Race season is here!
Barkley course wins another year
By the time last week’s newsletter went out, the Barkley news was in: There were no finishers in 2019.
Three Canadians attempted the 100+ mile race this year: Jodi Isenor, Morgan Mckay and Stephanie Case. None of the Canadians completed more than one loop of the course.
Six runners completed a “fun run,” which is three complete loops of the course: Guillaume Calmettes, Greig Hamilton, Karel Sabbe, Tomokazu Ihara, Johan Steene and Jamil Cour.
I entered the Barkley because I am drawn to things I don’t understand, things that scare me, and challenges I’m not sure I will be able to handle. The Barkley was completely outside of my comfort zone and it represented the exact kind of challenge that I didn’t even know I wanted. After trying the Barkley last year and getting a taste of what it actually was – beyond the hype and the folklore – it was a privilege to come back. The Barkley wasn’t a bucket list item for me. It was a return to why I got into ultrarunning in the first place.
“I had so much more to give, and I didn’t get to give what I was there for,” she told the magazine. She hasn’t ruled out going back for another attempt. “When we got back to camp we were borderline hypothermic. I thought, no. But now, after a couple of days of thinking… what if I hadn’t made that mistake early on, and knowing what I’m capable of? It definitely makes me think I might want to do it again.”
Outside has a profile of the race’s founder and director, Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake. It’s a great read and offers a lot of insight into the man who conceived the hardest race in the world, refuses to tell people his age for fear of getting his identity stolen and was once an accomplished runner in his own right.
“At the center of it all is Laz, as runners call him, the bearded, potbellied figure presiding over the sufferfest with his pitbull, Big, at his feet and a Staples Easy Button for participants to press at the finish. It’s common knowledge that he lies about the actual race distance, which Barkley veterans hypothesize is closer to 120 or 130 miles.”
Ultrarunning History has an article and podcast about Barkley Marathons’ early years. The race has been around since 1986, and only 15 people have ever finished the race. When someone does, Laz makes the route harder.
“When they showed the rangers their route around the park, they were told that they wouldn’t be able to make it. The rangers didn’t want them to go on the hike because they didn’t want to have to rescue them. But the rangers were convinced to give them a permit. The first 7.5 miles took the two ten hours to cover.”
Around the Bay celebrates 125 years
Around the Bay turned 125 last Sunday. I ran it, then was too tired last week to add it to the newsletter, so you’re getting the intel on the race this week.
Emebet Mengistu won the women’s race in 1:45:57.
“I am not a Canadian citizen I am a landed immigrant but not citizen. But [if] I want (citizenship) I have to run for Canada. I want to run world cross country and the Olympics and the world championships for Canada. I would do them all.”
Dayna Pidhoresky, who has won the race four times previously, finished second.
Dayna wrote a recap of her race on her blog. She breaks the race down km by km and offers a look at what goes through an elite’s mind when racing.
“I was doing well focussing on myself, keeping my eyes fixed ahead. It was important to remind myself to control the controllables. Sometimes a fear creeps up on me that I am going to be passed, caught, out kicked — yeah, that might happen but if you are doing the best you can do in the moment, then that’s all you can do.”
The third place women’s finisher, Salome Nyirarukundo, is originally from Rwanda but now calls Ottawa home.
Rachel Hannah placed fourth and Krista DuChene placed fifth. DuChene is running the Boston marathon in two weeks. (More on Krista later in this newsletter!)
The Hamilton Spectator has an article that looks at the history of women participating in the race. 2019 marks 40 years since women were allowed to run Around the Bay. The race has a Kathrine Switzer-style history:
Officials didn't say a grudging yes until 1979, four years after Tersilla Komac, an Italian immigrant to Hamilton, then raising her family in Burlington, registered using only her first initial in order to disguise her gender.
"Whaaat? I had no idea it was only 40 year ago," said two-time defending women's champion Dayna Pidhoresky of Vancouver, who finished second in the 30K race in her bid to become the first five-time female winner in ATB history.
