Boston is over, but London is just around the corner

A roundup of random running news as we wait for the next world major.

Canadians at Boston

Boston was pretty great. The weather wasn’t too bad, the men’s race was a sprint to the finish with Lawrence Cherono edging out Lelisa Desisa at the tape by two seconds. The women’s race saw Worknesh Degefa go out hard early, but held on to the very end. By the time anyone decided to chase her down, it was too late.

How did the Canadians do?

Krista DuChene had a rough day. She ran 2:44:12, which was eight seconds faster than her 2018 performance, but with better weather, this result put her in 46th place overall and in seventh masters place compared to her third overall finish last year.

Krista was the third Canadian woman across the finish line.

Krista took to iRun after her race to share her thoughts. Her performance wasn’t what she wanted, but she’s been running enough to know there’s something to take away from each one:

With only running two marathons a year, you roll with the highs and lows.

So, what’s one the problem with the marathon? It’s on one day. There’s a lot you can control leading up to that one day but when it comes to race day, as my kids would say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Nearly everything was identical between my 2018 and 2019 Boston Marathons: training, racing, healthy and injury-free, and goal of sub 2:40, top 3 masters and top 15 overall. What was different? That one day.

The top Canadian woman was Kate Gustafson, who ran 2:42:34 to place 35th.

The second Canadian woman was Anne Johnston, who ran 2:43:02 to finish 37th. Anne’s Boston performance earned her the title of St. John’s Telegram’s Outstanding Athlete of the Week.

And she was profiled by CBC Newfoundland:

"I came into it saying I just want to enjoy the experience and not stress too much about the time," said Johnston over the phone from Boston….

"It was a sea of people,' she said. "For the first eight kilometres it was just shoulder to shoulder with other runners all running the same speed. It was incredible."

"The energy of the race is what helped me have such an incredible result," she said. "The time just flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it, tried to soak it all in."

On the men’s side, Karl Augsten was the first Canadian to finish, running 2:25:30 to finish 48th.

Matthew McNeil was second, finishing 73rd overall in 2:28:27 and Christopher Aranda was third, coming in 105th place overall, running 2:30:54.

Stuart McGregor won the visually impaired men’s division, running 3:12:02. Boston was only his second marathon ever.

The Ottawa Sun profiled Stuart before the race:

“I got sick of everyone else being a good athlete. I missed the feel of being in really good shape and having goals. I wanted to return,” said McGregor, an elementary school teacher and a personal and team sports trainer.

“I’m older and I love to run. I could have run masters (30-and-older) events, but I had no interest to be on the track, and I’m not good doing exercise for the sake of exercise. I wanted to run when I wanted to run. It keeps me motivated and competitive. I compete against myself and my own goals.”

Keijo Taivassalo won the 80+ division, running 3:47:10, which I am told is the fastest time ever run by an 80+ runner in Boston history.

Canadians also took home the women’s 80+ division (Elizabeth Borrett in 5:00:53) and the women’s 75-79 division (Jean Marmoreo in 4:18:44)

Those 17 runners I profiled last week

Last week I wrote the world’s longest newsletter and highlighted 17 runners worth watching. How did they do?

  1. Krista DuChene: 2:44:12 for 46th place overall, well off her 3rd place finish last year and her goal of top 15 and top 3 masters.

  2. New Des Linden looks a lot like old Des Linden, running 2:27 for a respectable fifth place finish. Des is now only missing third place to complete a set of 1-2-3-4-5 place finishes at Boston.

  3. Yuki Kawauchi, defending champion, had a rough day, running 2:15:29 to finish 17th place. His mom Mika ran 3:41:52, nabbing her a BQ for 2020.

  4. Japanese runner Hiroto Inoue did not have the breakout race I was hoping for, running 2:11:53 to end in 12th place.

  5. Sara Hall ran 2:35:34 for 15th place, well off her personal best.

  6. In her third marathon Jordan Hasay came third for the third time, in a time of 2:25:20. She immediately announced she will chase the American marathon record at Chicago in the fall, showcasing that her injury days are behind her.

  7. Edna Kiplagat made a valiant effort to close the gap between eventual winner Worknesh Degefa and the chase pack but ran out of real estate before she could catch her and had to settle for second place.

  8. Joan Benoit Samuelson easily beat her goal time of 3:15:35., running 3:04. When you age grade the 2019 results, Joan wins the whole damn thing.

  9. Canadian marathon soil record holder Philemon Rono rebounded well from a poor 2018 with a 2:08:58 run in Boston, good enough for sixth place.

  10. Lelisa Desisa lost the 2019 content by inches, losing to Lawrence Cherono in one of the closest finishes in Boston marathon history.

  11. Geoffrey Kirui came fifth, running 2:08:55.

  12. Sarah Sellers missed her goals of sub-2:30 and top 10, running 2:36:42 to come 19th. On Instagram, Sarah admitted she had battled with cramping on the course and had a tough time out here and admitted the pressure to do well was getting to her more than she let on.

