Fall race season has arrived!

Krista DuChene is running Berlin, several Canadians ran tune-up races this week and more.


Fall race season is here, so I have a calendar of events to watch for below.

Krista DuChene announced she’s running Berlin, several Canadians ran tune-up races this week, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon added a big name to their international field and took off another big name in a very weird moment.

The “How to qualify for the Olympic marathon” primer I wrote in March has been getting a lot of traction as we head into fall race season. Thanks to everyone who has shared or read it. It became a bit out of date as Athletics Canada announced their plans and Canadian marathoners announced their races, so I updated it this week. You can check it out here if you haven’t read it yet.

I ran the Terry Fox Run for the first time this weekend. I wrote a bit about Terry Fox in my newsletter last week. My Sunday run group rolled the race into the long run plan. It was surprisingly emotional. There were families running for lost loved loves, a Toronto firefighters team and several groups with custom t-shirts supporting and cheering for each other. I lost it when I was cooling down and a teenage boy who had finished waited for his mom and ran the last 500m with her. He had “running for grandpa” on his shirt and she had “running for dad” on hers.

It’s not timed, there are no fundraising requirements. Show up, run and support however you can.

I made a donation, bought the very cool shirt and made a personal commitment to do the race regularly. You can donate here, if you’d like.

More than 900 runs took place across Canada on Sunday. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $800 million for cancer research since the first run in 1981.

Fall race season is here!

Mark your calendars for the big fall race events. I’ll do bigger previews in the newsletters that come out the Monday before each race, but here’s the highlight reel to get you pumped.

The world track & field championships take place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar. Athletics Canada announced the full Canadian team at the end of August. All the track events will take place in an air conditioned stadium, but the marathon will be run at midnight to avoid the worst of the heat.

The Berlin marathon is on Sunday, Sept. 29. The only notable Canadian in the field is Krista DuChene (more on that below). The race overall is wide open as defending champion Eliud Kipchoge is bypassing an attempt at defending his title to go for a sub 2:00 marathon for the INEOS 1:59 challenge.

The INEOS 1:59 challenge is a project giving Kipchoge a second attempt at breaking the 2:00 marathon barrier. The race is set for Oct. 12 in Vienna, but there is a contingency plan in place for weather and the race could take place any time up until Oct. 20.

→ The Chicago marathon is on Oct. 13. The only notable Canadian in the race is Natasha Labeaud. The men’s race is shaping up to be Mo Farah versus Galen Rupp again, while on the women’s side, the big story will be whether Jordan Hasay can take down Deena Kastor’s American marathon record.

→ The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is on Oct. 20. The Canadian field is STACKED, pretty much every name in Canadian running who isn’t running one of the other races on this list will be running this race. The top Canadian man and top Canadian woman will automatically get invited to the Olympic team, providing they secure the standard before the qualifying window. The international field is looking strong too, it’s highly likely we will see the Canadian soil record be broken, providing the weather cooperates.

→ The New York City marathon is on Nov. 3. The only elite Canadian is Sasha Gollish, who is also running the marathon at the world championships in Sept. NYC always brings a memorable race: Shalane Flanagan in 2017, the INCREDIBLE sprint to the finish in last year’s men’s race, Mary Keitany putting on a clinic last year.

Krista DuChene to run Berlin marathon

"And onward I go, again." @kristaduchene to run the @berlinmarathon, the Marathon Mom on her training, her race plan, and her recipe for longevity (and grace). #RunForGood #hydrate #recover #AmplifyAwesome #PursueYourThrill #TeamTap #FuelSimply #StokedOatsAthlete #FuelTheFireWithin #RollRiver #MarathonMom #RegisteredDietitian #Olympian #Masters Link in bio. Photo: @edison2176
September 14, 2019

In an essay for iRun, Krista DuChene has announced that she will be running the Berlin marathon this year. The big reason, she writes, that she’s doing Berlin and not her beloved Toronto, is that it meant she could build for Berlin or the world championship team, should she be selected, without changing too much in her schedule and life.

