A New York City marathon recap and did you know a 13-year-old Canadian once held the world marathon record?
Geoffrey Kamworor and Joyciline Jepkosgei won NYC and a new book tells the story of Maureen Wilton.
This newsletter has a breakdown of all the excitement from New York City. If you ran, congratulations!
It also introduces you to Maureen Wilton, the Canadian running hero you’ve probably never heard of. Then we wrap with some links to read and podcasts to listen to from the Canadian running scene.
Thanks for reading! If you want to reach out — send a story idea along, send feedback or tell me if I’ve gotten something wrong — you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK, let’s get to it!
The New York City marathon was pretty great, as always
The New York City marathon is one of the greatest races in the world — possibly the best. The city comes out to celebrate and thanks to the championship-style racing, the storylines that emerge are some of the most memorable in running.
2019 will go down as another successful year: perfect weather, a record number of finishers, a breakout woman’s performance from a debut marathoner, a reminder that Eliud Kipchoge has a successor and he’s already one of the best ever and an out-of-nowhere third place finish on the men’s podium.
The New York Times has an excellent photo gallery of the day, you can check it out here.
Joyciline Jepkosgei wins NYC in her marathon debut
Joyciline Jepkosgei showed that she is ready to compete with the best in the world in the marathon. The 26-year-old Kenyan world half-marathon record holder held off four-time NYC champion Mary Keitany to break the tape.
Jepkosgei is the first woman to win in her debut at NYC since Tegla Loroupe in 1994.
Her 2:22:38 is the second fastest NYC finish time ever. The record was set in 2003, when Margaret Okayo ran 2:22:31.
Keitany placed second, finishing in 2:23:32. Keitany has run NYC nine times and has never finished off the podium. The 37-year-old Kenyan has four wins, three second place finishes and two third place finishes.
The women’s race started out pretty quick, with a large pack. Des Linden broke away early to keep the pace hot, but her lead wouldn’t last. Eventually, she would get swallowed by the eventual podium finishers.
Jepkosgei and Keitany ran together for most of the race, dropping Ruti Aga about 2/3 of the way into the race. Jepkosgei finally broke away from Keitany with about 5K left.
In the last mile, it looked like Jepkosgei was hurting hard, but she had covered enough ground that it didn’t matter. She was going to win it all.
At the press conference after the race, Jepkosgei said she was happy to run with Keitany and that she was focused on having a strong race, not on winning.
“I didn’t know I could win because of my friend Mary,” Jepkosgei said, according to the New York Times. “She has more experience in the marathon, she has won a few years here in New York. I was happy to run with her.”
Keitany was happy for her fellow Kenyan.
“I said that I’m happy with my results of today because I tried my best and the results that came up is okay for me,” she said according to Women’s Running. “I celebrate my colleague and we are happy that we take the winning back home.”
Ruti Aga, who won the Tokyo marathon earlier this year, placed third.
The top 10 women
Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya) 2:22:38
Mary Keitany (Kenya) 2:23:32
Ruti Aga (Ethiopia) 2:25:51
Nancy Kiprop (Kenya) 2:26:21
Sinead Diver (Australia) 2:26:23
Desiree Linden (U.S.A.) 2:26:47
Kellyn Taylor (U.S.A.) 2:26:52
Ellie Pashley (Australia) 2:27:07
Belaynesh Fikadu (Ethiopia) 2:27:07
Mary Ngugi (Kenya) 2:27:36
Other notable things from the women’s race
Des Linden finished in sixth and as top American, but she set the tone for the race early. At the press conference after the race, she said she figured she might as well go for it:
“It was a perfect day to take a crack at having a good one,” Linden said after the race. “Even standing on the bridge, you could feel that it was light wind and when we started, it was at our back. Walt [Drenth, her coach] always says, ‘If you can’t run fast on a day like this, you might as well go bowling.’ That’s the conditions we had. It was a good day to take a big swing.”
Sara Hall, the American who just ran a huge 2:22 PB in Berlin, then won the U.S. 10-mile championships a week later, dropped out at 30K due to stomach issues.
