Geneviève Lalonde, Mike Tate win Canadian cross-country championships

Also this week: Lanni Marchant talked about the state of our sport, Sasha Gollish talked about burnout and more.


Welcome to the latest issue of Run the North!

This issue has some news, some links and some podcasts: The Canadian cross-country championships were this weekend, Lanni Marchant and Kate Gustafson were on podcasts, WADA wants Russia to GTFO of the Olympics and possibly everything for at least four years, Sasha Gollish wrote about burnout and more.

A programming note: I am taking the last two Mondays in December off of newslettering (newsletter writing?) to enjoy the holidays. You will get issues on Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, but there will be NO ISSUES on Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. Unless there’s major Canadian running news, then I’ll pop in and say hi and let you know what’s going on.

I’ve got some year-end stuff planned for the last two issues of 2019. The Dec. 9 issue will feature a round-up of books I’ve discussed, read or recommended to help you with your holiday shopping. And the Dec. 16 issue will countdown the top 10 moments in Canadian running in 2019!

After that, Run the North will then return on Monday, January 6.

OK, let’s get to it!

Geneviève Lalonde, Mike Tate win Canadian cross-country championships

Geneviève Lalonde and Mike Tate won the Canadian cross-country championships on Nov. 30.

Geneviève Lalonde defends her title

Lalonde dominated a strong race to successfully defender her title. Maria Galea-Bernard and Sarah Inglis stayed with Lalonde for much of the race, but she eventually broke away to break the tape.

The 28-year-old was also the top Canadian finisher at the world cross-country championships in March, placing 20th overall. Lalonde has had a strong 2019, winning gold in the steeplechase at the PanAm Games and lowering her own Canadian record in the event.

“It was a pretty tough race out there. We have such a talented group of women and they definitely didn’t disappoint and they set a fast pace. I had never raced Sarah Inglis before, so I was looking forward to the opportunity. Maria Bernard-Galea had a great race. And there was just a stream of talented ladies that followed,” she told Athletics Illustrated after the race. “I am very tired now though.”

Scottish runner Sarah Inglis, who lives and trains in B.C., placed second overall.

Maria Bernard-Galea placed third overall, second Canadian. I did not include Maria in my preview last week. Maria is a 26-year-old steeplechaser who ran at the University of British Columbia during her collegiate career. She represented Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the steeplechase and at the 2019 world championships in Doha.

Natasha Wodak was the third Canadian, fourth overall, and ran the race she “expected” to run, she said on social media, given her fitness. Up next for the Canadian 10,000m record holder is a trip to Barbados, where she and several other Canadian elites will participate in Barbados marathon weekend. If you follow Natasha on Instagram, you will see that 1) she is very excited for this trip and 2) she owns A LOT of swimsuits.

Steeplechaser Regan Yee had a solid showing in her first 10K cross-country race, finishing as fourth Canadian and fifth overall.

Mike Tate wins first national championship

Tate out-ran last year’s champion Luc Bruchet to claim his first national title. Tate kept the pace hot, but Luc and Connor Black kept him close. At one point, Luc passed him to take the lead, but Mike reeled in him and passed him to break the tape.

Tate came second to Bruchet in this event last year. He also placed second to Reid Coolsaet at the Hamilton Boxing Day 10-miler last year. Tate is originally from Nova Scotia and went to college at Southern Utah University (it’s the same school Cam Levins went to). He was also on the team Canada sent to the world cross-country championships earlier this year.

“I have wanted this since last year. Last year he [Bruchet] got away from me. I knew it was going to be extremely tough to battle as Luc is always ready to go here,” Tate told Athletics Illustrated after the race. “It was a good day for me.”

Luc was a classy runner-up. He’s won the race twice, but 2019 has been an up-and-down year for the 28-year-old.

The men’s top five was rounded out by three young guys who appear to be tough as nails and should have great careers ahead of them.

Taking third was Connor Black. Black, who just graduated from the University of Guelph, was 2018 Canadian university cross-country champion.

Ben Preisner, who just graduated from the University of Tulsa, placed fourth. After graduating Preisner returned to Canada and upped his distance, tackling the half-marathon and winning in Vancouver and Toronto.

Jon Gay, a steeplechaser who just graduated from the University of British Columbia, came fifth. John represented Canada on the world stage twice this summer: at the world cross-country championships as part of the mixed-relay team and at the world championships in Doha.