From the essay:

Both would be the last weekend of September and an early fall marathon was better for me because of my commitment to coaching my daughter’s rep hockey team. I found that I was pretty tired out last year after training in the morning and leading practices in the evenings. World Champs in Doha and Berlin were great marathon possibilities and if given the choice, I wasn’t sure which I would choose. Eventually, I knew my chances of World Champs remained slim. I’m thrilled that we have so many fast Canadian women in the marathon. And because I didn’t want to leave the logistics of Berlin so close to the race date, I decided on Germany over Qatar.

Last year, Canadian Rachel Cliff finished 11th place in her marathon debut, running 2:28:53 . Cliff’s run was the fastest debut marathon ever by a Canadian woman. Lyndsay Tessier ran 2:30.47 to finish 12th overall and break the Canadian masters marathon record.

Tessier is running the world championship marathon for Canada this fall and Cliff, who is the only Canadian with the Olympic marathon qualifying standard, is not doing a fall marathon.

DuChene’s best world major finish was Boston 2018, when she placed third is what was almost a hurricane.

The 2019 Berlin marathon is on Sept. 29. It will be DuChene’s 19th marathon.

Malindi Elmore breaks course record at Eastside 10K, Evan Esselink wins men’s race

Malindi Elmore crushed the course record at the Vancouver East Side 10K on Saturday, Sept. 14. Her time of 32:44 was 20 seconds faster than the record Natasha Wodak set in 2015.

“I am shocked to run a road 10 km PB today on a hilly course in the middle of marathon training,” Elmore wrote on Twitter. “I guess strength is speed.... thanks team for a great race and congrats all runners.”

Kinsey Middleton was the second Canadian across the line, running 33:19. Leslie Sexton was third in 33:33.

Several Canadians were using the 10K race as a tune-up for their fall marathon.

Elmore came out of nowhere in January to become a contender to make Canada’s Olympic marathon team this year. She ran the 1,500m in the 2004 Olympics, then took 15 years off to have a family and focus on triathlons. Now she’s back and better than ever.

Her next big race is the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20.

Middleton and Sexton are also in the Canadian elite field at Toronto.

In the men’s race, Evan Esselink broke the tape in 29:50, edging out Trevor Hofbauer by eight seconds. Ben Preisner took third in 30:10.

Esselink will be making his marathon debut at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20.

Trevor Hofbauer, who was the Canadian marathon champion in 2017, is also running that race.

Sasha Gollish ran Great North Run half-marathon, where Brigid Kosgei ran the fastest-ever half-marathon by a woman

Sasha Gollish took part in the Great North Run in the U.K., which is the largest half-marathon in the world.

Gollish ran 1:16:15, which is more than five minutes slower than her PB at the distance.

Gollish is training for a double marathon season: she will be running the world championship marathon in Qatar, then will be lining up at the New York City marathon on Nov. 3. Both races give Gollish a chance to qualify for the Olympics: top 10 at both races count at the standard.

Earlier this month, Gollish shared what she keeps in her race day bag with Canadian Running.

The big story from the Great North Run is Kenyan Brigid Kosgei ran 1:04:28, breaking the course record.

The time is also faster than the half-marathon world record, but it doesn’t count at the Great North Run isn’t a ratified course. Why? IAAF explained in a tweet:

Kosgei, who won the 2018 Chicago marathon and the 2019 London marathon, is one of the most best marathoners running right now. She’s returning to Chicago this fall to defend her title.

Iconic British runner Mo Farah won the men’s race for the fifth time. Farah is also returning to Chicago to defend his title this fall.

Geoffrey Kamworor breaks world half-marathon record

Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor broke the world half-marathon record in Copenhagen. His time of 58:01 is 17 seconds faster than the previous record, which was set just this past April. He broke away from the pack just after 5K and ran his way to victory.

