We saw several strong performances at the PanAm Games in Lima and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon announced many more Canadian elites!
I have the PanAm track results here and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon has gone ALL IN on their Canadian elite field. This newsletter focuses on both of these pretty heavily, but there’s some bonus content at the bottom too.
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Canada wins 10 track medals at PanAm
The PanAm Games took place in Lima, Peru from July 26 to Aug. 11, 2019. Canada sent 46 track athletes and 477 athletes in total.
Overall, Canada won 148 medals, with 10 of them coming from track events and two from multi-sport events.
Natasha Wodak wins gold in 10,000m, Rachel Cliff takes bronze
Natasha Wodak took home gold and broke the PanAm record in the 10,000m, setting the stage for a successful games for all of Canada’s track and field team.
Wodak crossed the finish line in 31:55.17.
"This one is definitely the most special. I have never won a medal in a Games event so I just felt really good," Wodak told CBC Sports. "My parents were here and I just went and saw them and it was just really special, you know, being 37 and having been doing this for so long, it's really good. Also, it's really good points going into the Olympics so I'm hoping my ranking will stay nice and high."
Fellow Canadian — and Canadian marathon and half-marathon record holder — Rachel Cliff came third. Her 32:13.24 run was good enough for bronze. After breaking the marathon record and securing the 2020 Olympic standard in the marathon, Cliff decided to focus on track this summer. It’s a gamble that has paid off so far.
"It's my first time at the Pan American Games and to get on the podium is really special. I went hard from the gun and I feel like I really earned this one, so I'm pretty proud of it," Cliff told CBC Sports.
In the men’s 10,000m, Rory Linkletter placed sixth, running 28:38.49.
You can watch the women’s race below:
Sage Watson takes home gold, silver medals
Sage Watson won gold in the 400m hurdles. Her time of 55.16 was a season’s best for the former University of Arizona athlete and is under the 2020 Olympic standard time.
Watson is originally from rural Alberta, where her parents run a cattle ranch, but continues to train in Arizona. She represented Canada in the 2016 Olympics and won the NCAA 400m hurdles championship in 2017.
You can watch the race below:
Watson also took home silver as a member of the 4x400 relay team. The team, which included Natassha McDonald, Aiyanna Stiverne and Kyra Constantine, ran 3:27.01. The United States took home gold and Jamaica claimed bronze.
Constantine also placed fifth in the 400m race, running 51.99 seconds.
You can watch the 4x400 relay race below:
Watson took Canadian Running inside the athletes’ village, which is hosting 6,700 athletes, in Peru: “Our rooms are nice, and Team Canada made a great lounge for the athletes to get snacks and hang out in. The dining hall is huge, and there’s an international zone where you can get food, extra snacks and see some Peruvian culture,” she told the magazine.
Marco Arop wins 800m gold, sets PanAm record
Marco Arop set a PanAm record with his 800m win. The 1:44:25 time was a huge personal best for the 20-year-old.
"I don't know what to think of that. Times were the last thing on my mind. I was just hoping to win a medal for Canada," Arop told CBC Sports. "To have a personal best and Pan Am Games record is just extra. That's just a bonus right there."
Arop came second in the 800m to Brandon McBride at the Canadian national championships earlier this summer. He set the Canadian indoor 800m record earlier this year, when he ran 1:45.90 at an NCAA meet. Arop, who is from Edmonton, will be a junior at Mississippi State University in the fall.
In the women’s 800m race, Lindsey Butterworth ran 2:02.58, good for a fifth-place finish.
You can watch the men’s race below:
Geneviève Lalonde wins steeplechase gold, sets PanAm record
Geneviève Lalonde won gold and broke the PanAm record in the 3K steeplechase. She crossed the finish line in 9:41.45. Lalonde also holds the Canadian record in this event — she set that record in May.
"Representing Canada every time is just such an honour and every time I put that Canadian flag on, you want to do your best for your country so being able to bring home gold in a field like today's, it definitely means a lot," Lalonde told CBC Sports.
Lalonde won bronze in this event at the PanAm Games in 2015. Lalonde, who is from New Brunswick, was also the top Canadian at the world cross-country championships.
Canada’s other female steeplechase competitor, Regan Yee, finished fifth in 10:00.08.
On the men’s side, Ryan Smeeton ran 8:41.85 to place sixth.
