Gabriela DeBues-Stafford is the queen of Canadian running

The Canadian world championship team was announced this week, I saw Brittany Runs a Marathon and more!


This week’s issue is jam-packed! Athletics Canada revealed the world championship team, the ParapanAm Games took place in Peru, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford became the first Canadian woman is run sub 4:00 in the 1,500m, I saw Brittany Runs a Marathon and round up some media about the movie and share some more links and stories from the running world I think are worth checking out.

On a personal note, it was my 35th birthday this past week. I ran a race with my sisters the Sunday before, and celebrated with friends the Sunday after. Almost everyone who was there on Sunday was someone I met because of running. As I did a ton of reflection this past week, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much running has given me outside, well, actual running. The relationship I have with my sisters is stronger, many of those friends are among my closest and most valued. During a period where I’m struggling to find my “why” with running after a disappointing marathon result and a too-long break from proper training, it was a good reminder that running is about more than my splits, total mileage and PBs. It’s about finding connection: with yourself, with others and within your community.

If you want to reach out for any reason — offer feedback, send a story or link you think I should share or just say hi — you can reach me at

Thanks for reading and keep on running!

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford runs 3:59.59 in 1,500m, placed 3rd in Diamond League final

THIRD at the Diamond league final and sub. F*cking. Four. We did it!

I'm just speechless. I was so pleased with my race execution that I didn't realize for a while that I had broken 4. Absolutely overwhelmed. Too many people to thank, but thank you to everyone who has helped me get here. Thank you all so much for your kind and wonderful messages. Thank you to all those who told me when I was up and coming that I'd be the one to do this first for Canadians. Thank you for believing in me. Crying a little bit as I write this. GOD WHAT A SAP AM I EH? #LikeaG #FamilyYoung #nike #justdoit #ZurichDL #DiamondLeague #DLFinal
August 29, 2019

At the Diamond League final in Zurich on Aug. 29, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford placed third and ran 3:59.59 in the 1,500m. She broke her own Canadian record and became the first Canadian woman to run below 4:00.

DeBues-Stafford is having an insane 2019. She’s broken five different Canadian records — six if you count her breaking the 1,500m record twice.

Stafford was beat by Dutch runner Sifan Hassan, who ran 3:57.08, and German Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who 3:59.02. DeBues-Stafford felt she executed a stellar race, and on Instagram (above) said she didn’t even realize her time for a while.

You can watch the race below — DeBues-Stafford executes a killer kick to take third:

Running in Canada has a great recap of DeBues-Stafford’s remarkable race, year and looks at her changes at worlds:

Heading onto the last lap, it looked improbable. After a quick start, the field had slowed to what many commentators would call a jog. Four athletes were cued up on the heels of Genzebe Dibaba. In the group was Sifan Hassan, Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Canadian Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, and American superstar, Jenny Simpson. At the bell, the pace rose. Incrementally athletes begin the fall of the pack. Then, as they rounded the final turn, Hassan found a new gear. She drove by the others with remarkable speed. Klosterhalfen tried to follow, but simply did not have the legs. Dibaba was spent, fading quickly into the field. But DeDues-Stafford charged after the others with remarkable turnover. In the end, Hassan crossed the line in 3:57 – a remarkable time. Klosterhalfen came in soon after. But right on her heels was the Canadian, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, crossing the line in 3:59.59: a new Canadian record. Her last lap clocked in, according to my watch, at about 59.7 seconds.

CBC Sports has a great sponsored piece about DeBues-Stafford’s journey to this breakthrough. She struggled after her mom died and decided to move to Scotland to train with British runner Laura Muir and her coach. The move has paid off:

"Last year, my race nerves were out of control and taking away from the enjoyment of running," DeBues-Stafford told CBC Sports before the race.

"I was lost and unclear about what the future held for me, but I have recommitted myself to the sport and training seriously at a high level. I'm also not as timid making moves [in a race] and not second-guessing."

DeBues-Stafford will run the 5,000m at the next Diamond League final in Brussels on Sept. 6. After that are the world championships, where she will run both the 1,500m and the 5,00m.

I have more on the rest of the worlds team below, so keep reading!

Brandon McBride places third in 800m Diamond League final

This time last year , I watched the diamond league final from the stands. Tonight, I lined up in my first diamond league final with the best in the world came third 🥉. My 4th 143 of the year, and my second fastest time ever. Still far from satisfied. Time to get in this training block and hit world championships in Doha. Thank you for all the messages and support. 🙏🏾🇨🇦
August 29, 2019

Brandon McBride took third place in the 800m at the Diamond League final. He ran 1:43.51. He was beat by U.S. runner Donavan Brazier, who ran 1:42.70, and Botswana’s Nijel Amos, who ran 1:42.98.