“It is very emotional for me to set this record,” he said to IAAF after the race. “And doing it in Copenhagen, where I won my first world title, adds something to it.”

Kamworor, who trains with Eliud Kipchoge, is running the NYC marathon on Nov. 3. He won the race in 2017 and was part of the amazing three-man race to the finish in last year’s race, which produced the second, third and fourth fastest times ever run at NYC.

Reid Coolsaet run 65:46 at Rock & Roll Philly half-marathon

65:46 today at #RnRPhilly Half. Although my result was about 90 seconds slower than I was targeting I’m happy considering the hot/humid conditions. I couldn’t believe how good I was feeling through 12km, and then the heat started taking its toll and my pace slowed. The course is fast and the race was a lot of fun. I recommend trying this race and checking out Philadelphia. .

Glad to have this effort heading into @towaterfront42k in 5 weeks.
#TeamNB #fuelsimply
September 15, 2019

Reid Coolsaet ran the Rock & Roll Philadelphia half-marathon this weekend as a tune-up race. He ran 65:46, good for 14th place. The time was about 90 seconds off of his goal, but according to his Instagram, that was OK because it was quite hot and humid.

Coolsaet is one of many Canadians training for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where he hopes to run a time good enough to qualify for the Olympic via points. He thinks 2:12 or 2:13 should be good enough.

Running in Canada profiled Coolsaet and fellow marathon vet Dylan Wykes this week:

Regardless of time, Coolsaet rightfully reminded me that the marathon is ultimately about the process. “I want to run to my potential and be happy with my effort, he said. It would mean a lot to have a marathon performance I’m really excited about as it’s been a few years since that has happened.”

So why STWM for Coolsaet? “I’ve had success at STWM in the past and I know the course really well. It’s hard to pass up a Gold Label race in your backyard. And the obvious reason is that the Canadian Champ gets a big advantage when it comes to Olympic selection.”

Natasha Wodak reflects on her only marathon

How I felt in today’s big track sesh at altitude!😬
I went out a bit too hard on my first interval and consequently suffered through the rest of the WO. But hit my paces & got it done. Just wasn’t an enjoyable way to do it! Always learning... GOTTA RESPECT THE ALTITUDE!
#3weekstillworldchamps #roadtodoha #stmoritz #altitudetraining #teamcanada #bebrave #nikecanada
September 7, 2019

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is turning 30 this year and to celebrate they are looking back on big moments in the race’s history.

Natasha Wodak ran her first (and so far only) marathon there in 2013, and Canada Running Series talked to her about the experience.

2013 was the year Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene both broke the 28-year-old Canadian marathon record, so Wodak’s debut run of 2:35 was slightly overlooked. And Wodak realized the distance wasn’t for her going forward.

But, as Wodak looks back, it was an important stepping stone to the career she’s having now — she’s had a hell of a 2019 and is looking to be in the best shape of her life as we head into the 2020 Olympics.

From the story:

The self-proclaimed fierce and passionate runner was honest with herself following the marathon. “I missed being on the track. I love racing and you don’t get to do that much when your focus is on the marathon,” Natasha admits. She left the marathon behind, but took the toughness and resilience she picked up in training forward with her. “I love racing and you don’t get to do that much when you’re focusing on the marathon,” Natasha adds.

With all the lore and prestige of the marathon and the pressure that must have come with an impressive debut, Natasha did something that many might have found impossible and stayed true to herself.

Was the experience worth it? “100 per cent!” Natasha exclaims. “I remember crying at the finish line out or relief that I managed to get through that build,” Natasha recalls. She executed the game plan and even posted the fastest final kilometre among the women’s field. “You have to do the things that scare you. When you’re done, you’re just like, ‘Wow!’”

Up next for Wodak is the 10,000m at the world championships.