What’s next?

Full results for all races can be found here.

The top six Canadians in both genders qualified to represent Canada at the PanAm cross-country cup, which will be held in Victoria, B.C. on February 29, 2020.

They had to declare whether or not they were going to participate by Sunday.

Should cities have a run score?

A University of Toronto student, A.J. Bimm, is currently interning at Spacing magazine, and he has proposed an interesting idea: what if cities had a “run score” the way they have a walk score? Neighbourhoods could be graded according to their runnability. You could look at factors such as safety, topography and connection to trails.

Bimm sees the project as not just a running issue. It’s a public safety and public health issue because the attributes and infrastructure that make a neighbourhood great for running tend to just make neighbourhoods great in general.

He wrote a piece about the idea on Spacing’s website:

A benefit of creating runnable neighbourhoods could be increasing the number of residents who run to or from work as part of their daily commute. Like walking and cycling, running is a healthy activity that allows you to commute on your own terms and not rely on the schedule of public transit. A run score will help commuters determine the most accessible running routes and shed light on an often overlooked type of active transportation.

You can read his whole essay here.

Leslie Sexton talks to Canadian Running about her breakthrough in Philadelphia

Leslie Sexton, the 2017 Canadian marathon champion, had a rough race at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, dropping out at 16K. She regrouped and set her sights on the half-marathon in Philadelphia, where she smashed a new PB of 1:11:21 and finished second overall.

Leslie talked to Canadian Running about regrouping and refocusing:

Sexton successfully ran a huge personal best and felt great. But she admits she hasn’t run a fresh half-marathon in a long time, so that could be part of it. “I was aiming for under 1:12 and I ran faster than I expected. It was a negative split. It was beyond my A-plus goal for the day.” Sexton ran the personal best despite one minor mistake — she didn’t start her watch. “There were clocks every mile along the way, so it ended up being fine, but I wasn’t able to upload my whole run to Strava. That was too bad.”

Leslie and her coach and partner, Steve Weiler, are moving from London, Ont., to Kingston and are joining the Queen’s University coaching staff. The big move was going down right as Leslie was getting ready to run Toronto. It’s a good reminder that stress is stress is stress, even for elites.

On Sunday I lined up for the Hamilton Road2Hope Half Marathon, two weeks almost to the minute after I had lined up for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I race I dropped out of less than an hour later at the 16k mark.

A lot can change in two weeks. I had a lot of life stress before Toronto and I didn't handle it well. I was also putting pressure on myself to race well and qualify for the Olympics. After only 10k my mental struggles became physical and I felt like I was fighting my own body just to continue.

Last Sunday was different. I was far from stress-free (I was racing in Hamilton in the midst of a move from London to Kingston that weekend), but I tried my best not to put pressure on myself to run a certain time. Sunday was just about being on the start line again, going through the routine, and racing hard without expectations.

It wasn't another marathon, but 74 minutes is still a lot of time to think, to let doubts creep in, to obsess and beat myself up over past failures and talk myself out of a performance I know my body is capable of. It wasn't a perfect day; I had good patches and bad patches, but I made an effort to stay positive and push through no matter what happened or how I was feeling. There is still work to do but this was a good step forward.

@sauconycanada @hamiltonmarathon
November 6, 2019

Lanni Marchant talks about the state of running on The Shakeout

So, if you’ve been paying attention, you know A LOT has been going on in the world of running. Canadian Running’s podcast The Shakeout had special guest Lanni Marchant — lawyer and former Canadian marathon record holder — on their recent episode to break down what’s been happening. They discuss current running culture, the fallout of Mary Cain’s revelation that she felt she was physically and emotionally abused during her time with the Nike Oregon Project, and what the sport can do to make things better and move forward.

You can listen to the episode here.

Kate Gustafson was on Citius Mag’s podcast

Kate Gustafson was the latest guest on the Citius Mag podcast (one of the best running podcasts out there, I think). Kate is an NCAA DI hockey player turned elite runner and coach. She currently lives in New York City and coaches for Mile2Marathon remotely. Her marathon PB is 2:40:10 and she was the top Canadian at the Boston marathon this year.

In this episode, Kate talks about her transition from hockey to running, becoming a run coach and more.

