It's time to taper

With running news and my personal energy levels at an all-time low, it's time for a break


You may have noticed that a newsletter didn’t go out last week. That wasn’t on purpose. I was extraordinarily busy with work. And there wasn’t a ton of running news which, paradoxically, makes putting a newsletter together much harder. I need to do more digging, think outside the box, to put an issue together. I didn’t have the time or the energy to do it last week. So, for the first time in over 100 weeks, I didn’t.

I felt really guilty about it. But as I mined that feeling further, I hit on a hard truth: I am tired.

It’s been a long year, and I’m proud of every issue I’ve put together in this uncertain time. But I need a break. We all need one.

We all have so much on our plates right now, professionally and personally. Every normal moment is underscored with the stress of the pandemic. And after a year of this, I need something to give to get through these last few months.

So I have decided to take a break from writing a weekly newsletter. When I launched Run the North in January 2019, I didn’t know what I wanted it to be or where I was going to take it. I just knew I loved reading about running, listening to podcasts about running and that I could share this. I’ve written over 100 issues. Some were straightforward news roundups, some were commentary on what was happening in the running world and some were deep dives into running history or culture.

It’s not goodbye forever, though. I’ll return to this when running news is more “normal.” I may remodel Run the North so it’s more sustainable (bi-weekly? monthly? we will see!) The Olympics are more than likely happening so running news will be back sooner rather than later. And when it is, I’ll be in your inbox again!

So thank you for reading, and I’ll see you soon.


Erin @ Run the North

Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier meet gave runners a chance to chase Olympic standards


There was a meet in Texas that served as a chance for runners to go after the Olympic standards in the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m. Eight Canadians took part. That meet was really it in terms of Canadian running news, as time is ticking on finding opportunities to run the Olympic standard.

Let’s get to it!

Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier meet gave runners a chance to chase Olympic standards

A two-day meet called the Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier was organized to give athletes a chance to race in a time when racing opportunities are few and far between. It was held at on Feb. 26 and 27 and was broadcast by Citius Mag on YouTube.

Friday night was dedicated to those going for the time needed to qualify for the American track & field Olympic trials and Saturday nigh featured races for those going for the Olympic standard.

You can watch Friday night’s races here and Saturday night’s races here. You can find the full results here.

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford wins 1,500m in a tactical race

A post shared by Bowerman Track Club (@bowermantc)

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford won the 1,500m, in a time of 4:10.09. Gabriela outkicked her BTC teammate Sinclaire Johnson, who finished second in 4:10.75.

It was the first time Gabriela has raced the 1,500m in a meet since she ran 3:56 at the world championships in Doha. Gabriela died her hair Bowerman Track Club red for the occasion. The broadcast caught Gabriela walking over to a trash can to puke after the race, showing the glamorous side of pro racing.

Gabriela was profiled by CBC Sports leading up to the Texas meet. She recently went to altitude to train her BTC. She’s been dealing with a mild flare of an Achilles injury and plantar fasciitis for a better part of the year, but told CBC that it’s the best it’s been in a long time.

There was one other Canadian in the 1,500m race: Jenna Westaway ran 4:18.87 to finish seventh.

The qualifying mark for the Olympics in the 1,500m is 4:04.20.

Justyn Knight wins 1,500m in impressive time, considering the humid conditions

Justyn Knight won the men’s 1,500m in 3:36.62, which was just shy of his PB of 3:36.07, which he set in 2018. According to CBC Sports reporter Doug Harrison on Twitter, Justyn is giving his $750 winnings to his brother as a birthday present.

“I felt really relaxed out there,” Justyn told Flotrack after the race. “I was hoping to run fast enough here that they’d let me into some Diamond Leagues.”

Justyn told FloTrack that this was his last race of this weird COVID indoor/outdoor season. He’s going to take it easy for few weeks before figuring out what’s next.

The Olympics qualifying mark in the 1,500m is 3:35.00.