The best joggler in the world is Canadian

Continuing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 30th anniversary celebrations, Canada Running Series profiled joggler Michal Kapral.

Kapral owns the world record for fastest marathon and half-marathon while juggling. He set the marathon record at Toronto in 2007, when he ran 2:50:12. He also set the half-marathon record in Toronto, in 2014, when he ran 1:20:40.

In 2016, he ran the Chicago marathon while joggling in 2:55. It was the first time he completed a marathon without dropping a single ball.

From the article:

To those who might ask Kapral the basic question of “Why?” his response would be, “I’ve always liked to do things that are different and that’s followed me most of my life. I don’t really like to grow up. I do serious things in my life, but I like to keep that kid inside me alive.”

Dylan Wykes is ready to take on the marathon again

Dylan Wykes, who represented Canada in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics, is coming back to the marathon. He’s one of the many Canadians lining up at Toronto in Oct. with an Olympic berth on his mind. Toronto is shaping up to be interesting, as it’s very old guard (Wykes and Coolsaet are two of Canada’s most accomplished marathoners) versus new guard (Evan Esselink and Rory Linkletter are making their debuts and young runners like Trevor Hofbauer and Tristan Woodfine still have their best years ahead of them).

Wykes 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.

Canada Running Series spoke to Wykes about his comeback:

He wants to finish as high up among the Canadian racers as possible. While he is reluctant to admit it, the idea of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is knocking at the back of his mind. “I would love to make another Olympic team. I won’t deny saying that.”

But Wykes isn’t sure he’s quite ready to hit the Olympic standard yet, and even if he was, this whole comeback is about avoiding pressure and enjoying the process. “I’ve tried to go about the last year or so without putting many expectations on myself and just enjoy the process as they say. It’s been something where I’ve really enjoyed…I don’t know what you’d call it, this last phase of my competitive running career.”

Running in Canada also profiled Wykes, alongside fellow vet Reid Coolsaet:

Since March 2019 however, Wykes’ record has been impressive. He finished 3rd at Around the Bay, won the Ottawa Sporting Life 10k, won the Canadian 10k Championships, and finished 4th at the Canadian Half Marathon Champs. He said that these results helped to push him towards taking the start line in Toronto: “I wanted to carry that momentum into the fall and trying the marathon again made sense. … I’m more excited about racing for place than chasing a time at this stage of the game.”

On racing with Coolsaet again, Wykes is excited: “It’ll be great to have some old friends and familiar faces in the race. If we find ourselves near to each other when the going gets tough in the late stages of the race I’m sure we’ll work hard to pull/push each other along.”

Lemi Berhanu to run Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Lemi Berhanu Hayle is the latest edition to a strong international field at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

The 25-year-old Ethiopian boasts a PB of 2:04:33 and won the 2016 Boston marathon.

He wants to go for the course record, which is 2:06:52. The course record was set by Philemon Rono in 2017.

Breaking the course record comes with a $40,000 bonus.

“My target is to have the course record time and of course to win the race,” he said in a press statement.

He’s asking the pacers to run the first half in 1:03 and, at least according to the press release, he’s a fan of the race:

“I always watch the (Scotiabank) Toronto Marathon on television. I have never missed
(watching) the race every year. I heard some of the things about the race from my teammates; that the course and the weather is good.”

Hayle is joining fellow international runners Abera Kuma, Festus Talam, Philemon Rono and Benson Kipruto on the Toronto start line.

Tigist Girma agrees, then pulls out of Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Earlier this month it was announced that Ethopia’s Tigist Girma, who won the 2019 Ottawa Marathon, would be running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She would be joining an impressive women’s international field, with Magdalyne Masai, Belaynesh Oljira and Bruktayit Eshetu Degefa all previously announced.

Then, weirdly, this week it was announced she would not be running after all. Elites scratching races is a normal thing — injuries happen, training gets sidelined, etc. — but the reason given for this scratch is bizarre. According to a statement released by Canada Running Series, Girma’s husband didn’t think Toronto was fast enough for her, so she was withdrawing from the race.