American Allie Kieffer dropped out at 19K. She came into the race injured and hoped to give it her best shot.
Australian runner and fifth place finisher Sinead Diver is 42 years old. Even though she hates having her age mentioned, she’s a member of the badass women masters marathoners competing at the highest level in the world, alongside Canadians Krista DuChene and Lyndsay Tessier and American Roberta Groner. Diver just ran the 10,000m at the world championships in Doha. Runner’s World wrote a great profile of Diver before NYC:
On a typical day, Diver wakes up at 6 a.m. and is out the door for her first workout by 7 a.m. Afterward, she drops her kids off at school before arriving to work at 11 a.m. In the evenings, Diver does a second, shorter run, and then eats dinner with her family, helps the kids with homework, and catches up on chores. “Then collapse, and repeat,” she said.
Speaking of Roberta Groner, she ran 2:30:12 to place 13th, which is even more impressive since she just placed sixth in the world championship marathon in Doha.
11 women ran under 2:28, which is the most ever at the NYC marathon:
Fourth place finisher Nancy Kiprop will donate her $25,000 prize money to the school she built in her Kenyan hometown. Oh, Kiprop is also 40 years old and has seven kids.
Geoffrey Kamworor wins second NYC title in three years
The men’s race started off at a fairly slow pace, resulting in a large pack sticking together for much of the race.
It only started to come apart after 20 miles, until it ended up being the top three, then the top two, then just the eventual winner Geoffrey Kamworor. Kamworor looked strong as hell when he made his move, charging to the win and directly into the arms of the GOAT Eliud Kipchoge after he broke the tape.
Kipchoge — who is Kamworor’s friend and training partner — came to New York to cheer on his friend and teammate. The presence of the world record holder and sub 2:00 marathoner was extra motivation for the 26-year-old Kenyan.
“I didn’t want to disappoint him,” Kamworor said to the New York Times. “That gave me a lot of motivation.”
It’s the second time Kamworor has won NYC. He also broke the tape in 2017. Last year, he finished third.
Albert Korir of Kenya came second. The 25-year-old should be a name known to Canadian race fans: he won the Ottawa marathon in May. His 2:08:03 finish time from Ottawa is his current personal best. Despite not having the fastest PR, Korir is a competitor. He’s run 10 marathons since 2015 and apparently has finished in the top three in every single one.
Who was that guy who came third?!
The third place finisher in the men’s marathon had a numbered bib. 443. He started at a different start than the rest of the elites (the NYC marathon has three different starts, they all merge together after the Verranzo bridge).
He has no agent and no sponsor. And he just ran a five-minute PB to finish on the podium at the world major marathon.
His name is Girma Bekele Gebre. He’s 26 years old (if this birthdate is correct). He’s won several shorter races in the northeastern US, including the 2017 Brooklyn half-marathon.
NYC isn’t his first top tier performance — he ran 2:13:46 at the Pittsburgh marathon in May to finish second. But it’s his first with international attention.
After the race, Gebre looked somewhat bewildered standing there next to two of the most decorated distance runners in the world. He has no agent, flew to New York from Ethiopia a few days before the race and stayed with a friend in the Bronx. He won $40,000.
“I started back in the second group, and just ran really fast to catch up,” he said through an interpreter. “I love running in New York. When the crowds were cheering for me, I felt really special joy.”
Gebre lived in NYC for a few months and ran with the West Side Runners Club, according to New York sports reporter Laura Albanese on Twitter.
He returned to Ethiopia earlier this year, according to the New York Times, because one of his brother’s died on the family farm.
What’s next for him? Well, he’d really like an agent.
The top 10 men
Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) 2:08:13
Albert Korir (Kenya) 2:08:36
Girma Bekele Gebre (Ethiopia) 2:08:38
Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia) 2:09:20
Shura Kitata (Ethiopia) 2:10:39
Jared Ward (U.S.A) 2:10:45
Stephen Sambu (Kenya) 2:11:11
Yoshiki Takenouchi (Japan) 2:11:18
Abdi Abdirahman (U.S.A.) 2:11:34
Connor McMillan (U.S.A) 2:12:07
Other notable things from the men’s race
Defending champion Lelisa Desisa dropped out of the race at 11K. Desisa was attempting an ambitious double — he just won the world championship marathon in tough conditions in Doha.