On the men’s side, Canadian Dylan Wykes placed third behind Dennis Kemboi and Panuel Mkungo.
Canadian Running’s Morning Shakeout podcast looked at the race’s history and lore with a special episode that included guests race directors Mike Zajczenko and Anna Lewis, Krista DuChene, who has run the race 10 times, and race icon the Grim Reaper.
Krista DuChene is ready for Boston
Krista DuChene is set to toe the line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. More eyes are on her this year as a result of her surprise third-place finish last year. As a result, she’s been doing a lot of media in the buildup to the race.
“Aging gracefully is very important to me at this point in my career. And I will continue to be grateful for every opportunity to run what may be my last marathon.”
Krista also spoke with her local paper, the Brantford Expositor. She discussed her race plan in the piece.
“My intention is to be smart and wait to push mentally when those hills come at the end and to not worry so much about what my watch says,” she said.
“It’s more about placement than time and that’s nice because it takes the pressure off of constantly looking at your splits.”
She doesn’t rule out Tokyo 2020 and expresses how she’s content with the moment — a lesson every runner could use.
Strong performances at the Spring Run-Off
At the Spring Run-Off in Toronto on Saturday, April 6, Tristan Woofine won the men’s 8K race in 24:08. Scottish runner Sarah Inglis, who trains in B.C. and recently set the Canadian all-comers 5K record, won the women’s 8K race in 26:47. Athletics Illustrated has a good recap of the race.
“It’s bloody hard. I did my warmup and we were talking about ‘kill the hill,’” [Sarah Inglis] said, “I knew there was at least one hill but there was bloody five of them. Up and down. There have been some brilliant Olympians who haven’t broken 26 minutes here then, when I saw the course, I thought ‘it’s no wonder.’”
Strong Canadian performances at Rotterdam
John Mason ran 2:15:15. The time is a three-minute personal best for the Guelph-based runner. He was also the top male North American runner in the field.
On the women’s side, Melanie Myrand ran a small personal best at Rotterdam on Sunday, clocking in at 2:33:17.
Emily Setlack, who is a strong trail runner and was the 2018 Canadian Mountain Running Champion, also ran an 11-minute personal best of 2:35:44.
Masters runner Catherine Watkins didn’t have the best day, and dropped out of the race at 27k.
Book of the week
With the Boston Marathon fast approaching, I think recommending books about Boston is the most appropriate thing to do. I LOVED Duel in the Sun by John Brant which looked at the 1982 race, which was a showdown between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. It’s not only an epic race report, it’s an exploration of how two very different elite runners get to this moment and how the race impacted the rest of their careers and, really, their lives.
Strides: links I liked
North Shore News has a profile of Canadian runner Natasha Wodak, who has just returned from world cross-country championships, where she was 42nd overall, the second Canadian and the team places seventh. She’s 37 now but still thinks there’s a lot of great performances ahead of her. “It’s kind of like a dream come true. I’m now living and training full-time, doing this full-time, which is nice. I’m travelling the world doing what I love. Not many people get to say that they get to do that,” she told the paper.
Self has a nice roundup of 16 runners recommending their go-to podcasts. It’s not all running podcasts, it’s a mix of motivational stuff, true crime, humour podcasts, and more.
Women’s Running tackles the change to the Boston marathon elite start: men will now have an elite-only start, just like women have had for years. It’s a good change, one is a step towards gender parity in marathoning.
Runner’s World has a profile of American marathoner Sara Hall, who is running her first-ever Boston this year. Sara has a CanCon connection: she ran her personal best at the Ottawa Marathon last year. Her 2:26:20 at that race is the 10th fastest American woman’s marathon of all time.
Runner’s World also has a profile of reigning Boston women’s champ Des Linden. Des changed her approach to training quite a bit since her win and also also struggled with balancing her new-found fame with training, but she makes once thing clear: she’s returning to defend her title. 2019 isn’t a victory lap.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running! As always, if you want to reach out, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.