Solid showings by Ben Flanagan, Kieran Lumb and Julie-Anne Staehli in the 5,000m

In the men’s 5,000m, Ben Flanagan ran 13:44.87 to place sixth while Kieran Lumb ran 13:57.80 to finish eighth.

Ben told CBC Sports before the race that his goal was 13:20. The Olympic standard for men in the 5,000m is 13:13.50.

Kieran was 17 seconds slower than his personal best of 13:40.51, and shared on Instagram after the race that he had a tough race.

“Tough race and tough conditions out there last night, to be honest I’m not sure exactly where or why things went wrong. 13:57 is certainly not where I want to be right now but it is what it is. Whether it’s a good race or a bad one, important to move on from it,” he wrote.

A post shared by Kieran Lumb (@kieran.m.lumb)

In the women’s 5,000, Julie-Anne Staehli ran 15:32.46 to place eighth. The time is a PB for Julie-Anne, whose previous best of 16:00.30 was set in 2019, but it was off her goal of running the Olympic standard, which she shared on Instagram before the race. In her Instagram stories, she shared that she was pleased with the PB but knows she “has more” in her.

The Olympics qualifying time for women for the 5,000m is 15:10.

Rory Linkletter and Lanni Marchant struggle in the 10,000m

A post shared by Rory Linkletter (@rory_linkletter)

In the men’s 10,000, Rory Linkletter ran 30:24.26 to finish sixth. 12 men started the race, but seven dropped out. Of the six runners to finish the race, Rory was last.

“Sharing the ugly stuff here. 12 people towed the line, 6 finished... I was number 6. It stings to have the ole’ DFL & 30:24 next to my name,” Rory wrote on Instagram after the race. “I couldn’t drop out... No excuses, just time to get back to work and show up better next time.”

The Olympic qualifying time for men in the 10,000m is 27:28.00.

Lanni Marchant started the women’s 10,000 but was one of six runners to drop out. The race was won by Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who set the German national record by crossing the line in 31:01.71. It was Lanni’s first competitive 10,000m since she ran the 10,000m at the Rio Olympics.

Lanni’s spent the past few years struggling with injuries and underwent multiple surgeries, but had recently returned to racing. She’s run a few solid half-marathons during the pandemic, running 1:13:19 at the Las Vegas Gold Half Marathon in January and 1:14:67 the Michigan Pro Half Marathon in October.

The Olympic qualifying time for women in the 10,000m is 31:25.00.

The Texas Trials were important because finding Olympic qualifying chances right now is really tough

The pandemic has cancelled races far and wide, and finding opportunities to even attempt to secure Olympic qualifying times has been tough, especially for Canadians who live and train in Canada, as our lockdown rules have been a lot more stringent than those in the U.S. I wrote a little bit about this in last week’s issue, and Canadian Press’s Lori Ewing did a bigger piece about this problem for TSN this week.

According to Ewing, Athletics Canada wants to send a team of 60 athletes to the Olympics, but only 24 have achieved the standard in their respective event. Athletes can secure Olympic berths with their world rankings (the standards for several of the running events are really, really tough), but the only way to achieve either is to actually race. And any Canadian who decides to travel internationally to compete then must deal with the mandatory two-week quarantine upon returning, which can significantly impact training.

From TSN:

"It's just so unfair for Canadians at the moment, it's terrible," said Simon Nathan, Athletics Canada's high performance director. "The worry is: if I don't travel, then I can't qualify. If I do travel, there are places that are more risky (for the pandemic) than Canada. And then I come home and have to sit on my bum, literally not allowed to do anything for two weeks while my rivals are still training, they're still competing.

"So it's stress coming from every direction."

Athletics Canada is lobbying the IOC to have a more forgiving pathway to compete at the Olympics, considering how the pandemic has impacted the ability to compete.

The Canadian track & field national championships are June 24-27. It’s no longer a requirement to compete in them to be named to the Olympic team (that was previously the case for all Olympic and world teams) so that may be the best chance for athletes living in Canada to secure their Olympic spot.