Even though the top four men’s times were notably slower than the top four men’s times in 2018, Jared Ward ran more than 90 seconds faster than he did last year to finish in the exact same spot: sixth overall and top American. According to Runner’s World, Ward was happy with his performance despite missing his goal of a podium finish:
“Maybe next time I’ll hang on for two miles longer,” Ward said. “Ultimately, I wanted to do something today that established myself as a different marathoner going into the Olympics than I was last time. It takes a little faith to know that when you’re not feeling good at one point in the race, you will feel good later. I’d say I was validated today.”
American Connor McMillan is only 23 years old and ran 2:12:07 to finish 10th. McMillan went to Brigham Young University with Canadian Rory Linkletter, and like Linkletter, jumped right into the marathon. Linkletter made his debut a few weeks ago, running 2:16:42 in Toronto. Runner’s World ran a profile of McMillan after the race:
It’s a decision all college runners eventually face: To join the working world after graduation or to continue chasing their sporting dream?
For Connor McMillan it was an easy choice, and at the New York City Marathon on Sunday, the 23-year-old from American Fork, Utah, was rewarded for his gamble. He took almost 12 minutes off his personal best to finish 10th, and his time of 2:12:07 brought him home less than four minutes behind race winner Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya.
The depth of McMillan’s achievement can only be appreciated by understanding its context. He does not have a shoe sponsor, he does not have a job, and since graduating from Brigham Young University in April, he has made ends meet by earning paychecks through his performances
Abdi Abdirahman broke the American men’s masters record with his 2:11:34 finish time. The record was previously held by Bernard Lagat, who ran 2:12:07 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia in July. Before Lagat, it was held by Meb Kelfezighi, who set it in 2016.
The story behind the winners’ laurel wreaths
They only got the story because the wreath maker, Jane Muhrcke, is the writer’s grandmother.
She makes them out of a laurel tree in her backyard. She isn’t paid for them. She started making them in 1972, two years after her husband, Gary Muhrcke, won the first NYC marathon.
The idea for laurel wreaths at the New York City Marathon came about during a walk along Huntington Bay. My grandparents were good friends with Fred Lebow, the founder of the race, who was trying to come up with ways to distinguish his event. He wanted the marathon — which only had 127 runners the first year — to be on par with the premier American road race at the time, the Boston Marathon.
“And our marathon needed to be classed up, too,” Jane recalled, as we walked past her mountain laurel shrubs on a recent visit.
Meet Memo, a Queens building porter who also happens to be one of the fastest masters runners in the world
The New York Times’ Opinion section profiled Guillermo Piñeda Morales, a 46-year-old building porter in Queens. He also ran a 2:28:42 in Boston, placing him in the top 10 in the world in his age category. He hoped to run even faster at NYC.
Memo ran 2:33:03 in New York.
A 13-year-old Canadian girl was once the fastest marathoner in the world
On May 6, 1967, 13-year-old Canadian Maureen Wilton (now Maureen Mancuso) broke the women’s marathon world record.
She ran the Eastern Canadian Centennial Marathon Championships, a race that was five-mile loops in north Toronto, near York University.
When she crossed the finish line in 3:15:23, she became the first Canadian woman to officially run a marathon and the fastest female marathoner ever. 28 men and two women — the other being recent Boston marathon finisher Kathrine Switzer — were on the start line.
But when she finished, Maureen wasn’t greeted with adoration and celebration. Instead, her accomplishment was questioned because of her age and gender, her parents were shamed and she ended up keeping her world record pretty much a secret. She retired from running at 17.
There’s now a YA book out to tell her story. Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women's Running Revolutionary is by Rachel Swaby and Kit Fox.