  13. Gene Dykes broke his own Boston course record for the 70+ age group, running 2:58:50. It was also announced Gene is returning to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, presumably to legally beat Ed Whitlock’s 70+ world record.

  14. Jim Willett completed his Around the Bay to Boston journey, running 26.2 in 3:12:16. He struggled with injuries along the way and ran fewer KMs than originally planned, but he plans to make up for those missed miles by running his sock donations to homeless shelters on foot.

  15. 16. & 17. Not one but two American men broke 2:10: Scott Fauble ran 2:09:10 for seventh place and Jared Ward ran 2:09:26 for eighth.

Good post-Boston reads

Scott Fauble posts all his workouts on Strava like the millions of everyday runners. He talked to Outside magazine about why:

I asked Fauble whether he was at all concerned that a potential rival could monitor his progress on Strava, or see exactly what workouts his was doing to prepare for a race. 

“This isn’t a sport like football or basketball where you can out-game plan somebody. You show up and you’re either fit or not,” Fauble said, seemingly unconcerned. “Whether you share your training or not isn’t going to change how fit or unfit you are.”

Fauble isn’t the only elite who uses Strava: Canadians Reid Coolsaet, Malindi Elmore, Melanie Myrand, Leslie Sexton and race walker Evan Dunfee all post to the platform regularly.

Women’s Running profiled Edna Kiplagat, the 39-year-old mother of five who tried to chase down the leader and ended up in second place. She’s coached by her husband and her family has recently relocated to Boulder, Colorado. And even though she turns 40 in November, she has no plans to slow down:

After Boston, Kiplagat took four days off before starting swimming, biking, and some strength work. As she’s gotten older, she’s also increased massage and flexibility exercises, while decreasing her mileage. Ten years ago, Kiplagat ran up to 124 miles per week, with three hard workouts (speed on Tuesdays, tempos on Wednesdays, speed again on Thursdays). Now she tops out at about 100 miles per week and takes recovery days when she needs them, Koech said.

CBC dipped in the archives and pulled out some gems about Jerome Drayton, who won the Boston marathon in 1977 and was the Canadian marathon record holder for 40 years, until Cam Levins broke it last fall. The article is basically Jerome complaining about, well, everything:

Interviewer Peter Gzowski wanted to know what Drayton was doing next.

Another race, it turned out  — a 10,000-metre one, less than one-quarter of the distance of a marathon.

"Actually, I don't really like marathons. I only do 'em because it happens to be my best event," said Drayton. " But I prefer track."

Citius magazine takes on the BQ or bust mentality:

If you are about to run your first Boston Marathon, you’ve probably got the BAA acceptance letter on your refrigerator and have looked at the weather forecast, on average, 113 times per day. You’re giddy. You’ve made it. You are about to check off one of the biggest bucket list items there is for a runner. Congratulations. Go get that unicorn.

If you haven’t run Boston, and especially if you think you never will, you may be feeling the opposite way. Your refrigerator door has magnetic letters on it and although they don’t spell anything in particular, all you can see is “BQ” and “No.” You’re happy for your friends who are running Boston, but this is a tough time. It’s the ultimate FOMO.

The Boston Marathon creates an invisible divide among runners. You’ve run Boston. I haven’t. I qualified. You didn’t. This division is not healthy, and in my opinion it’s completely unnecessary. Yes, the Boston Marathon comes with history and prestige, but it doesn’t have to be your only quest – any more than Paris has to be the one city in the world you must visit. 

The New York Times profiled Derek Murphy, the man behind MarathonInvestigation.com, a site set up to catch runners who cheat their way into Boston:

Sometimes his hunt for the evildoers of marathoning begins with a tip, but he often begins by transferring results from a race website into a spreadsheet. The results can identify runners who showed significant changes in pace, or missed splits, meaning that they may have missed spots on the course where a microchip in their bib signals to a sensor that they are progressing.

Either could signal that they skipped a part of the race. Then he tries to find secondary evidence.

For that, he turns to photos taken by the race, which he can usually search for using a runner’s bib number. He looks for runners who dropped out of a race but got a result because the microchip on their bib triggered as it crossed the finish line.

Notable recent Canadian performances

Boston wasn’t the only race that happened recently.

→ Boston also puts on a 5K during marathon weekend. Canadians Justyn Knight and Ben Flanagan finished 3rd and 4th respectively. Knight ran 13:46 and Flanagan ran 13:49.

→ On the other coast, The Vancouver Sun Run 10K saw two homegrown runners take home the top prizes. Local runner Justin Kent won the men’s race in 29:30 and Natasha Wodak took home the women’s crown in 32:38.

