It's been a week of stunning performances.
I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving, if you celebrated, and the holiday Monday if you got it off.
This issue has a recap of Ineos 1:59 (holy hell, he did it), a recap of the Chicago Marathon (the women’s world record fell), and a preview of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (sooooo many Canadians running this one), along with some extra tidbits at the end. If you want to skip the international stuff and get right to the CanCon, go for it — it’s there after a bit of scrolling, I promise.
Thanks so much for reading. If you want to reach out for any reason, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eliud Kipchoge breaks two-hour barrier at the Ineos 1:59 challenge
It was never really in question.
I got up at 3 a.m. ET to watch it. For an hour, it was equal parts kinda boring and totally mesmerizing. Eliud was locked in, occasionally smiling. Out, around a roundabout, switch pace teams, back, around a roundabout, switch pace teams. All the way until the end.
A team of 41 pacers from around the world — 10 teams of seven paced him over 5km each — led him through almost perfect 2:50km split after 2:50km split. They ran in a W shape ahead of him, the tallest person directly in front of him. Two pacers followed up behind him.
(Correction note: An earlier version of this newsletter said the pacemakers were in teams of six. Apparently I can’t count.)
He never ran a slower split than 2:52 or faster than 2:48 until the very end. The pacers flowed beautifully, only one transition was a little awkward, but it didn’t matter in the end.
The shoes he wore were an unreleased version of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. They garnered a lot of hot takes online — that running is becoming a race of technology instead of a race of human ability. If you’re interested in knowing more about the shoes, Runner’s World has a good article about them.
You can rewatch the whole thing on YouTube if you want. At one point, there were more than 774,000 people from around the world tuning in.
The pacers seemed grateful to be part of this project. American Matt Centrowitz called it one of the most memorable days of his career — and he has an Olympic gold medal. American Bernard Lagat is going to save the kit he wore and put it in a place of honour in his house — and Lagat is pretty much a running legend.
I loved the fans on the sidelines. The ones on bikes following him up and down the course. The ones who tried to keep pace with him along the sidewalk. The ones who made signs. The ones who pounded the barriers to make even more noise — more than one pacer said it was so loud that they couldn’t really hear each other on the course. They say more than 120,000 people came to cheer Eliud on in Vienna, and you could feel the energy from around the world.
Whoever decided to make this second attempt accessible to the public was a genius. Sport can be inspiring and unifying, and this event showcased that wonderfully.
And Eliud? For him, it was a personal goal, but it was so much more. When he talked about it, he talked about inspiring the world and pushing the sport forward. It was about bringing people together, and making the sport he loved better.
No one outside my running community cared about Eliud’s 2:01 — at least not enough to talk to me about it. No one cared about Bekele’s 2:01. But after this, I woke up to several texts from non-running friends. I talked about it at Thanksgiving with people who don’t know how long a marathon is. Eliud was on the front page of the Toronto Star on Sunday morning.
This got people talking about running. That, to me, is ultimately good.
Chicago had everything: a world record, a sprint to the finish, and notable DNFs
The 2019 Chicago marathon was one for the record books. The perfect weather and fast course resulted in PRs for many people, all the way from back of the packers to the best woman in the world.
Brigid Kosgei runs 2:14:04, breaks women’s marathon world record
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei shattered Paula Radcliffe’s marathon world record in Chicago. Readcliffe set the 2:15:15 mark in 2003 and after so many years of no one getting near it, it was beginning to look untouchable.
But then Kosgei, who is only 25 years old and is already establishing herself as one of the greatest marathoners ever, went out at 2:10 pace and held on to the very end.
She ran the whole race alone, with two male pacers, until about the 40K mark.
The dark cloud around this performance is that Kosgei’s agent is Federico Rosa. He’s represented several athletes who have been banned for taking illegal performance enhancers, including Rita Jeptoo, Jemima Sumgong and Asbel Kiprop.