Strides: Other stuff to care about

🎧 Sprinter Jared Connaughton was on the Inner Olympian podcast with Segun Makinde. Jared represented Canada at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He’s probably best known, though, for what was one of the worst moments of his athletic career: he cost Canada the bronze medal in the 4x100m relay at the 2021 Games because of a lane violation. In this conversation, Jared talks about growing up on Prince Edward Island, finding running, how he found the drive to pursue his running dreams and turning to coaching when his own competitive career was done. Jared now coaches track and cross-country at Fort Worth Country Day School in Texas.

👟 Marathoner Malindi Elmore and middle-distance runner Nate Brannen spoke to Canadian Running about the importance of longevity and how one ca manage their career so that they will be competitive for a long time.

🗺 Triathlete John Yip is passing the time during the pandemic by trying to run every street in Toronto. BlogTO spoke to him about why he’s doing this and what it’s been like.

🌟 I enjoyed this profile of Ryan and Sara Hall in Runner’s World and how their marriage and careers have evolved together and how they are working together to pursue Sara’s goal of breaking the American marathon record.

That’s it for this week! You can subscribe to Run the North here:

Run the North comes out on Monday mornings.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’re staying safe.

Keep on running and I’ll see you next week.

Without any races in Canada, Canadian elites looking to U.S. for racing opportunities


It’s been really quiet on the Canadian running front, as people are hunkered down during the pandemic’s second wave. Some athletes are travelling to the States to find racing opportunities. Eliud Kipchoge announced this next race. And as always, there’s a smattering of news and links and podcasts to wrap this issue up.

Let’s get to it!

Without any races in Canada, Canadian elites looking to U.S. for racing opportunities

There hasn’t been many racing opportunities in Canada, forcing several athletes living in Canada to make a tough choice: sit out on racing opportunities, which could compromise their chances to make the Olympics, or risking travel to the United States to compete in races being set up there.

A post shared by Lindsey Butterworth (@lindseybutterworth)

Doug Harrison at CBC Sports spoke to some athletes, including Mariah Kelly and Lindsey Butterworth, about making this choice. Both Kelly and Butterworth competed at the New Balance Grand Prix in New York, and Kelly also added some West Coast races to her overall trip.

From Harrison:

Butterworth was also anxious about coronavirus and travelling as she considered race options in Arkansas and Texas before deciding to compete at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix last Saturday in Staten Island, New York.

"We struggled with this decision for quite a while as we know the consequences and challenging environment of living [in a global pandemic]," Butterworth's coach, Brit Townsend, said over the phone.

"It can get a bit frustrating and stale if you're not [racing]. She wanted this so bad and I felt she needed it since there are so few opportunities available at this level."

Athletes are not exempt from the federal two-week quarantine from international travel upon returning to Canada. Mariah shared her feelings about quarantine life in Instagram.

A post shared by Mariah K. Kelly (@mariah_kelly1)

Athletics Canada is currently working on creating racing opportunities in the spring and summer, but so much of it depends on where the pandemic is at, and what local restrictions look like at that time.

Eliud Kipchoge to run elite-only Hamburg marathon

Eliud Kipchoge has announced he will be running in the elite-only NN Mission Marathon in marathon on April 11. The race is being coordinated in part by his race team, NN Running Team.

A post shared by Eliud Kipchoge - EGH🇰🇪 (@kipchogeeliud)

“I am going back to the genesis of my marathon career. For me, Hamburg is where it all began. I hope to inspire many people around the world by running a great race in the streets of this wonderful city,” he wrote on Instagram.

Eliud made his marathon debut in Hamburg in 2013, he won the race.

The pressure is on Eliud because after dominating the marathon for so many years, and becoming the world record holder and the first person two break two hours at the distance, he finished a surprising eighth at the elite-only London marathon in October.

Canadian Running even went so far to say that he “needs” to win this race.

