Gabriela DeBues-Stafford breaks ANOTHER Canadian record

That's four so far in 2019. And Malindi Elmore and Kinsey Middleton are toeing the line at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. And more!

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford breaks another Canadian record

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford has broken her fourth Canadian record in 2019. At the Diamond League meet in Monaco, DeBues-Stafford ran 4:17.87 in the mile to break the 23-year-old mark of 4:23.28 held by Leah Pells.

DeBues-Stafford’s time is the 15th fastest time ever in the world in the outdoor mile. She recapped the race on her Instagram:

"That was the worst race I've ever seen. But you get a pass because you ran a good time." I knew that that was exactly what the boss was going to say after that race. Very all over the place today; my race execution still needs a LOT of work, but the Monaco Magic didn't disappoint, and I forced something together in the last lap. 4:17 - PB, NR, and 3rd place at the Monaco Diamond League @bravelikegabe Mile. Not sure how I let myself fall so far back, that shouldn't have happened, but the race isn't over until you cross the line. So I am happy that I rallied. Thank you to everyone for tuning in, your energy and support 💖 also peep the second photo from the one and only Leah Pells. This message gave me chills. So grateful to be part of a community of amazing Canadian women who lift each other up. @leahpells_counselling thank you for inspiring and elevating a generation of young athletes. 📸:@ufnoof (photo from Pre not Monaco) #LikeaG #FamilyYoung #BraveLikeGabe #nike #justdoit
July 12, 2019

The race was dubbed the “Brave Like Gabe” mile to honour American middle-distance runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald who recently died after a long battle with rare cancer. DeBues-Strafford wrote a touching tribute to Gabe shortly after it was announced she passed.

“I did not know Gabe well, but I am a big fan of hers, and I was incredibly drawn to her radiance and resilience,” she wrote.

The race was also unbelievably fast. DeBues-Stafford placed third overall. Dutch runner Sifan Hassan broke the world record, running 4:12:33. The previous mark of 4:12.56 had stood for 23 years.

Nine runners in the field of 12 set personal bests and four, including DeBues-Stafford, set national records.

DeBues-Stafford has also broke the indoor 5,000m record, the indoor mile record and the outdoor 5,000m record this year. She’s within hundreds of seconds of the 1,500m record too, so expect that to be another one she takes down before the year is out.

You can watch the Diamond League Monaco race below:

Kinsey Middleton and Malindi Elmore to run Toronto Waterfront Marathon

2018 Canadian marathon champion Kinsey Middleton and 2019 breakout Malindi Elmore announced they will be running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20, 2019.

26-year-old Middleton ran her debut at the distance at STWM last year. She crossed the finish line in 2:32:09, winning the national championship.

Middleton lives and trains in Idaho with the Idaho Distance Project alongside American star Emma Bates. Middleton has dual U.S. and Canadian dual citizenship. She grew up in Idaho but her mother is Canadian.

This will be the second time Middleton attempts the marathon distance. Even though her debut was a success, she believes she has a lot to learn.

“The cool thing with my first one is that I walked away thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I could have done so many things differently in training’ and just ways to be better next time,” she said in a Canada Running Series press release.

Her main goal? Make the 2020 Olympic team.

“Since I was a little kid I wanted to run in the Olympics. It would be fulfilling a childhood dream. I don’t want to minimize how difficult it would be, but it would be for sure a dream come true.”

It’s a bit of R and R before the big build to my next marathon @towaterfront42k in Oct. Can’t wait to toe the line with the best and chase some spots for #tokyo2020 #marathontraining #marathon #towaterfront42k photo: Victah Sailer@photorun
July 13, 2019

Elmore has the same goal as Middleton in mind.

Elmore is 39 years old and has previously been to an Olympics. She was once an elite middle-distance runner and represented Canada in the 1,500m in the 2004 Olympics in Rome.

After a successful career, Elmore retired from running in 2012. She started a family and become a competitive triathlete.

But she returned to running and made her marathon debut in January at Houston, running 2:32:17, which put her name into the Canadian elite conversation pretty much immediately.

That wasn’t the plan when she first decided to run a marathon.

“It was a kind of an unconventional build because I had a baby six months earlier and I hadn’t run a whole lot leading into my pregnancy, during my pregnancy, and post-partum. (Houston) wasn’t on the radar until four months before,” Elmore told Canada Running Series.

“On a whim I just said to Graham one day ‘I think I will try a marathon next year.’ So we went home and looked at the calendar and said ‘Oh, there’s one in Houston in January.’”

The return has gone better than expected and Elmore has found her love of running again.

“I was disappointed not to make the 2012 Olympics and ready to move on to other life challenges,” she said. “I took a good long break and have really reinvented myself, finding my love of running again. It’s fun. It would be something I would never have imagined I would be doing again.”