Kosgei has never failed a drug test. But I’ll say the same thing I said last week when I wrote about the Alberto Salazar ban: athletes are ultimately responsible for what they put into their bodies and who they associate themselves with. And if you associate with someone who’s from sketch city, you’re going to have a dark cloud around any result you achieve.
Four of the five American women in the top 10 ran personal bests. Runner’s World has a great article about the strong USA performances.
Natasha Labeaud — the only Canadian in the elite field in either gender — struggled, running 2:45:47 to place 63rd.
The top 10 women were:
Brigid Kosgei (Kenya): 2:14:04
Ababel Yeshaneh (Ethiopia): 2:20:51
Gelete Burka (Ethiopia): 2:20:55
Emma Bates (USA): 2:25:27
Fionnuala McCormack (Ireland): 2:26:47
Stephanie Bruce (USA): 2:27:47
Lindsay Flanagan (USA): 2:28:08
Laura Thweatt (USA): 2:29:06
Lisa Weightman (Australia): 2:29:45
Taylor Ward (USA): 2:30:14
Lawrence Cherono takes the sprint to the finish to win by one second
The men’s race was much, much, much closer than the women’s.
The top four men stuck together until the penultimate turn onto Roosevelt — that’s when there’s pretty much 0.2 miles left. Bedan Karoki was dropped going up the incline, but the other three stuck together until the final turn. With 400 metres left, Lawrence Cherono outsprinted Dejene Debela and Asefa Mengstu to cross the line in 2:05:45, winning by one second.
Cherono also won Boston this year with a dramatic sprint to the finish, besting Lelisa Desisa by two seconds.
Defending champion Mo Farah struggled to a 2:09:58 finish, placing eighth.
Two American men made the top 10, but overall, they had a good day. At Chicago, 10 American men broke 2:12, a barrier that only four Americans haven broken in the past two years. Runner’s World has a good article about this collective breakthrough. The men’s U.S. Olympic trials just got as interesting as the women’s.
Eric Bang was the top Canadian man, placing 46th in 2:19:56.
The top 10 men were:
Lawrence Cherono (Kenya): 2:05:45
Dejene Debela (Ethiopia): 2:05:46
Asefa Mengstu (Ethiopia): 2:05:48
Bedan Karoki (Kenya): 2:05:53
Bashir Abdi (Belgium): 2:06:14
Seifu Tura (Ethiopia): 2:08:35
Dickson Chumba (Kenya): 2:09:11
Mo Farah (Great Britain): 2:09:58
Jacob Riley (USA): 2:10:36
Jerrell Mock (USA): 2:10:37
Jordan Hasay and Galen Rupp both DNF
It was a bad day for the two athletes representing the former Nike Oregon Project. Since last week’s newsletter, Nike announced that the group founded and run by Alberto Salazar would be disbanded.
That left America’s two top marathoners — Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay — without a coach heading into their major fall marathon.
Hasay had previously announced she was going for the American record in Chicago. This was a claim she walked back a bit in the week leading up to the race. She also spoke frankly about her relationship with Salazar with Runner’s World.
She supposedly came to the Chicago start line healthy. But two miles in, disaster struck.
Rupp made it to the 23-mile mark. Chicago was his first race since having surgery after racing Chicago last year. Unlike Hasay, he was cagey in pre-race interviews, saying he wanted to focus on the race. He dropped off the lead pack early and was never a factor, before walking off the course to be attended by the marathon’s medical team.
They say stress is stress is stress and that appears true for even the most elite of runners. Now both Hasay and Rupp need to regroup, find a new coach and get healthy for the American Olympic trials in February 2020.
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is this week!
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is on Sunday, Oct. 20!
Why is this race a big deal?
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon doubles as the Canadian marathon championships.
The top Canadian man and top Canadian woman will be auto-selected to the Olympic team IF they get the Olympic standard. If they don’t get it at Toronto, they have until the qualification window closes on May 31, 2020 to get it. So if the marathon champ gets the standard during that time, Athletics Canada will send them and two other runners. If they don’t, Athletics Canada will choose three runners of each gender who DO have the standard.