A little voice inside her head punctured her thoughts. Maybe you were wrong? Maybe you were too slow? The twenty-fifth mile of a marathon is a disorienting place. Willpower tends to fade and you’re a lot more likely to heed the temptation of that little voice. It’ll ask you to ease off, slow down. Take a breather. Why bother when you can’t beat the time you wanted anyway?
Unless you’re fiercely competitive. Then you ignore the voice and try anyway. Maureen changed gears. She accelerated like you would in a sports car on an empty freeway. If she was gliding before, now she flew. Faster and faster her legs churned, up to a six-minute-per-mile pace. If she wasn’t going to break a world’s best time, she could at least prove she was capable of finishing a marathon.
You can be forgiven for not knowing Mancuso’s story, because her incredible run happened almost 50 years ago. But what if you had been there, back in the Summer of Love? Did Canadians celebrate her achievement? Did young Maureen get to ride Yonge Street on the back deck of a convertible, waving to adoring fans? Was she showered with rewards, our very own world beater?
She was not.
Mancuso got bupkes.
Muted mention in the media. No prize money. Not even an assembly at her school. Her coach was scolded by athletics officials. Her mom and dad were accused of putting their child in harm’s way.
Seen through modern eyes, the reaction to Mancuso’s marathon was cruel and cold. It left a marvellous young athlete feeling confused, and almost furtive about her accomplishment. It is hard to overstate how different the response to her run would be in today’s world, where tens of thousands of people — more women than men — show up for weekend marathons. At the very least, the women who run by the blockful today, owe some of their endurance sisterhood to a quiet act of defiance by that very young woman, back in Canada’s summer of Expo.
This whole interactive is excellent and includes archival tape and photos. It also includes a 2010 CBC Radio documentary, which appears to be the first time Maureen speaks publicly about her accomplishment as an adult.
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Reid Coolsaet reflects on the Toronto Waterfront Marathon
Reid Coolsaet, one of Canada’s greatest marathoners, blogged about his performance at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this year. He ran 2:15:23 to finish as the fourth Canadian and 14th overall. It wasn’t the result he wanted, but it was one he fought for, and he took away a lot of positives from the race:
I can’t really explain why my legs shut down as much as they did. I got all my bottles and estimate that I got over 40g/cho/hr, maybe even 50g/cho/hr. Going that far into a marathon at a pace that would make me really happy is motivating. That is one reason I’m happy with my result.
Another reason why I’m happy with the race is that I fought the whole way. There have been a few races in the past couple years where it was evident that I wasn’t going to have a great day and I didn’t dig that deep. Like in Philly, whats the difference between 65:15 and 65:47? I’m not going to be thrilled with either, why kill myself.
I’m also happy I set the Canadian Masters Marathon record that was held by Derek Fernie at 2:19.
This recap of breaking 2:50 at Toronto made me cry
Jason Faber, a tech worker and pretty fast runner in Toronto, has a blog called 42km. In his most recent post, he wrote about breaking 2:50 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20. Spoiler: he totally crushed it, running 2:41.
She has been my constant through it all. From my first horrible experience in the marathon after which I swore I’d never do it again, to the first time I broke 3 hours, to the hospital bedside in Chicago, to that final mile in Boston, to last Sunday in Toronto. But it’s not just race day. Just like training for a marathon, Katie’s contribution is like an iceberg — there is so much more below the surface than what the eye can see. She’s my biggest supporter every day. She challenges me to find more in myself and tells me to go after it. She doesn’t let me settle for just okay, because she’s convinced that I still have some untapped potential. It’s this confidence, love and belief that she has in me that has pushed me to explore it for myself. She was the first one who suggested we run a half marathon. She told me that I could qualify for Boston and that I could break three hours. She encouraged me to get a coach when I wanted to find that next level. She bought me my VaporFlys and new racing kit because she knew I wouldn’t get it for myself. And she was the one that said “you gotta go for it” when I sheepishly suggested that sub 2:40 was maybe, somehow, on my radar. Without her, I probably would have never run a marathon. I wouldn’t be where I’m at in my career. I sure as hell wouldn’t be the man or husband I am today. From trying to figure out who we were in our early twenties, to choosing to sleep in the wilderness for months, to exploring the other side of the world, to building and defining our new lives in Toronto, she’s the one who pushes me further and supports me no matter what. She’s the one who squeezes every last ounce of potential out of me. She’s the one who tells me to go for it, when I’m too scared to say it myself.