You can watch the women’s race below:
Damian Warner, Pierce LePage win gold, bronze in decathlon
Damian Warner successfully defended his PanAm decathlon title. He finished with 8,513 points.
The cold conditions impacted all the athletes. Warner was also dealing with a bone spur in his ankle. He struggled in some of the field events (esp. pole vault and javelin) but pulled out strong enough performances in his track events to claim gold.
"It was a hard-fought battle but a win is a win," Warner told CBC Sports. "I'm liking how it's progressing and I'm liking how it's feeling going into Doha. I think that I'm ready for a bigger score there."
Pierce LePage, Canada’s rising decathlon star, scored 8,161 points to claim bronze.
LePage, who is from Whitby, Ont., was the 2017 national champion in the decathlon and wore the maple leaf for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He was also the first-ever winner of the RBC Training Ground program — you know, those “You could be an Olympian too” commercials.
Warner is ranked second in the world in the decathlon. Page is ranked seventh. Both have already qualified for Tokyo.
Jessica O’Connell wins silver in 5,000m
Jessica O’Connell took home a silver medal in the 5,000m. The race ended fassssst and the finish was close. O’Connell finished in 15:36.08. Mexican runner Laura Galvan took home gold in 15:35.47, and the bronze medal went to American runner American runner Kimberley Conley, who finished in 15:36.95.
O’Connell has previously represented Canada in the 5,000m at the 2015 PanAm Games and the 2016 Olympics. She also broke the Canadian 3,000m indoor record earlier this year.
I couldn’t find a video of this race!
4x100m women’s relay team takes silver
The 4x100m women’s relay team, comprised of Crystal Emmanuel, Khamica Bingham, Ashlan Best and Leya Buchanan, won a silver medal. The team ran 43.37 for their second-place finish. Brazil took gold and the US took bronze.
Canada kicked hard to squeeze by the Americans for second place.
The 4x100m men’s relay team, comprised of Gavin Smellie, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Mobolade Ajomale, placed fourth with a run of 39 seconds flat.
Crystal Emmanuel ran in the 100m and 200m finals as well. She came fourth in the 200m, running 22.89 and seventh in the 100m, running 11.41 seconds.
You can watch the women’s 4x100m relay below:
William Paulson takes bronze in 1,500m
William Paulson ran 3:41.15 in the 1,500m, good enough for bronze. It was a close race, with Paulson getting outkicked in the end by Mexican runner Jose Carlos Villarreal, who won gold, and American runner, John Gregorek, who won silver.
In the final stretch, Paulson, who holds dual citizenship with the U.K. and was donning the maple leaf for the first time, had gold in mind.
“I made my move on the back straight and tried to make a long run for it. The gap opened up and I just went for it,” he told CBC Sports. “Coming into the home stretch I thought I had it but obviously I didn’t quite hold on in the last 30 meters. I’m a little disappointed but obviously super happy to get a medal.”
You can watch the race below:
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Toronto Waterfront Marathon hosts “elite week” on social media, announces 10 more Canadians running
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is going to be littttttt this year. The race is going all-in on trying to create a Canadian Olympics trials-like race and I am here for it.
After announcing an already stacked field of Cam Levins, Reid Coolsaet, Rob Watson, Dylan Wykes, Kinsey Middleton and Malindi Elmore, the race held “elite week” on social media and added 10 new names to the mix. Check them out below.
Dayna Pidhoresky came sixth at the Ottawa marathon earlier this year, one placement off scoring an Olympic standard. Her A goal in Ottawa was the standard, her B goal was top 5. The 32-year-old’s personal best is 2:36:08, which she ran in Ottawa in 2017.
Pidhoresky has represented Canada internationally previously, placing 70th in the marathon at the 2017 world championships. She’s also a four-time winner of Hamilton’s Around the Bay 30K road race. Pidhoresky is originally from Ontario but now lives in Vancouver.
Trevor Hofbauer won the Canadian marathon championships in 2017. The 27-year-old boasts a 2:16:48 personal marathon best, which he ran at Hamburg earlier this year.
2:13 was his original target in Hamburg, but he battled illness during his buildup. Hofbauer, who is from Calgary, recently returned to his hometown to train. We will see on Oct. 20 whether this move has paid off and if he can nab that sub 2:13 time.