There are a bunch of different ways to get the standard, and I outlined them in this post.
Currently, no Canadian men and two Canadian women have the standard: Rachel Cliff and Lyndsay Tessier.
What do they win?
Glory. A chance at an Olympic team spot. An opportunity to be named a national champion.
But also money.
There’s a lot of money on the line, for both Canadian and international runners:
First place overall: $30,000
Second place overall: $15,000
Third place overall: $10,000
Fourth place overall: $6,000
Fifth place overall: $4,000
Sixth place overall: $2,000
If a man breaks the course record and the Canadian soil record (as they are the same): $40,000
If a man breaks the course record, the Canadian soil record and runs under 2:06:30: $50,000 (the above $40,000 + $10,000 more)
If a woman breaks the course record: $40,000
If a woman breaks the course record and the Canadian soil record: $50,000 (the above $40,000 + $10,000 more)
Top Canadian: $8,000
Second Canadian: $3,750
Third Canadian: $1,750
Fourth Canadian: $1,000
Fifth Canadian: $500
These Canadian purses go down if certain time thresholds aren’t met.
If a Canadian breaks the national record: $30,000
Any Canadian that runs the Olympic standard (2:11:30 for men, 2:29:30 for women): $5,000
Canadian men who run sub 2:13 and Canadian women who run sub 2:31: $3,000
Canadian men who run sub 2:14:00 and Canadian women who run sub 2:32: $2,000
Canadian men who run sub 2:15:00 and Canadian women who run sub 2:33: $1,000
These bonus prizes aren’t cumulative. If you run 2:13, you only get $3,000, not $3,000 + $2,000 + $1,000.
This is all in addition to any appearance fees and performance bonuses negotiated with the race and sponsors that aren’t public.
As an example, Cam Levins’ performance last year — Canadian record, top Canadian, fourth place overall, Olympic standard — would net $49,000 in 2019.
Kinsey' Middleton’s 2018 performance — top Canadian, seventh place overall, 2:32 finish time — would net $9,000.
An excellent payday for a stellar race and a decent payday for a solid one. The odds of banking a good cheque on a solid performance are better at this race for Canadians than anywhere else.
How can I watch?
If you’re in Toronto, come cheer with me! I organize a cheer station at the 27K/40K mark near the Cooper Koo YMCA. It’s a good spot because you see everyone twice, including as they are about to charge to the finish, and you have access to the real bathrooms in the Y.
There’s a bunch of cheer zones all over the course, check them out here.
If you’re not in Toronto, you can stream the race on its website and on Facebook.
Top 10 Canadians to watch at Toronto
1. Cam Levins
The Canadian marathon record holder and defending national champion returns for his second attempt at 42.2K. The 30-year-old was supposed to run the London marathon in the spring, but dropped out due to injury.
Cam is a former Nike Oregon Project team member. He ran with NOP from 2013 to 2017 His two former teammates, Galen Rupp and Mo Farah, did not fare well at Chicago, and neither did current NOP member (who never overlapped with Cam) Jordan Hasay.
Current PB: 2:09:25 (Toronto, 2018)
July 7: Edmonton 10K: 30:14, 3rd place
Sept. 15: Philadelphia Rock & Roll half-marathon, DNF
The big question: Can Levins show up injury free and NOP-worry free?
2. Reid Coolsaet
Reid Coolsaet is one of Canada’s greatest marathoners. His biggest opponent these days is time. The two-time Olympian just turned 40, and now has two young children. He’s publicly stated that he’s not going for the time standard at Toronto, but is hoping to have a performance strong enough to earn him enough points to qualify with his world ranking.
Current PB: 2:10:28 (Berlin, 2015)
July 7: Edmonton 10K: 30:15, 4th place
Sept. 15: Philadelphia Rock & Roll half-marathon, 1:05:46, 14th place
Oct. 3: Collingwood 10K, 30:09, 1st place
The big question: Does Reid have one more great performance in him to set himself up to be named to his third Olympic team?