Eliud is also on the Kenyan Olympic marathon team.

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot signs with New Balance

A post shared by Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (@charlespt)

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot has announced he has signed a pro contract with New Balance.

“I can’t describe the excitement I have for joining the @newbalance family. I really do believe this is a partnership that will elevate my running (and style 😜) to the next level. Beyond grateful for this new opportunity,” he wrote on Instagram.

”It was only a logical choice after I spent (for the best) most of 2020 rebuilding, and working on my weaknesses in all spheres of the sport. This change was needed to complete the new and improved version of me.”

The 30-year-old has spent this season in Europe, working to qualify for the 1,500m and the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics. He ran the 1,500m in at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Strides: Other stuff to know about, read and listen to

🚩 If you’re looking for a virtual race this February, why not sign up for the Harry Jerome Classic Charity Run? The distance is up to you and it’s taking place the last weekend in February. All proceeds are going toward Hogan's Alley Society, which is dedicated to highlighting and preserving Black history in Vancouver. Harry Jerome is one of Canada’s most successful and iconic Black athletes of all time. I looked at his life and legacy in a past issue.

📺 NPR’s Code Switch put out a great video on IGTV about how white supremacy has influenced running culture, and why that has resulted in it being dangerous to be "running while Black” and how the conversation surrounding running safety has long centred white women:

A post shared by NPR (@npr)

🇷🇺 Russia athletes have been banned from the Olympics again, kinda. In 2021 and 2022, they will compete under the title ROC, which stands for the Russian Olympic Committee. Should an ROC athlete win gold, their anthem will not be played. In 2018, Russian competitors were known as “Olympic athletes from Russia.”

🎧 The founders of Strava, Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath, were on the NPR podcast How I Built This. They talk about how they got started, how they select and create new features and how important the virtual fitness community has become in the pandemic. I personally deleted Strava when I realized how easy it would be for someone to murder me after looking at a week’s worth of my data, but it was still interesting to learn the origin story of one of the most popular apps in running.

👟 Ann Marie Elpa at the Toronto Star looked at how run crews build community, even during this time where many of us are running alone. She specifically profiles the Air Up There Run Crew, which is a group in Hamilton dedicated to BIPOC runners:

Moe Bsat, founder of Air Up There, says the community-building element of groups like his is significant in these trying times. Bsat, who has been running for 13 years, says the group was built out of the need for accessible spaces for racialized runners and to amplify BIPOC voices in the running community.

“COVID has been an eye opener for running crews and runners. Runners were made aware of the inequities that exist in our unjust world and COVID made those inequities hard to miss ... I believe (the pandemic has) created more compassion and empathy within running groups.”

🌟 Canadian Running profiled Paralympic runner Nathan Riech, whose goal is to win gold at the 2021 Paralympic Games in the 1,500m. Reich runs in the T38 category, which is for runners with coordination impairments. He holds the world record in the event.

“I run to win,” he says. “I can see myself getting first or blowing up and getting fifth, depending on how my strategy works out. But I’d rather get fifth after having given it my all rather than finishing in second and thinking, ‘Ah, I wish I’d gone for it.'” 

🏟 The Hamilton Spectator looked back at an era when they had a local indoor track meet that drew thousands of fans. The Spectator Indoor Games were held at Copps Coliseum and had memorable moments such as hosting Ben Johnson’s first race back after his drug suspension and being stripped of Olympic gold in 1988. It was a track calendar staple and saw many Olympians come through to compete.

The event is still held (however it was cancelled because of the pandemic) but it’s now a meet primarily for elementary and high school students.

📰 Lori Ewing profiled Trevor Hofbauer for the Toronto Star. Hofbauer is the 2019 national marathon champion and is the only male athlete who was automatically qualified for the Canadian Olympic marathon team. The piece looks at how Trevor has been dealing with the pandemic, how he finds inspiration from basketball and what he’s been doing t prepare for his first Olympics.