Kate Bazeley is one of the greatest runners ever from Newfoundland. The 35-year-old holds a marathon PR of 2:39:55, which she set in Houston in January of this year. She holds both the Newfoundland marathon and half-marathon record.
In an interview with NL Running in January, she said the world championship standard of 2:37 was her goal, and under 2:35 “would be a good day.”
She also sees herself as a model for her three daughters: “I want to see how fast I can run as a mom of 3 young girls,” she told lululemon, where she is a run club leader. “I want to be a good role model for them and show them a healthy lifestyle and what determination, commitment and hard work look like.”
Aaron Cooper has been the third Canadian at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon for the past two years, but he definitely has some competition if he wants top three again this year.
The 33-year-old has run eight marathons and has impressively PRed in each one. He set his current PR of 2:18:00 in Toronto last year. Cooper, who is from Camlachie, Ont., currently works as a software developer in Toronto.
Toronto will mark the second attempt at 42.2K for Chris Balestrini. The 27-year-old made his debut at the distance this past spring, when he ran 2:22:10 in Rotterdam. The London, Ont. native has had several strong performances in 2019, including a second place finish at the Canadian half-marathon championships and a fourth-place finish at the 10K national champs.
According to his baseball card on Instagram, Balestrini is looking to run under 2:20. He’s currently studying at Western University, where he’s pursing a combined medical degree and PhD in neurobiology.
Robyn Mildren is making her 42.2K debut in Toronto. The 29-year-old is an accomplished mountain runner. She holds a 1:13:21 personal best in the half-marathon, which she ran in January at Houston. She placed third at the Canadian half-marathon championships in Winnipeg and placed second at the Canadian mountain running championships in Quebec this summer.
Mildren grew up in Dundas, Ont. and is now based in Vancouver, where she is a PhD candidate in kinesiology at the University of British Columbia.
“I’ve been watching the 🇨🇦 women’s marathon scene explode and I am just ecstatic to give it my best shot,” she wrote on Instagram.
Rory Linkletter will be making his marathon debut in Toronto. The 23-year-old was born in Calgary and grew up in Utah. He holds dual citizenship, but has chosen to run for Canada on the international stage. He made his senior Canadian debut at the PanAm Games in Lima, where he placed sixth in the 10,000m.
Linkletter just graduated from Brigham Young University, where he was a six-time All American and was on the BYU team that podiumed twice at the NCAA cross-country championships.
He announced earlier this summer that he signed a pro contract with NAZ Elite. NAZ Elite is sponsored by Hoka One One, coached by Ben Rosario and boasts top American marathoners on their roster such as Scott Fauble, Stephanie Bruce and Kellyn Taylor.
(I need to know if Rory calls it N-A-Zee or N-A-Zed. I might start a podcast just so I can get this answer.)
Anne-Marie Comeau made her debut at 42.2K earlier this year, running 2:43:59 at the Ottawa marathon. The 23-year-old also won the 21K de Montreal this year, running 1:14:06.
Comeau has already represented Canada in the Olympics…. in cross-country skiing. She placed 48th in the 15 kilometre skiathlon and was on the 4x5km relay team that came 13th at the 2018 games in PyeongChang.
Comeau was a cross-country running star at Laval University before focusing on skiing in preparation for the 2018 Olympics. With 2020 in sight, her focus has been back on the roads, but there’s been no indication whether she’s done with skiing for good just yet.
Tristan Woodfine has had a strong 2019 so far. The 25-year-old was the top Canadian at the competitive Houston marathon in January, running 2:15:19. He also won the Canadian half-marathon championships in Winnipeg on June, running 1:04:46. Both performances were huge personal bests for the Cobden, Ont. native. How much faster can he get?
According to this Athletics Illustrated interview, Woodfine is trained as a paramedic professionally, but has put pause on that career track to focus on his running. Meanwhile, he is working with his father as a carpenter in his hometown to pay the bills.
Evan Esselink will be making his marathon debut in Toronto. The 27-year-old’s PB in the half-marathon is 1:02:13, which happens to be the fourth fastest half-marathon ever run by a Canadian. He ran that in Houston this year. He also ran a big 10K PB at the lululemon 10K in Edmonton this summer.
Esselink, who is from Vancouver, trains with the British Columbia Endurance Project. He spent his NCAA career at Indiana University.