So what’s my secret? Well, it’s her.
There’s a new podcast about Canadian women runners
Women Run Canada is a podcast that launched this fall. So far, the show has released three episodes:
The show appears to be coming out weekly. The best way to stay up to date is by subscribing in iTunes or following them on Instagram.
This kid dressed up as Terry Fox for Halloween and asked for donations instead of candy
Seven-year-old Newfoundlander Ethan Smallwood wanted to dress up like his hero this Halloween. His hero is Terry Fox. He learned about the runner who tried to run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research during Terry Fox Day at school.
Ethan wanted to take his costume one step further: instead of asking for candy when he was out trick or treating, he wanted to ask for donations to the Terry Fox Foundation to support cancer research. He set up a fundraising page and his mom posted the costume and idea on Facebook.
This went viral and Ethan has raised over $25,000.
Several media outlets covered this story. Here’s a bit from CBC Newfoundland:
Ethan is a fan of superheroes — he was wearing Iron Man pyjamas on Friday for another fundraiser, Pajamarama — and says he hopes to dress up as comic book writer Stan Lee for Halloween next year.
He has already drawn comic books of his own, including one about Fox.
The boy considers Terry Fox's accomplishment of running from St. John's to Thunder Bay, Ont., before his cancer returned and forced him to end the Marathon of Hope, as just as worthy as anything done by someone wearing a cape.
“He's like one of the only superheroes on the planet, I think.”
If you want to send Ethan a donation, you can do that here.
Sam Effah and Sarah Wells talk about Amazing Race Canada on The Shakeout podcast
Former track stars and Olympians Sam Effah and Sarah Wells took part in the most recent season of Amazing Race Canada.
Wells is a hurdler who also runs the 4x400. She ran for Canada in the 2012 Olympics in London in the 400m hurdles. Her best international finish was a silver medal in the 400m hurdles at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Effah is a sprinter who specialized in the 100m. He was a two-time national champion at the distance, with a personal best of 10.06. He’s currently training for a shot on the Tokyo 2020 team.
The duo came second on Amazing Race Canada.
They were on a recent episode of Canadian Running’s podcast The Shakeout to talk about the experience, how they overcame adversity and disappointment in their track careers and what they are doing now to give back.
This summer, millions tuned in on Tuesday nights to cheer on ten teams race across the country on Amazing Race Canada. Now in its seventh season, the challenges were as formidable as ever. And while 29-year-old Olympic hurdler Sarah Wells and her partner, sprinter Sam Effah, had the tools to deal with the task, it wasn’t their athleticism that made them amazing. “It was far more mental than physical — it parallels an Olympic race,” says Wells. “Knowing that this feels terrible, that I am depleted, but being prepared to rise above that physiological alert was a massive asset of ours as athletes: to know how to not give up.”
Jessica O’Connell created a crosstraining resource for injured runners
Jessica O’Connell, the Canadian 5,000m reigning champion and 3,000m national record holder, has put together a crosstraining resource for injured runners. O’Connell had to withdrawal from the world championships this year due to a lower leg injury.
It’s comprehensive and shows that O’Connell knows her stuff — she’s both dealt with injury several times throughout her career and has a masters in exercise physiology.
Evan Dunfee has a lot of feelings and also data about moving the Olympic racewalks and marathons from Tokyo to Sapporo
Last week, I wrote about how the IOC is moving the Olympic marathons and racewalks to Sapporo. It’s a mess.
Canadian racewalker Evan Dunfee, who placed third in the 50K racewalk at the world championships, put together a great thread about how ridiculous this whole thing has become.
You have to click on this tweet to read it all, but it’s worth it:
The final kick
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