Track is kinda back, with groups setting up makeshift meets so athletes can have racing opportunities. Several Canadians have started strong in 2021, including Lucia Stafford, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot. I recap how those three have done so far this year. And, as always, there’s a roundup of podcasts and links to check out.
Let’s get to it!
Lucia Stafford smashes her first two races of 2021
Lucia Stafford, the younger sister of Gabriela DeBues-Stafford had two amazing runs this past week.
On Jan.29, she ran 4:05.7 in the 1,500m at the first Athletics Ontario High Performance Meet. It was a head-to-head race against Lucia’s teammate and 2019 800m national champ, Madeleine Kelly. The time is the fastest time in the world in the event, and the second fastest Canadian time ever. It is also nearly 5 seconds faster than Lucia’s previous personal best. You can watch this race on IGTV here.
The only person who has run faster? Record older, and Lucia’s older sister, Gabriela. Gabriela set the record at the Millrose Games in 2020, when she ran 4:00.80.
Then on Feb. 5, Lucia ran 2:37.73 in the indoor 1,000m at at the second Athletics Ontario High Performance Meet — just off the national record of 2:37.04, which was set by Jenna Westaway in 2019. This race featured Madeleine Kelly & Katarina Innanen alongside Lucia. It’s also available to watch on IGTV, which you can do so here.
In between these two results, Lucia and her coach Terry Radchenko were on The Shakeout podcast to discuss what it’s been like training in a pandemic, what’s next for the younger Stafford. The convo is interesting because Madeleine Kelly, who raced with Lucia on Jan. 29, is also the co-host of the Shakeout podcast.
Lucia trains at the University of Toronto, the same place her sister trained fo severa years before moving to Scotland, then relocating to Portland to train with the Bowerman Track Club.
If you want to get to know the Stafford sisters better, they were on the Women Run Canada podcast together back in April 2020.
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford makes her Bowerman racing debut, winning 3,000m in third fastest Canadian time ever
Gabriela wasn’t going to let her sister have the spotlight. On Feb. 6, making her debut for Bowerman Track Club, Gabriela ran the 3,000m at the Prickly Pear Invitational on Feb. 6.
Gabriela won in 8:38.51, in a race that featured Colleen Quigley, Karissa Schweizer, Elise Cranny and Emily Infield. You can see her killer kick in the GIF above. The time is the third fastest in Canadian history, and Gabriela’s personal best at the distance.
“Season opener, so it felt good,” she said in a BTC Instagram story. “It’s been a rough couple of years so I’m just happy to get back out there and to finish strong.”
It was Gabriela’s first race in a long and tumultuous year, one that saw her coming back to Canada from Scotland, quarantining with her entire family in her childhood home in Toronto, seeing her Grave’s disease relapse and committing to BTC and moving to Portland, only to have to spend her first few days there inside because of wildfires.
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot starting 2021 off strong
Quebec runner Charles Philibert-Thiboutot is spending his winter in Europe and has had several good races so far.
On Jan. 29 he ran 7:49.82 in the 3,000m at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meet in Karlsruhe, Germany to set the Quebec record at the distance.
On Feb. 7, he raced the 1,500m at the Dortmund Indoor Meeting in Germany, finishing in 3:40.21. It was the first time Charles has raced a 1,500m since 2018.
At the end of the month, he will be going after the 5,000m Olympic standard at a meet in Toulon, France. He hopes to qualify and run both the 1,500m and the 5,000m at the Olympics this summer.
Doug Harrison at CBC Sports profiled Charles before the weekend’s race. He’s currently training at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance in Paris and is making the most of his pandemic experience. He’s focused on stying injury-free and working on his speed so he can be competitive at the shorter distances.
If you read French, Le Presse also wrote about Charles’ strong start to 2021.
I read Running with Raven and it helped me reframe my pandemic running
Running with Raven by Laura Lee Huttenbach came out in 2017, but I just read it, and I think it’s a very apt book for the pandemic. Robert “Raven” Kraft has been running 8 miles every day on Miami Beach since 1975. People have always been welcome to join him, and after some media attention “running with Raven” became a bucket-list item for many runners and now thousands have completed the 8 mile beach run. If you complete the full 8 miles, you get a nickname.