McBride, who is the Canadian record holder at the distance, was pleased with the result, but knows he has more in him. It was his second-fastest 800m ever, and a huge step forward from last year when he failed to make the Diamond League final.

McBride will also named to the world championship team.

You can watch the race below:

Part two of the Diamond League final takes place on Sept. 6 in Brussels. I’ll have those results for you next week.

Canada wins five Parapan Am Games track medals

The Parapan Am Games took place Aug. 23 to Sept. 1. Canada took home 60 medals in total, with five of them from track and racing events.

Canada went 1-2 in the T37/38 1,500m: Nathan Reichs won gold and Liam Stanley won silver. The T37/38 classification is for athletes with coordination or ambulatory impairments. Stanley also won bronze in the T38 400m.

I’ve written about Reichs before, he’s the world-record holder in this event. An accident with a gold ball when he was 10-years-old changed the course of his life. But he’s now one of the best pararunners in the world. This National Post profile is worth reading:

He keeps a gruelling schedule of hours of foam rolling and stretching daily. His rewired brain has to work significantly harder than able-bodied athletes, almost like a rowing eight crew that’s missing a few oarsmen. His brain works so hard to run, his mom said, that it takes him twice as long as an able-bodied athlete to recover.

“I notice it the most in the last lap of a race,” Reich explained. “When I set the 1,500 world record, with 50 metres left I thought I was going down. All of a sudden my hip stopped working, and my arms were flailing.

“Because I have a hole in my head, most people don’t have to think about using the right side of their body, but I have to tell the right side of my body to move, especially my arm, I have to say “use it, use it, use it.” And then late in the race, you don’t want to think about that, you want to be naturally doing it. But I have to constantly think about getting my hip up and driving my knee.”

The National Post also wrote a profile about Stanley after his performance at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. His original goal was to play parasoccer for Canada, but when Canada didn’t qualify, he decided to give track a try. It was a good move:

Liam Stanley was a promising runner, but an outstanding soccer player. And his goal was to get Canada’s para-soccer team to the Rio Paralympics.

Track coach Bruce Deacon made him a deal. Focus on soccer, and if the team didn’t qualify for Brazil, start training for track.

And on Sunday, the 19-year-old from Victoria chased Irish veteran Michael McKillop over 1,500 metres to claim silver in a stunning Paralympic debut.

“What a thrill,” Deacon marvelled. “Quite amazing.”

Guillaume Ouellet took home gold in the T13 5,000m. T13 is a classification for vision impairment. He ran 15:08.58 to defeat Sixto Roman Moreta from Ecuador and Jacques Francisco Ortega from Brazil. Ouellet was the event’s defending champion, he also holds the meet record for this event. CBC Sports has video highlights of his race. There isn’t much by way of media coverage out there about Ouellett, but if you can read French, this article is worth a look.

Zachary Gingras won silver in the T38 400m. The Parapan Am Games were the first senior games for Gingras, who was the world junior champion in the 800m in 2017. He also won the 800m at the Cerebral Palsy Games in 2018.

Athletics Canada revealed world track & field team

49 athletes were named to the Canadian world championship track & field team. The world championships will take place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar.

The track events will be held inside an air-conditioned stadium, but the marathon will be run at midnight in order to avoid the worst of the heat.

Five marathoners were named to the team. John W. Mason and Lyndsay Tessier were previously announced. Joining them are Melanie Myrand, Sasha Gollish and Berhanu Degefa.

Myrand made her marathon debut in Chicago last year. She bettered her 42.2 mark in Rotterdam this year, 2:33:17.

Excited to announce that I will be running the marathon at the IAAF World Championships. Been sitting, hoping, wishing for this! No scratch that. I’ve been running, working and training as if I’m going to DOHA not because I assumed I would be selected or think I’m deserving of it but because that’s what we runners do. We train for the unknown, we train for a start line we may never get to, we take calculated risks, we train for goals that might not be realized, ultimately to find out what we are made of and to push ourselves in every way possible. So no I haven’t been sitting and hoping, I’ve been putting in the work and planning for this race but yes I’ve been wishing. Wishing because this runners dream of making a world team came true. I’ll be running with my hubby, family, friends, teammates and coach in my heart because this dream wouldn’t be possible without each and every one of you! WE DID IT ❤️
August 30, 2019

Gollish made her debut at the 42.2 distance this year in Houston. She is also running the NYC marathon, which is only a few weeks after worlds. It’s a tight turnaround but I know that American marathoner Roberta Groner is doing the same thing.