3. Kinsey Middleton
Kinsey Middleton is a dual citizen who currently lives and trains in Idaho with breakout American marathoner Emma Bates. The 26-year-old ran her first and only marathon at Toronto last year, coming away with the national title. She’s a member of the Idaho Distance Project, a new running group coached by Bates’s fiancee that’s making waves already, in part because of Bates’s marathon success.
Current PB: 2:32:09 (Toronto, 2018)
Sept. 14: Vancouver Eastside 10K, 33:15, 2nd place
The big question: Can Kinsey improve enough to be in the Olympic conversation?
4. Malindi Elmore
UPDATE: Elmore has pulled out of the race due to injury.
Malindi Elmore is a middle-distance runner turned triathlete turned elite marathoner. The 38-year-old represented Canada in the 2004 Olympics, running the 1500. She then became a professional triathlete, running the third fastest time at the Ironman distance by a Canadian woman. She made her debut at 42.2K in Houston in January and has been tearing up the Canadian race scene ever since.
Current PB: 2:32:15 (Houston 2019)
June 16: Canadian half-marathon championships, 1:11:06, 1st place
Sept. 14: Vancouver Eastside 10K, 32:34, 1st place
The big question: There’s hype around Elmore, and older runners in general, now. Now that we all know Elmore’s back and in the mix, can she live up to it?
5. Dylan Wykes
Dylan Wykes represented Canada in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics. The 36-year-old missed the Canadian Olympic team in 2016 and shifted his focus to his family and building his coaching business, Mile2Marathon. But after his family moved to Ottawa for his wife’s career, Wykes fell back in love with competitive running and has been having a strong 2019. So he’s tackling 42.2 again.
Current PB: 2:10:47 (Rotterdam, 2012)
June 16: Canadian half-marathon championships, 1:07:36, 4th place
July 20: La Baie Run 10K, 32:06, 3rd place
The big question: Wykes is back and better than he’s been in a long time — but is he good enough to be back in the Olympic team conversation?
6. Trevor Hofbauer
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 after trying a training stint in Guelph.
Current PB: 2:16:48 (Hamburg, 2019)
Aug. 18: Edmonton half-marathon, 1:06:29, 6th place
Sept. 14: Vancouver Eastside 10K, 29:58, 2nd place
The big question: Can Hofbauer make the jump needed to be in the conversation for the Olympics?
7. Evan Esselink
Evan Esselink is from Vancouver, trains with the British Columbia Endurance Project. He spent his NCAA career at Indiana University. 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.
Current PB: N/A
July 7: Edmonton 10K: 29:57, 2nd place
Aug. 18: Edmonton half-marathon, 1:05:07, 1st place
Sept. 14: Vancouver Eastside 10K, 29:50, 1st place
The big question: Can the promise Esselink has shown in the half-marathon transfer to the full?
8. Rory Linkletter
Rory Linkletter holds dual citizenship, but has chosen to run for Canada on the international stage. The 23-year-old was born in Calgary and grew up in Utah. Linkletter just graduated from Brigham Young University and now 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. NAZ Elite has had a breakout 18 months with several top performances, so we will see if that success rubs off on Linkletter.
Current PB: N/A
Aug. 10: PanAm 10,000m, 28:38, 6th place
The big question: What can Linkletter do in his debut?
9. Leslie Sexton
Leslie Sexton is the 2017 Canadian national marathon champion. Her 2:31:51 time in Prague earlier this year is the 13th fastest all-time on the Canadian woman’s marathon list and is the second fastest marathon of 2019, behind Rachel Cliff’s record-setting run in February. The 32-year-old lives and trains in London, Ont.
Current PB: 2:31:51 (Prague, 2019)
Sept. 14: Vancouver Eastside 10K, 33:29, 3rd place
The big question: Sexton is consistent, and consistently improving. But will she get lost in the mix of all these emerging Canadian stars?