🎧 Mariah Kelly was the latest guest on Women Run Canada. They talk about how Mariah worked her way up from a promising high school runner to one of the best runners in the country, how her perseverance has been one of her key qualities for success and how she’s been handling the pandemic.

That’s it for this week!

If you’re reading this online or it was forwarded to you, you can subscribe below:

Run the North come out on Monday mornings. Thanks for sticking with me through the ups and downs of the pandemic.

I hope you’re hanging there and taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

I’ll see you next week!

Three Canadians podium at the New Balance Grand Prix

Julie-Anne Staehli broke a national record and Justyn Knight ran a world-lead


It was the New Balance Grand Prix in New York City, the first real meet to feel like a real meet, even though watching such things is still unsettling. Three Canadians podiumed at the event, and one national record was set. I break it all down below.

I also look at the life and legacy of Barbara Howard, who is believed to be the first Black woman to have represented Canada in international sport.

Julie-Anne Staehli breaks Canadian indoor two-mile record

A post shared by Julie-Anne Staehli (@jastaehli)

Julie-Anne Staehli had the Canadian performance of the week, when she ran 9:22.66 in the two-mile at the New Balance Grand Prix in New York City.

She finished third overall, behind Americans Ellie Purrier and Emma Coburn, both who ran faster than the old American two-mile record.

Julie-Anne, who is 27, is sponsored by New Balance and is training while working as an assistant coach with Western University’s cross-country team. She can collegiately for Queen’s University.

Julie-Anne’s time is 14 seconds faster than the old record. The record was previously 9:36,79, which was held by Jessica O’Connell.

It’s not officially a “record,” though, because Athletics Canada doesn’t officially recognize or ratify the two-mile distance.

Justyn Knight runs world lead in indoor two-mile

A post shared by Justyn Knight (@justyn.knight)

Justyn Knight broke the tape in the men’s two-mile event at the New Balance Grand Prix. His time of 8:13.92 is the fastest time in the world at this event so far and was 8/10ths of a second off the record, which is held by Moh Ahmed.

Justin threw up a heart with his hands as he crossed the finish line, and joked online after maybe he would have gotten he record if he hadn’t done that:

The 24-year-old trains with the Reebok Boston Track Club, alongside fellow Canadian Ben Flanagan. He competed for Syracuse in the NCAA in his college years.

Marco Arop runs second fastest Canadian indoor 1,000m

A post shared by Marco Arop 🇸🇸🇨🇦 (@marco_arop)

Marco Arop was the third Canadian to make the podium at the New Balance Grand Prix. He placed second in the 1,000m. His time of 2:17.10 is the second fastest Canadian time at the distance, just short of the 2:16.87 record set by Nate Brannen in 2014. He came second to American Bryce Hoppel, who set a world lead and an American record of 2:16.27 to break the tape.

It was the first time Marco has ever raced this event, making his result that much more impressive. Arop, who is 22, recently ended his collegiate career at Mississippi State University to turn pro.

Remember Barbara Howard, the first Black woman to represent Canada in sport internationally

Barbara Howard was the first Black woman to represent Canada at international competition.

Barbara was born in 1920 in Vancouver.

She qualified for the 100 yard dash and team relays at the 1938 British Empire Games (these are now the Commonwealth Games), when she was 17 years old. Canada won silver in the 440-yard relay and bronze in the 660-yard relay and Barbara Howard became a media sensation because Black athletes were so uncommon.

She would never get to achieve her Olympic dreams, because the 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled because of the Second World War.

After retiring from competitive running, Barbara would go on to become a teacher who was deeply involved in her community. She was the first Black teacher hired by the Vancouver School District, where she taught for 40 years.

CBC British Columbia did a piece on Barbara’s life and legacy, in honour of Black History Month.

Barbara got more attention for her accomplishments later in her life. She was named to the B.C. Sport Hall of Fame in 2012, and there is a city plaza in Vancouver named after her. In 2015, she was named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

She died in 2017, when she was 96 years old.