Degefa ran his first marathon earlier this year as well, clocking a 2:14:50 at the Daegu International Marathon.

Natasha Wodak is running the 10,000m. She’s coming off winning the PanAm Gold medal and setting a Games record in that distance. She was named to the worlds team earlier this year, after she won the 10,000m Canadian championships.

Also running the 10,000m is Mohammed Ahmed. Ahmed will be pulling the double and running the 5,000m too. Ahmed is the Canadian record holder at both distances. He broke his own 5,000m record earlier this year, running 12:58.16 to become the first Canadian to run under 13 minutes at the distance.

Joining Ahmed in the 5,000m is Justyn Knight. The twosome placed 1-2 at the Canadian championships earlier this summer.

Three Canadian women are running the 5,000m: Jessica O’Connell, Andrea Seccafien and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford.

O’Connell is the Canadian 5,000m champion, won a silver medal in the 5,000m at the PanAm Games and broke the Canadian 3,000m indoor record earlier this year. Seccafien came second to O’Connell at nationals.

As mentioned above, DeBues-Stafford will also be running the 1,500m.

Also mentioned above was that Brandon McBride was running the 800m. Joining him is Marco Arop.

Officially selected to represent Canada at the World Championships! •

#Track #Field #Athletics #Canada #800m #IAAF #Worlds #Doha #Qatar #hailstate #blessed
August 31, 2019

Arop just won gold in the distance at the PanAm Games. McBride and Arop finished 1-2 at the Canadian championships earlier this summer.

Lindsey Butterworth is the lone Canadian woman running the 800m. The 2019 Canadian champ, Madeleine Kelly, didn’t have the standard and 800m icon Melissa Bishop recently ended her season due to injury. Butterworth won the Canadian championship last year.

Canada is sending a full roster in the steeplechase: Canadian record holder and reigning champion Geneviève Lalonde, 2016 Olympian Maria Bernard, Regan Yee, Canadian champ Matthew Hughes, and two young runners who have had breakout years, Ryan Smeeton and John Gay.

Canada is sending three racewalkers: Evan Dunfee, Mathieu Bilodeau and Rachel Seaman. The racewalk team was previously announced and I wrote profiles of all three of these athletes in an earlier newsletter — you can read it here.

Two decathletes have been named to the team: Damian Warner, who is one of the best in the world in the event and Pierce LePage, who is a rapidly rising star the the sport. Warner took home gold at the PanAm Games and LePage took home bronze.

Phylicia George will be competing in the 100m hurdles and PanAm champion Sage Watson will run the 400m hurdles.

Watson is also on the 4x400m relay and 4x400m mixed relay teams.

Joining her on both teams are Alicia Brown, Maya Stephens and Katherine-Jessica Surin.

Running both the relays and the 400m are Madeline Price and Aiyanna Stiverne.

Finally get to announce that I’ve been selected for my third world championship team @iaafdoha2019 🤩 Excited to represent Canada for the third time this year 🇨🇦
August 30, 2019

Stiverne and Watson were both on the 4x400 relay team that won silver at the PanAm Games.

Stephens, Price, Brown and Watson placed fourth at the IAAF relay championships in this event earlier this year.

The men running the 4x400 mixed relay are Austin Cole and Graeme Thompson.

Philip Osei is also running the mixed relay as well as the 400m. Osei won the 400m national championship this summer.

Officially named to the Represent @teamcanada at the @iaaf_athletics Championships in Qatar Doha in a few weeks!... emotionally, spiritually and mentally this has been the toughest, if you know me then you know I’ve been dealing with things you cannot imagine, thankful to Everyone whose been there for me and supported me through this journey, thankful to those who were there and gave me the space to work through it but continued to pray for me In my time of solitude,you are apart of this, this is only the beginning 🖤💪🏾
September 1, 2019

The men’s 4x100 relay team consists of Jerome Blake, Bismark Boateng, Gavin Smellie, Brendon Rodney, Aaron Brown and Andre De Grasse.

Brown and De Grasse are both running the 100m and the 200m. Brown is the reigning Canadian champ in both events — he jusssst beat De Grasse in the 100m, and De GRasse did not compete in the 200m.