Uh, what?

Girma’s PB is 2:26:34.

The Toronto course record is 2:22:29, which was set by Mimi Belete last year.

The other international elites have PBs of 2:21:53 (Oljira), 2:23:28 (Degefa) and 2:26:02 (Masai).

Unless Girma has gotten way way way faster since May, this math doesn’t add up. And even if she goes and runs 2:20 this fall (which is unlikely, that’s a huge jump to make in a single year), it’s a bad move because of politics. No race director with any integrity is going to accept an athlete that publicly broke a contract because the race — which is an IAAF Gold Label race — is supposedly too slow.

The Japanese Olympic marathon trials might have been the most insane marathon ever

The Japanese marathon trials took place over the weekend. It was possibly the hardest marathon to ever qualify for. Men had to run a race under 2:08:30 or have two races in average a finish time under 2:11 to get in. Women had to run a race under 2:24:00 or have two races average a finish time under 2:28: to get in.

As a result only 30 men and 10 women qualified.

For context, if this were the requirements for a Canadian marathon trials, Rachel Cliff would be the only person who qualified, thanks to her 2:28:53 Berlin time and her 2:26:56 Nagoya finish time.

If these were the requirements for the American marathon trials, only one man (Galen Rupp) and six women (Jordan Hasay, Amy Cragg, Emily Sisson, Sara Hall, Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle) would have qualified. Currently, the American trials, which will be run on Feb. 29, 2020, more than 300 women and nearly 200 men have already qualified.

Japan Running News did an amazing break down of the qualified athletes.

Let’s Run also did a great primer for those not familiar with the Japanese running scene.

The race used the same course the Olympics will use in 2020.

The top two finishers were automatically named to the team. The third place finisher was provisionally named to the team — if a man runs faster than 2:05:50, which is the current Japanese record, or a woman runs 2:22:23 before the qualifying window closes at a Japanese race, they will nab the third sport, kicking the third place trials finisher off the team.

The men’s race was clooooose, with nine runners all still in contention with less than 5K to go. In the end, Shogo Nakamura (placed 4th at Berlin in 2018) won in 2:11:28. Second place went to Yuma Hattori in 2:11:36 and Suguru Osako (current Japanese record holder) came third in 2:11:41.

On the women’s side, Honami Maeda won in dominant fashion, breaking away early and closing in 2:25:16. Second place went to Ayuko Suzuki, who crossed the finish line in 2:29:02 and third place was Rei Ohara in 2:29:06.

Let’s Run has a great recap of the race, if you want to check it out.

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford nominated for Canadian performance of the year

2019 has been A YEAR for Canadian sports. CBC Sports is having a vote for Canadian performance of the year, which is an award that recognizes “the most extraordinary moment in sport in a single international event.”

The contenders are:

  • Runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who broke seven Canadian records in 2019, and became the first Canadian woman to run under 4:00 for the 1,500m.

  • Tennis player Bianca Andreescu, who made history as the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. She also won the Rogers Cup this summer. Both victories were against the GOAT, Serena Williams.

  • Golfer Brooke Henderson, who has become the winningest Canadian golder ever and notched two titles and nine top 10 finishes this year.

  • Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, who became the first Canadian team to win the beach volleyball world championships.

  • The Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team, who won gold at the Parapan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

  • Snowboarder Max Parrot, who won gold in big air at the X Games only months after being declared cancer-free.

You can cast your vote here.

Dunno why the Raptors aren’t here, but I guess it’s because only Chris Boucher is Canadian?

I think Bianca is going to win, but it’s very cool to see so many strong Canadian performances across so many different sports!

That’s it for this week. Next week’s issue will have a preview of the Berlin marathon. See you then!

If you want to reach out for any reason, you can email me at runthenorthnews@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading and keep on running!