10. Dayna Pidhoresky
Dayna Pidhoresky came sixth at the Ottawa marathon earlier this year, one placement off scoring an Olympic standard. 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. The 32-year-old is originally from Ontario but now lives in Vancouver.
Current PB: 2:36:08 (Ottawa, 2017)
June 16: Canadian half-marathon championships, 1:14:03, 2nd place
Aug. 18: Edmonton half-marathon, 1:15:25, 3rd place
Sept. 14: Vancouver Eastside 10K, 34:36, 5th place
The big question: There’s a bit of a gap between the top Canadian marathoners and Pidhoresky — can she close it?
Some notes on the field
The men’s race is a bit more stacked than the women’s, as some of Canada’s top women marathoners put their focus elsewhere this fall: Rachel Cliff — track; Lanni Marchant — getting healthy; Krista DuChene — Berlin; Lyndsay Tessier, Sasha Gollish and Melanie Myrand — world championships. The men’s field is only missing Eric Gillis (who might be done with racing all together) and John W. Mason (who just ran the world championships).
Still, there’s a strong contingent and a chance for someone to have a breakout race.
Top three men: Esselink, Levins, Coolsaet
Top three women: Elmore, Middleton, Sexton
Other Canadian women in the race to watch for include Tarah Korir, Robyn Mildren, Kate Bazeley, Anne-Marie Comeau and Kate Gustafson.
Other Canadian men to watch for include Tristan Woodfine, Aaron Cooper, Thomas Toth, Lee Wesselius, Kevin Coffey and Chris Balestrini.
International elites to watch include two-time winner Philemon Rono of Kenya, defending champion Kenyan Benson Kipruto, Ethiopian siblings Abera Kuma and Dibabe Kuma, Mexican running legend Juan Luis Barrios, American Becky Wade, Kenyan Magdalyne Masai who is targeting 2:22, and Kenyan Ruth Chebitok and Ethiopians Biruktayit Degefa Eshetu and Bekelech Gudeta, who should be right there with Masai to give her a run for the money.
Okay, that’s a wrap on the major event coverage of the week. Now it’s time for a small promotional break.
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Okay, onwards to a roundup of some news and links I felt I couldn’t save for a future newsletter!
Becky Wade shares what a week of Toronto Waterfront Marathon training looks like
Becky Wade, the American elite going for 2:29:30 in Toronto on Sunday, shared what a week of training looks like with Podium Runner:
My road to Toronto started earlier this summer, as I trained and raced my way to marathon fitness after a nice post-Boston break. My schedule featured three 10Ks (Peachtree, Beach to Beacon, and Fortitude), one 7-miler (Falmouth), and one half-marathon (Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia), each separated by two to four weeks of heavy training, which peaked around 110 miles.
The one setback of the buildup was a lower leg issue that surfaced right after Philly (five weeks out from Toronto) and required two weeks of reduced mileage plus a ton of cross-training, several rounds of soft tissue therapy, and an MRI to rule out anything bone-related. Fortunately, the problem was rooted in my calf (not shin, as I feared), and was resolved just in time for me to put the finishing touches on the last several months of hard work.
Melanie Myrand discusses the world championship marathon
If you speak French, Le monde de la course had Melanie Myrand on their video podcast to discuss the world championship marathon.
Myrand was one of three Canadians who took part in the super hot, super humid sufferfest. She placed 27th in a time of 2:57:40.
Lyndsay Tessier discusses the world championships on The Shakeout
Lynsday Tessier was the guest on Canadian Running’s podcast The Shakeout. She talked about the oppressive heat, how her race plan changed when she got to Doha, how the Canadian support team was so awesome, what it was like actually running the race and more.
Tessier, a 41-year-old full-time Grade 3 teacher on her first national team, placed ninth with a time of 2:42:03.
The school Tessier works at gave her a small parade on parent-teacher night after she returned from Doha.