Rodney is joining them in the 200m.

Crystal Emmanuel is running the 100m and the 200m. Emmanuel is the 100m national champ, but withdrew from the 200m even this year.

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Canadian elite Natasha Labeaud running Chicago marathon

The Chicago marathon announced their international elite field this week and one Canadian is on the list: 32-year-old Natasha Labeaud.

Labeaud lives in San Diego. She holds dual Canadian and American citizenship. She ran for Georgetown University in her college years. She previously represented Canada in 2015, when she ran in the IAAF cross-country world championships. According to her bio, she’s the founder of the non-profit 2nd Recess, has a masters degree in journalism and a PhD in public health.

Labeaud’s personal best in the marathon is 2:35:33, which she ran at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2014.

According to Canadian Running, Labeaud has top 10 (which would be an Olympic qualifying run) in mind in Chicago:

“The big goal for the race is to be top ten. I’ve also had the 2:29 Olympic standard written down as a time goal. I’ve had my eyes on the Olympic rings since I was young and my sights are still set there. There are ups and downs and the Olympics is a big goal, but it’s certainly on my radar heading into Chicago.”

She has a decent shot, as Chicago has a relatively weak elite women’s field compared to other world majors.

For context, last year Canadian Melanie Myrand ran 2:34:08 to finish ninth.

Other notable runners taking on Chicago this year are defending champ and 2019 London marathon winner Brigid Kosgei, Americans Stephanie Bruce and Jordan Hasay (Hasay has stated she’s going after the American marathon record), and U.K. standout Alice Wright is making her debut at the distance.

The men’s side is much more competitive. 2019 will have a showdown between Brit Mo Farah and American Galen Rupp, just like last year, alongside five men who have run under 2:05: Getaneh Molla, Herpasa Negasa, Lawrence Cherono, Dickson Chumba and Hassan El Abbassi.

The 2019 Chicago marathon takes place on Oct. 13.

Silvia Ruegger in iRun

I could not for the life of me find the 2017 iRun Silvia Ruegger profile online last week. I knew it existed somewhere. Thanks to the Fast Women newsletter, I found it on Medium. I wrote a bigger obit for the long-time Canadian marathon record holder last week, but this profile is worth reading. It covers her post-running life, including relationship with God and her battle with cancer:

After her eighth-place finish at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the year the women’s marathon debuted, and winning the 1985 Houston Marathon, Silvia officially retired from long-distance running in 1996. In addition to a full-time job at Brooks, she turned her energies toward children from low-resource neighbourhoods by creating literacy and running programs in Ontario and then across the country. “Physical activity enhances learning, memory and clarity of thought,” Ruegger told the National Post in 2012. “It’s a pathway of hope. Let’s tell these children that we believe in them, and that they’ve got what it takes.”

(Here’s a plug to subscribe to Fast Women! The weekly newsletter does an amazing job of covering elite women running, including notable Canadian performances and news. This plug is not sponsored at all, I just read it every week and appreciate it so much. I think you would too.)

The real winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon, Canadian Jacqueline Gareau, has a moment in the spotlight in the wake of Rosie Ruiz’s death

Rosie Ruiz, the runner best known for cheating at the 1980 Boston marathon and claiming victory, only to be caught eight days later, died recently. She was 66 years old.

In the wake of Ruiz’s death, the National Post did a Q&A with the race’s real winner, Canadian Jacqueline Gareau.

Gareau was 27 years old at the time and ran the then-fastest Boston marathon time by a woman. But she didn’t get to don the laurels or have her name published everywhere.

Instead, when people think of the 1980 Boston marathon, they think of Rosie, the cheater, and not the French Canadian woman who remains the only Canadian woman to win the Boston Marathon. (11 different Canadian men have won Boston, for a total of 16 victories overall, the most recent being Jerome Drayton in 1977).

From the National Post piece:

Q: Rosie Ruiz was a big part of your story — what were you thinking and feeling when you heard about her death?

A: I felt some sadness. It’s sad, the way it happened for her — I’m sure it affects you, when you do something like that. She never admitted it. Maybe it would have been better if she had. But maybe she believes that she really did (run the whole marathon).