The Globe and Mail did a piece about Barbara shortly after she died:

Barbara Howard's first trip away from her birthplace of Vancouver was a month-long voyage by ocean liner to Australia, where she competed for Canada at the 1938 British Empire Games.

The unheralded schoolgirl was just 17, a sprinter who surprised the sports world by running a world-class time in qualifications. She would be disappointed by her performance at the Games, finishing sixth in the marquee 100-yard dash, though she returned home with two medals from relay races. She also carried with her a stuffed doll resembling a koala, one of many gifts she received from sports-mad Australian fans.

Miss Howard, who has died at 96, spent most of her life in anonymity, her early athletic achievements forgotten as she pursued a successful but quiet career as an educator.

Athletics Canada included Barbara in a roundup Black track and field athletes to remember.

Strides: Other stuff to read, listen to and know about

🌟 CBC Sports has a series sponsored by Toyota called Breakthrough, featuring athletes sharing their big moment. Moh Ahmed is part of the series, reflecting on his 12:47 5,000m run that put him at 10th all-time in the world at the time. The interface is a little hard to follow, but there’s a video of Moh talking about his run and what lead to that performance, and there’s another video with his mom talking about their bond and what he was like growing up.

🏟 Decathlete Damian Warner shared two big announcements with the Toronto Star. First, he helped update an old hockey arena in his hometown of London to become a multi-use training facility after he needed a place to train when the pandemic began and other facilities were shut down. Second, he and his partner Jen Cotton are expecting their first child.

🎧 Jessica O’Connell was on The Inner Olympian podcast. The 2016 Olympian, who also runs the coaching business Grit, talked about what it took to fulfil her Olympic dream and how she’s handled her ups and downs, and several injuries, on her quest to return to the Games.

🇲🇽 I enjoyed this Runner’s World profile of Andrea Ramírez Limón, who is one of Mexico’s top marathoners. She finished just behind Natasha Wodak at the Marathon Project in Dec. 20.

🐱 If you’ve been following Natasha Wodak on social media or on podcasts, you will know that her beloved cat Sammy was ill the week of the Marathon Project, but held on long enough for Natasha to go race. After he died, Natasha decided to foster two cats, and well, she ended up adopting them. Natasha looks so happy to be welcoming Oliver and Elliot to her family.

🚩 The NN Running team is working on putting together an elite-only race in lieu of the Hamburg marathon on April 11, running a 10.5K loop around the city. Only four athletes are listed, but the race will feature 100 runners. If other marathon opportunities don’t crop up in North America, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple Canadians try to make the trip.

💧 I enjoyed this piece by David Roch for Trail Magazine about the power of running, and of crying while running:

So, yes, running has a tendency to turn anyone into a nihilist sometimes. The highest highs and the lowest lows are sharing a three-bedroom suite with the monotonous, in-your-own-head grind. Joy, sadness, boredom all shacked up together. Throw in some endorphin swings and hormonal shifts for good measure.

Tears of joy. Sad sobs. Bored to tears. Those are all sayings for a reason, and I think they are a part of many more running lives than is reflected in social-media posts or magazine articles. Not only is it OK to cry in and around runs, I think it might just be a sign that you’re paying attention.

💍 Long-distance runner Justin Kent and middle-distance runner Lindsay Butterworth got engaged!

🎶 Around the Bay, the oldest race in North America, has released a theme song for its 2021 virtual edition:

That’s it for this week! I hope you had a good long weekend, if you had one.

If you are reading this online or it was forwarded to you, you can subscribe here:

Run the North comes out on Monday mornings — except when Monday is a holiday, like this week.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe everyone.

Lucia Stafford & Gabriela DeBues-Stafford kick off 2021 with strong performances


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

A post shared by Lucia Stafford 🍫 (@luciastafford7)

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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Next week is Family Day in Ontario, so Run the North will be coming out on Tuesday.

See you then!

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