Sasha Gollish drops of out of the New York City marathon
Sasha Gollish’s original fall race plans included an ambitious double: the world championship marathon in Doha, in unprecedented conditions, then possibly the toughest world major marathon, New York City. She wasn’t alone in this plan: American Roberta Groner was also planning to do this double.
Gollish DNFed in Doha at the 25K mark, citing extreme heat exhaustion. After she returned from Doha, she posted on Instagram that she has decided to withdraw from NYC.
This means Gollish only has one more shot at nabbing the Olympic standard: a spring 2020 marathon.
Bruny Surin is getting into politics
Legendary Canadian sprinter Bruny Surin is making a career change. The 52-year-old Canadian 100m co-record holder (he’s tied with Donovan Bailey), Olympic gold medallist (and father of current national team member Kat Surin) is running for city council in Laval, Quebec.
He is running in a by-election taking place on Nov. 24. He’s running for the Mouvement Lavallois party, which is led by Laval’s current mayor Marc Demers.
Most of the coverage of this announcement has been in French, but CBC Sports has a brief English article.
David Mutai wins Quebec City marathon — that’s his sixth marathon win of the year
The Quebec City marathon was held on Sunday. David Mutai won the men’s race in 2:25:31.
That’s the sixth Canadian marathon Mutai has won in 2019.
The Kenyan runner, who now lives and trains in Etobicoke, Ont., has run seven Canadian marathons this year. He won Waterloo (April 28, 2:33:47), Mississauga (May 5, 2:27:08), Manitoba (June 16, 2:27:10), Saskatchewan (May 26, 2:22:09) and Edmonton (Aug. 18, 2:20:07). He also ran the Montreal Rock & Roll marathon in Sept., where he placed fifth in 2:23:46.
The women’s race was won by Carolyn Shaw in 3:05:37.
Donovan Bailey talks to CBC’s Players Own Voice podcast
Donovan Bailey, the greatest Canadian sprinter of all time and now occasional commentator, was on a recent episode of the CBC Sports podcast Players Own Voice. He talks about his 9.84 Olympic gold medal-winning 100m race, how the support of his parents was essential to his success and how his own confidence and self-belief was the key to everything.
Michal Kapral sets second joggling record in as many weeks
Canadian joggler Michal Kapral broke his second world record in as many weeks during his trip to the Maldives. This record was a climbing record: he climbed 2,54 steps while juggling three balls.
Kapral held the old record, which was 600 steps.
Andre De Grasse hosted Thanksgiving for 200 families in Regent Park
Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse spent his Thanksgiving weekend giving back.
He hosted a dinner for 200 families in the low-income neighbourhood of Regent Park in Toronto. Neighbourhood families and up-and-coming Canadian runners that De Grasse sponsors shared a dinner organized by De Grasse’s charity, the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation.
Among the excited crowd of people, who lined up to have their picture taken with the Olympic medallist, was Destiny Emuze and his brother Divine. Fifteen-year-old Destiny Emuze found out last year that De Grasse’s charity was sponsoring his training – something that has changed his life.
“It’s crazy, cause like, you know, he's done so much for me and helped me financially, for my track and field.”
Destiny Emuze lives in Pickering, and while his long stride means he prefers running the 400 and 800 metre events, he likes to emulate his mentor.
“I still like doing 100 metre, 200 metre and I look up to Andre de Grasse and all that stuff and how fast he is, and I’m like ‘I gotta be like that one day.’”
Other up and comers at the Thanksgiving lunch couldn’t believe they were meeting one of Canada’s best sprinters. Nia Groves, 15, couldn’t even remember how her conversation with De Grasse went, but did say meeting him was, “an amazing experience.”
“Since I run track so I look up to him.”
The final kick
That’s it for this week!
Next week: a Toronto Waterfront Marathon recap and probably a round-up of a bunch of evergreen content I’ve been saving for a day when this newsletter isn’t insanely long. Thanks for sticking it out until the end.
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