I put a post on my wall on Facebook because, you know, (Ruiz) was part of my life. I didn’t talk about what she did in Boston. It was mostly about her life: She studied music. She had a family. She took care of a kid — I don’t know if it was her kid or her husband’s kid. But she had lots of love. She was a great person in some aspects of her life. Everybody makes mistakes. Why she never apologized — that belongs to her. Maybe she was not completely right in her mind. I’m just hoping that she’s forgiven herself. Hoping that, in some kind of way, that she was okay. I forgave her completely. It’s not a big thing for me.

It sucks because, unlike Silvia Ruegger, Gareau never became a major name in Canadian running circles. It feels that not only did Rosie rob the rightful winner of her moment in the sun, she robbed Canada — especially young Canadian women — another hero.

But Gareau seems to be at peace with it, which is what matters most.

Gareau was inducted into the Canadian track & field hall of fame this summer, 39 years after her Boston victory. Boston remained the pinnacle of her career.

From a CTV article about her hall of fame induction:

Looking back, she says she had a good career and has no regrets.

A poor showing at the 84 Olympics — because she “didn’t listen to her body” — and a pregnancy at the age of 40 ended her chances to compete in 1992. But she calls her son, who is now 26 years old, her medal.

She proudly admits she is stubborn, which has served her well. Gareau is now a massage therapists and motivational speaker, encouraging people to “move and create the life you want.”

“I am happy where I am,” she said. “There is no place for regrets for me.”

We’re at peak wellness and, spoiler, most of it is BS

I’ve been sitting on this link for a few weeks, but never got around to including it! Well this week is the week!

Brad Stulberg wrote about wellness for Outside. He believes we are in the age of peak wellness and — like the diet industry — the reason it’s so big is because, well, most of it doesn’t work. So you have to keep coming back to it, shelling out more $$ in the process":

Nourishing these interrelated dimensions of health, however, does not require that you buy any lotions, potions, or pills. Wellness — the kind that actually works — is simple: it’s about committing to basic practices, day in and day out, as individuals and communities.

Unfortunately, these basics tend to get overlooked in favor of easy-to-market nonsense. That’s because, as many marketers (including in the self-help space) are fond of saying, “You can’t sell the basics.” I think that’s naive. We’d be much better off if we stopped obsessing over hacks and instead focused on evidence-based stuff that works.

The whole article is worth reading, but if you want to take a pass, Stulberg did a good job of summing it up in a few recent tweets:

Brittany Runs a Marathon is everywhere, and it’s worth seeing

I saw Brittany Runs a Marathon this weekend. It’s very cute, and I cried during the entire sequence of her actually running the marathon.

The real Brittany ⁠— the one who inspired the film ⁠— got some media attention in the wake of the film’s premiere. She talked to both Runner’s World and Self about her own running journey and what it was like having her friend Paul Downs Colaizzo make a film inspired by her.

From Self:

SELF: Can you describe how it felt to finally finish the marathon?

O'Neill: It was incredible. And I finished in just under four hours, I’m proud to say. I felt like a rockstar for four hours. I had my name written on my tank, and the crowd was six people deep, people screaming my name. Paul asked for a photo of me struggling in the marathon [to promote with the movie], and I went through photos and I am grinning in every single one. I was smiling the whole way, I had the time of my life. Paul and his fiancé and my husband went to three different points along the marathon to cheer me on, so finishing was incredible and I was so proud of my training.

The New York Times wrote about the logistics of filming during the actual 2017 NYC marathon:

The production originally wanted three crews of 22 people each. It got the three crews but only eight people each. Margot Hand, a producer, said the film wanted to shoot on the Queensboro Bridge, but the Department of Homeland Security, which controls access to bridges, wouldn’t allow the film cameras during the event.

Though Bell did not run the full 26.2-mile course from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to Central Park, no one could say for sure how far she did go, because she ran several segments of the race repeatedly so the crew could do multiple takes of each scene.

The A crew filmed with Bell, and hit key marks in the race, including the start, First Avenue in Manhattan, a scream tunnel of spectators and the finish line.

The crew would film a few takes, get in the van and move to the next location, escorted by two production assistants to get them through security and the maze of street closures.

Because the crews were so small, everyone doubled up in duties — including Hand and Bell herself, who carried stands for lighting and tripod legs.

Erin Strout at Women’s Running enjoyed the film too:

Had I watched this movie a few years ago, I probably would have said, “It’s cute; worth seeing,” and left it at that. But my own struggle with running—and eventual return to it—in the past four years allowed me to come away with more. What I noticed above all is how running can serve as a stabilizing force in our lives and we don’t usually realize how much so until it’s gone.

The final kick

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next Monday!