Kent was thrilled with his victory, according to Athletics Illustrated:

“I am speechless,” said Kent of Surrey. “It’s a dream come true. We were five abreast at 8K and I looked around all five of us were all feeling pretty good. [Trevor] Hofbauer made a good move around 9k up the Cambie Bridge ramp and I just hung tough. I knew that if I was in reach over the final 400m I could take it. I took a swing and sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, but I did it – the Sun Run is such an iconic event — until now I haven’t had a chance to experience it. To have my family and friends here it’s just great, I am blown away.”

Evan Dunfee has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the 50K race walk. He nabbed the qualifying time at a race in Japan on April 14:

Tirfi Tsegaye to return from mat leave at Ottawa 2019

According to Let’s Run, Ethiopian runner Tirfi Tsegaye is returning from mat leave this spring, and has a win in Ottawa on the top of her list. She’s won Tokyo and Berlin, placed second at Boston and fourth in the Olympics.

She’s focused on winning, but if the day goes well, beating the course record of 2:22:17 is a reasonable stretch goal, but she’s not familiar with Ottawa at all:

“Ottawa is a big deal for me now because I need to get back to my winning form,” she stresses. “I have big expectations for Ottawa and I will try and do my level best.

“I figure it’s going to be a little hard for me to beat the record set by Gelete last year. But, I think if I try my best I believe that it is beatable. I’m not familiar with the course or the climate. And I have not yet talked with any other athletes about the Ottawa race. But, soon I hope.”

Watch this great Eliud Kipchoge short film

The London Marathon released the short film Eliud ahead of race day next Sunday. The 10-minute film looks at the training regime of the greatest marathoner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge:

Rachel Cliff reflects on marathon dominance

CBC Sports has a series called Players Own Voice, where athletes share events that are important to them. The latest entrant is an essay by Rachel Cliff, where she reflects on transitioning to the marathon and breaking the Canadian marathon record in only her second attempt at the distance:

While I genuinely enjoyed the longer distances, and saw more success the longer I went, a move up to the marathon felt different. The previous changes I’d made were merely subtle event focuses.  A 10,000m runner can easily drop down to 5,000m or even 1,500m — they are all track events, after all.  But switching to the marathon represented an identity change, it meant a different style of training, which may not be immediately transferable back to the track. It meant learning how to fuel and leaving the predictable 400m oval for the changing conditions of the road.

But for the most part, my fear of the marathon was about the potential for heartbreak. Track has a “season”, lasting about four months, and success is evaluated over multiple races. In the marathon, three to four months of training is measured almost entirely by one final race. The marathon pushes your body for speed and distance, which is inherently risky. A lot can go wrong in a marathon and in the training leading up to it. Some of that is within your control, some isn’t — the latter scares me most. We’ve all heard stories of marathon runners who were in peak shape, only to miss the start or finish line due to injury or illness or have poor weather on the day. The marathon rarely grants second chances.

Get Out There magazine also released a nice profile on Rachel recently. It has her reflecting on her 2:26 performance and why she ended up racing a women’s only marathon in Japan.

The book to read this week

I read Running: A Love Story a few years ago, and it’s premise is unremarkable: Jen A. Miller is a journalist who finds running and turns to it, again and again, through job changes, relationships, breakups and more. It’s a lovely little book about how running can bring us stability, companionship and a release when we need it most. It’s also about how chasing your own goals can be so damn hard and sometimes so futile, but when it all comes together, so worth it.

Strides: links worth reading

Sports Illustrated has an excerpt from Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness’s new book, The Passion Paradox. In the excerpt, they look at Shalane Flanagan’s approach to how she balances family, running and other commitments:

People like Shalane Flanagan have the self-awareness to understand the power of going all in on something, but also when to pivot to something else. Studies show that those who possess strong internal self-awareness make better decisions, have better personal relationships, are more creative, and have more fulfilling careers. Other research demonstrates that internal self-awareness is associated with improved mental health and general well-being.

Outside magazine makes the argument that the running boom isn’t going anywhere:

But it’s worth considering what inspires someone to buy an overpriced photo of themselves wearing tiny shorts, or plaster a “26.2” decal on their car. I certainly don’t think it’s a desire to show off. My theory is that running is meaningful to thousands of people in a very fundamental way that’s also really difficult to articulate and understand, so we compensate by buying all sorts of ancillary junk. It’s a similar impulse that, in the short term, might bolster the appeal of tricked-out, swag heavy events — the idea that there can be tangible reward for an intangible feeling. 

A stray dog named Cactus joined the 140-mile race through the desert, the Marathon des Sables.

The dog went on to finish, earning his own medal. Before he crossed the finish line, the New York Times wrote a story about him:

Cactus joined the race on Monday, near a checkpoint at the Erg Chebbi, where runners entered a sea of dunes for eight miles of exhausting undulations. Well, exhausting for nearly everyone but Cactus.

“That dog was a beast; he ran right past me and I couldn’t keep up,” said Theo Holzapfel, a runner from London. “I kept following his footprints; I figured he knew where the hard sand was.”

The final kick

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running! If you want to get in touch, you can find me at runthenorthnews@gmail.com.