this was a Canadian All-comers’ record. 

Yihunilign Adane will be encouraged that his training partner, Leul Gebrsilase, finished 2nd in the recent London Marathon. With his personal best of 2:05:53 – a new Barcelona course record – he knows he can mix it up with the mighty Kenyans on the quick Toronto Waterfront course. He is hungry to explore his massive potential at the distance. 

The other Ethiopian who bears watching, Kebede Wami, was 3rd in Barcelona this past May – just ten seconds behind Yihunilign, recording a personal best of 2:06:03, and also appears on an upward trajectory. In 2021 he was 6th in Rotterdam (2:06:27) and 5th in Sienna, Italy (2:06:32) displaying great consistency in his last three marathon starts. A member of the Dutch based NN Running Team, he trains with coach Tessema Abshero making remarkable progress since taking up marathon running in 2020. 

Word spread across both Ethiopia and Kenya in 2019 when four men finished within 13 seconds of each other led by Philemon Rono’s Canadian All-comers’ record (2:05:00). The crew of world-class athletes are aware of what the streets of Toronto offer. 

The Athletics Canada National Championships are held concurrently with the World Athletics Elite Label race and the field is led by defending champion Trevor Hofbauer (2:09:51 in 2019) and Rory Linkletter who set a personal best of 2:10:24 while finishing a solid 20th place in the 2022 World Championships.  

Linkletter, born in Calgary but residing in Flagstaff, Arizona, will be looking for another personal best which could see him pick off any of the frontrunners who falter in the latter stages of the race. Meanwhile, Hofbauer who was so magnificent while finishing 7th in the 2019 edition of this race, becoming only the second Canadian to get under 2:10, struggled home in the Olympic Games. A good performance in Toronto will wipe the slate clean. 

Canadians will also be keen to see what result running veterinarian Lee Wesselius can muster on the day. He ran a personal best (2:16:41) to finish 2nd at the 2021 Indianapolis Marathon. Earlier this year he claimed the bronze medal at the NACAC Half Marathon Championships.  His day-to-day duties working with large animals in a rural county can sometimes be an obstacle most of his peers do not encounter. Nonetheless, he continues to improve. 


About the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon 

One of only two World Athletics Elite Label races in Canada, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier running event and the grand finale of the Canada Running Series (CRS). Since 2017, the race has served as the Athletics Canada Canadian Marathon Championship and has doubled as the Olympic trials. During the 2021 event, participants raised over $3.08 million for 151 community charities. Using innovation and organization as guiding principles, Canada Running Series stages great experiences for runners of all levels, from Canadian Olympians to recreational and charity runners. With a mission of “building community through the sport of running,” CRS is committed to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process. 

To learn more about the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, please visit 

Media Contact  

Kate Van Buskirk, Marketing and Communications Coordinator   

A Confident Felix Kandie Returns to TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon

By | Athletes, Canadian Athlete Announcements | No Comments

By: Paul Gains

A podium finish on his last visit to Toronto left such an impression on Felix Kandie that he eagerly accepted an invitation to return to the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th. 

The Kenyan star finished third at the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon in a time of 2:08:30, though he can point to a personal best of 2:06:03. Toronto Tourism would do well to hire the now 35-year-old to promote Canada’s biggest city as his review is simply glowing. 

“Back then when I was in Toronto I felt like I was at home,” he says during a video call from his home in Iten, Kenya.  

“It was nice for me. The city is so beautiful; the people are very friendly and the organization of the Toronto (Waterfront) Marathon is awesome. The town is indeed very good for competition. All the athletes love it and the course is very good. 

“I just walked about the place we were staying. I walked to the (Eaton Centre) mall and even when I was going for morning runs, evening runs, before the race, I used the opportunity to view Toronto and see how it is. It was amazing. Along the park down towards the lake it was very nice. I am looking forward to having another experience in Toronto.” 

Most athletes prefer to limit their excursions when they travel in order to preserve valuable energy for their competition. But the well-traveled Kandie knows his limits. And his wanderlust has not affected his racing by any means.  This past April he ran 2:07:18 to finish 7th in the Seoul Marathon.  

Following his initial Toronto appearance, he went on to finish 4th in the 2019 Boston Marathon and then 5th in Berlin – two of the Abbott Marathon Majors – and so missed the remarkable 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That’s where his compatriot, Philemon Rono, set a Canadian All-comers record of 2:05:00 with three more men coming home in the next thirteen seconds. News of the exceptional times that day reverberated around the running world. 

“When they ran the race in that time it was really good news for me because it proved Toronto is a fast course,” he declares, “and secondly it assured it’s possible for everybody to run good. When they run personal bests it is something good and this inspired me to realize I have the chance to improve my personal best in Toronto because they have proven it’s a fast course.” 

Rono returns to Toronto joining fellow Kenyan Barselius Kipyego and Ethiopia’s Yihunilign Adane as favourites, so the field is worthy of the World Athletics Elite Label designation it has earned. While the other Kenyans belong to groups that train together Monday to Friday at special training camps, Kandie stays at home in Iten. He and his wife Millicent have started a family. 

“Yeah I have a family,” he says with a smile. “After the Toronto [Waterfront] Marathon in 2018 that’s when I got married to my lovely wife and we have a son. His name is Adrian, he is around 5 months old now. 

“Right now I am staying at my home in Iten. It’s a training centre for many athletes in Kenya and even those who come from abroad. We usually meet for training sessions with all the other athletes. Currently I am training with Gilbert Kirwa and Albert Kangogo. Gilbert Kirwa I think ran there [Toronto] in 2015 and was in the second position.” 

Kandie reports his training is going according to plan and his hopes for a personal best remain intact. 

“I think I started my training early enough that I will be able do all the necessary sessions in order for me to perform well in Toronto,” he concludes. “I have completed about 95% of my training and now am finalizing the last part. I am looking for a fantastic result in Toronto.” 

Like many professional runners, Kandie is intent on earning money for his post athletics career. He has a farm and has made inroads into real estate, building rental properties. 

“Actually, in the future I am looking forward to [really] getting into the real estate business,” he reveals. “It is a nice investment in Kenya. Also our company does farming. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket. You have to diversify; at least two or three investments would be nice. We have to balance.” 

Once again, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon has the potential to see records broken as the elites compete for prize money. The winner will receive CAD $25,000 with a new course record worth a bonus of CAD $15,000. Kandie of course could put some of that money to good use for his family’s future but he also has more tangible objectives for the race. 

“I am looking forward to running a fantastic race and improving my personal best,” he says.  “This is my aim.  Also, to get in a good position. This will help me to improve. I want to win or, if that is not possible, to get on the podium. Above that I want to run a personal best.” 



About the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon 

One of only two World Athletics Elite Label races in Canada, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier running event and the grand finale of the Canada Running Series (CRS). Since 2017, the race has served as the Athletics Canada Canadian Marathon Championship and has doubled as the Olympic trials. During the 2021 event, participants raised over $3.08 million for 151 community charities. Using innovation and organization as guiding  

principles, Canada Running Series stages great experiences for runners of all levels, from Canadian Olympians to recreational and charity runners. With a mission of “building community through the sport of running,” CRS is committed to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process. 

To learn more about the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, please visit 

Media Contact  

Kate Van Buskirk, Marketing and Communications Coordinator