On the men’s side, reigning champ and Canadian marathon record holder Cam Levins previously announced he was returning to STWM for his second attempt at 42.2.

I fully expect a lot more elite Canadians to throw their hats into the STWM ring. Why? Toronto is an IAAF Gold Label race, which means the top five finishers will achieve the qualification standard for the Tokyo Olympics, regardless of finish time.

It is also the Canadian marathon championships, so the top Canadian will be automatically named to the Canadian marathon Olympic team, providing they run the Olympic standard ⁠time, 2:11:30 for men, 2:29:30 for women.

If the Canadian champ does not have the standard upon crossing the finish line, they will have until May 31, 2020 to get it. I explained how the IAAF qualification system and how a Canadian could qualify for the Olympics in this post.

Canada Running Series also announced that any Canadian who runs the standard will receive a $5,000 time bonus, in addition to regular prize money.

Quebec City mosque shooting survivor ran the 2019 Boston marathon

CBC Montreal wrote about this back in May, but I just discovered this story this week, so here it is.

Saïd Akjour was one of the survivors of the 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec City. The 46-year-old was shot in the shoulder. Six people were killed and 19 people, including Akjour, were injured.

Akjour returned to running the following summer and forged a relationship with survivors of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. It was through those connections he was invited to participate in the 2019 edition of the famed race. Three other Quebec City survivors travelled with him and they shared messages of peace in the days before the race.

From CBC Montreal:

The day before the race, the four Quebecers joined thousands of Bostonians out for the long Patriots’ Day weekend, strolling along Boylston Street where the marathon ends.

They held a minute of silence in front of the memorial being built for the 2013 victims, holding up the signs they had brought along, denouncing racism and violence.

The next day, an early morning downpour left fields of mud around the athletes’ village in Hopkinton, on the outskirts of Boston.

Nearly 30,000 runners arrived at the start line, many wearing plastic bags, or whatever they could find, to stay dry.

Akjour was in the last wave and managed to stay out of the rain, which had stopped by the time he started running, just after 11 a.m.

“I can already see the finish line,” he said.

Four hours, 27 minutes and 16 seconds, and 42.2 kilometres later, he was there.

A radio version of this piece also aired on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition. You can listen to that here.

Akjour is also dealing with the trauma from the attack through poetry.

You need to listen to the Road to the Olympic Trials podcast

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is shaping up to be kinda like a small, Canadian version of the United States’ Olympic Trials marathon. In the race, the best American marathons go head-to-head. The top three make the Olympics.

Thanks to the new IAAF rules about qualifying, the American race is a lot murkier than it was before. BUT it’s still going to be a huge deal and one of the greatest, most competitive races ever. It’s going to be a race to watch for running fans across North America.

Combine that with my love of behind the scenes, super process-y podcasts, TV shows, you name it, about the work that goes into anything, it’s safe to say that I am SO VERY EXCITED for this new podcast, Road to the Olympic trials.

Between now and the trials, which take place on Feb. 29, 2020, Road to the Olympic trials will follow eight elite Americans, four men and four women, through their training and preparation for the race. The runners are Jared Ward, Parker Stinson, Lou Serafini, John Raneri, Kellyn Taylor, Roberta Groner, Sarah Bishop and Dr. Stefanie Flippin. It’s a nice mix of heavyweight names, potential breakouts and runners for who just making the trials is a dream come true.

The first two episodes, with Parker Stinson and Roberta Groner, have already dropped.

You can watch a trailer for the podcast below.

Andre De Grasse on balancing sport and fatherhood

Andre De Grasse did a piece with SportNet about how his approach to racing has changed since he became a father in 2018.

The sprinter, who has struggled since his breakout at the 2016 Olympic Games but has bene returning to top form over the summer.

I’m including this link because balancing parenthood and racing is a common topic for articles about female athletes but it’s rarely mentioned about male athletes. I appreciate that De Grasse has been open about his journey as a parent and how it’s making it all work.

This isn’t the first time De Grasse has talked about it, and I hope it’s not the last. Even if it is a sponsored piece — I see you Infinti.

The book to read this week

Two weeks in a row I’m coming at you with a Canadian book!

Light Lifting is a 2010 short story collection by Alexander MacLeod. It has literary cred ⁠— it was nominated for the Giller Prize, the biggest, fanciest book prize we’ve got.

Runners, though, will only care about the first story in the collection. Miracle Mile is about two elite Canadian middle-distance runners preparing for the 1,500m national championship race. The two have known each other since they were kids and are in the twilight of their professional careers — a career where being the best in Canada means basically nothing. No medals internationally. No glory nationally. No money. No security. No life outside running. The piece is one of the most perfect works of fiction to ever look at the life of a not-at-all-famous elite athlete, the lure of the race and how a bond over it can keep two very different people connected for their entire lives.

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running. And if you want to reach out for any reason, you can find me at!