Running with Raven is Raven’s biography. It delves into his difficult early life, how he found running, the friendships that shaped him, and his relationship with running and with Miami Beach. Because he’s been running on the beach for so long, he’s seen it undergo several transformations: from being a rough neighbourhood to a drug capital to party central with expensive condos. From having the beach nearly wash away to being revitalized and now seeing it change again through climate change.
I’m sharing this recommendation now because in this pandemic, so many days are the same. It’s hard to plan, and to look forward. But Raven and his daily run reminded me that there’s value in monotony, that there’s value to showing up every day and in being still and steady. I’ve been running the same 10K route, more or less, almost every day since the pandemic began. Running with Raven helped me see this daily practice, of running every day without training for anything, in a more positive light.
They aren’t filler runs. I am not biding my time until the pandemic is over and races are a thing again. I am showing up every day, and experiencing this small slice of the world, every day. I’ve seen the seasons change, the world move forward. I’ve run in snow and rain and wind and heat. I see the same handful of runners regularly. I’ve seen new runners, fast runners, families on walks, all getting though this pandemic the best way they know how. Every day I am grateful to be outside, to be moving and to be in nature. These runs have worth.
They are grounded my pandemic experience, just as Raven’s daily runs have grounded his entire life.
Strides: other stuff to read, listen to and know about
⛰ Gary Robbins has announced that he will not be participating in the 2021 Barkley Marathons, due to the pandemic. The race is still planned, in a limited capacity, but Robbins felt that the logistics (the border being closed, his family not being allowed to be at the race) made the effort not worth it. He made the announcement in a 12-minute YouTube video, which you can watch here.
🎧 Natasha Wodak continues her post-Marathon Project podcast tour with an appearance on the Terminal Mile.
👶🏾 Aaron Brown and his wife Preeya Milburn welcomed their son, Kingsley Nico Brown, on Jan. 26!
🎧 CBC Radio’s As It Happens spoke to British actor Eddie Izzard, who ran 32 marathons in 31 days on a treadmill to raise money for her #MakeHumanityGreatAgain campaign. She streamed the entire thing online, featuring interviews with celebrity guests a a daily comedy show. The campaign raised money for several charities, including Fareshare, Walking with the Wounded, United to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases and Covenant House New York City.
🌟 Hurdler Sage Watson thinks the Olympics could be what the world needs to lift our spirits. "The Olympics are a time when kids and people are inspired," she told CBC Sports."It's a time when the world comes together despite political, social and economic differences."
🎧 Lynn Kanuka-Williams, one of Canada’s greatest distance runners and currently Natasha Wodak’s coach, was on the Shakeout podcast. Lynn held (and still holds) several Canadian records from the mile through the 10,000m. She won bronze in the 3,000m at the 1984 Olympics. The conversation covers her running career, her turn to coaching and what she hopes for in the future of the sport.
🗓 Since February is Black History month, I wanted to revisit this 2019 piece from the Canadian Olympic Committee about 14 Black Canadian athletes who made Olympic history. The list includes John Howard, the first Black Canadian male Olympian, and Barbara Howard, the first Black Canadian female Olympian.
🎧 Jessica O’Connell was on Women Run Canada. Jess represented Canada in the 5,000m at the 2016 Olympics Games. She talked about her career, her struggles with injuries and what she’s doing to get back to the Olympics in 2021. Jess is also a coach and offers some advice about resilience.
🏊🏻♀️ Para triathlete Kamylle Frenette wrote a piece for CBC Sports about how she got involved in para sports (she was born with a club foot). She has always struggled with whether she was “disabled” enough to compete in parasports, and how she finally got rid of this doubt and embraced chasing after becoming her best self:
The problem with this debate is that evaluating my place in para sport forces me to compare myself to those that we call “normal.” What does “normal” really mean? Could I not do away with this reference point and just see myself as I am? In reality, everyone has a “little foot” of their own. Something that can only be noticed if it is compared to a “normal” reference point that doesn’t even exist.
That’s it for this week!
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