After Houston, he spoke with Athletics Illustrated about his eventual move to the marathon: “I will move up eventually, but ‘when’ is not set in stone,” he said. “I’m excited about it though. I mean I respect the event, but I also have a lot of confidence that I’ll run something big and when the time comes I’ll be ready.”
Why is the Canadian elite field so big this year?
This is the biggest Canadian field ever for ANY marathon. Why? I have three guesses.
Duh. The Olympic qualifying window for the marathon is open from January 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020. To qualify, you need to run under 2:11:30 for men or 2:29:30 for women OR finish top 10 in a World Marathon Major OR finish top 5 at a IAAF gold label race (Toronto has this label) OR be ranked high enough in the world to qualify. I explained it all here.
I know I keep referencing it but it’s confusing as hell and it’s a really hard standard to hit. But if you look at the fall races a Canadian can run to nab the standard, Toronto is a good bet: it’s fast, it’s gold label, the top Canadian is automatically selected to the team (if they get the standard by the deadline) and it’s early enough in the fall that if they have a shitty race, they can try again in the spring.
This year, Canada Running Series announced more money and more bonuses for Canadian performances. In addition to appearance fees, prize money for the top Canadians, prize money for breaking various records, this year’s race has extra performance bonuses for Canadian elites.
All Canadians who run the standard will receive a $5,000 bonus. Those who run 2:13:00/2:31:00 will get $3,000; those who run 2:14:00 /2:32:00 will get $2,000 and those who run 2:15:00/2:33:00 will get $1,000.
Canada Running Series (the race organizer) is all-in
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon has always invested in bringing the best Canadian runners as well as bringing top-level international talent to Toronto. It’s was the site of Eric Gillis and Reid Coolsaet qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. It was where both Krista DuChene and Lanni Marchant broke the Canadian women’s marathon record in 2013. It’s where Ed Whitlock broke world age-group records. And it was where Cam Levins broke the long-standing men’s Canadian record last year.
With 2019 marking the race’s 30th anniversary and with an Olympics just around the corner, this seems like a good time to promote the race and further establish itself as Canada’s premier marathon. This is the first time they’ve done “elite week” on social media and this is the first time they’ve branded the race the “Canadian marathon trials.” They want this to be a thing so they are doing the work to make it a thing.
Sasha Gollish running New York City marathon
Sasha Gollish is another Canadian chasing the 2020 Olympic standard, but she has decided to do it in New York City. The NYC marathon takes place on Nov. 3, 2019.
Gollish joins a field that includes defending NYC champion Mary Keitany, 2019 Boston marathon champion Worknesh Degefa, and half-marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei.
Americans at NYC in 2019 include Des Linden, Kellyn Taylor, Allie Kieffer, Roberta Groner (who is also running the world championships six weeks prior) and Sara Hall (who is also running the Berlin marathon this year).
Because NYC is a world major, Gollish needs to finish top 10 to claim the 2020 Olympic standard.
The most recent Canadian elite to run NYC was Lanni Marchant in 2016. She ran 2:33:50 to place seventh. It was the fastest time ever by a Canadian woman at NYC.
Gollish, who is 37 years old, made her marathon debut in January in Houston, where she ran 2:32:52. Prior to that, she ran for the University of Toronto while working on her PhD and in 2015 she won a bronze medal in the 1,500m at the PanAm Games.
On a not-running but equally impressive note, Gollish successfully defended her PhD in engineering education from the University of Toronto earlier this summer. We can call her Dr. Sasha Gollish now.
Siblings Abera Kuma and Dibabe Kuma running Toronto
The international field at Toronto just got a lot tougher. Ethiopian siblings Abera Kuma and Dibabe Kuma announced they were both going to line-up on Oct. 20 and both have a legitimate shot of winning.
It’s the first time the twosome will run a race together.
“I am looking forward to traveling together. I think it will help because it’s family and I will be relaxed,” Dibabe told Canada Running Series in a press release I received via email. “Abera inspired me to start running, his support helped me a lot at the beginning of my career.”
Abera ran the Ottawa marathon earlier this year, placing second with a run of 2:08:14. He set his personal best of 2:05:50 at Rotterdam last year.
Dibabe ran her 2:23:34 at the Ljubljana (Slovakia) Marathon last year. but er first marathon victory came earlier this year in Hamburg.
The final kick
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running!