You can listen to the episode here.

Robyn Mildren talks to the Manitoba Marathon

World mountain running championships 2019 - Patagonia🇦🇷
So excited that I got to race a course like this in crazy wet and muddy conditions! Definitely the most type 2 fun I’ve ever had!
Amazing experience, 34th place overall, something to build on. 🇨🇦 🏔 🏃🏼‍♀️ #mountainrunning
@canadianmountainrunning @wmramountainrun @k42series
November 19, 2019

The Manitoba Marathon continued their Q&A series with elites who participated in the Canadian half-marathon championships this year with Robyn Mildren.

Robyn made her marathon debut at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, running 2:36:47 to place 15th overall.

She also just represented Canada at the world mountain running championships, placing 34th in the 14K run.

She placed third at the half-marathon championships.

In the Q&A, she talks about why she mixes it up so much, preparing for her first marathon and more:

If you could travel back in time to the start of your running career, what would you tell yourself?

There are so many things I wish I could tell my rookie self when I started my varsity career. But here are the top 3:
1) First and foremost: always enjoy the experiences; don’t be so wrapped up in the outcomes
2) Look after your health first and foremost. Think about consistency and avoid overtraining, injuries, and make sure you are fueling appropriately
3) Be patient, your best days are still ahead of you

Read the full Q&A here.

Chris Balestrini shares a day in his life as a runner, coach and MD/PhD student

Chris Balestrini has run two marathons in 2019, placed third at the Canadian half-marathon championships in June, and just competed at the Canadian cross-country championships. In 2019, he’s run several other races, all while coaching at Western University, where he is studying for a double PhD and medical degree.

He also has a YouTube channel. Over the summer, he chronicled his training for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. This week, he dropped a video that showcases how he spends his time and balances everything that he’s going on on in his life: class and studying and research and running and racing and coaching and training.

Sasha Gollish talks about burnout

Go Fast.
Take Chances.
~ @oiselle
📷 idea: @hannahcalvertt
November 24, 2019

Sasha Gollish’s 2019 had some major highs and lows. She kicked the year off debuting in the marathon in Houston, running 2:32:52. She then graduated from University of Toronto with her PhD. But then she dropped out of the world championship marathon. She decided to not run NYC at all. She ran well off her personal best at the Philadelphia half-marathon. And then she decided to not run in the Canadian cross-country championships.

Why? She realized she was burned out. She wrote about it on her blog:

I was caught up in the cycle of life. Like mental health and wellness issues, because I cannot wear the ‘injury’ on the outside I also forgot to measure how my head was doing. With no visible signs, I was like a piece of ductile steel that reached its breaking point. When it snapped, there was no immediate recovery. Just a longing to try to get back to the breaking point and to undo the damage.

With this exhaustion comes heightened emotions. I’ve lost my fight and competitiveness. I feel guilty for not putting in hours and miles of training. I am having trouble writing and pulling together my thoughts. All of which is to say I’m don’t quite feel like myself.

Read the full essay here.

Mo Farah is re-focusing on the track for Tokyo 2020

Mo Farah, the great British runner, made a big announcement this week. After a few years of focusing on the marathon, he is returning to the track. The 36-year-old wants to run the 10,000m at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. He is the two-time defending champion in the event, having won gold in 2016 and 2012. He also won gold in the 5,000m at both Olympics, making him one of the most successful track athletes ever.

He made this announcement via YouTube, which you can watch below.

Mo’s marathon career has been all right. He won the 2018 Chicago marathon and set the European marathon record (which was actually broken this weekend at the Valencia marathon). But he was disappointed in his London performance this year (he finished fifth in 2:05:39) and struggled in Chicago (eighth in 2:09:58). Considering the competition he will face at 42.2K on a hot and difficult course, re-focusing on the track is probably his best chance at another Olympic medal.

Mo does not have the qualifying time for the 10,000m yet to run at Tokyo. He has to run 27:28 by June 21, 2020. His personal best at the distance is 26:46.

Joshua Cheptegei breaks 10K road world record

Joshua Cheptegei capped off an already impressive 2019 by breaking the 10K road record at the Valencia marathon weekend. He ran 26:38 to break the mark by six seconds. The previous record was set by Kenya’s Patrick Komon in 2010.

The 23-year-old Ugandan began his year by winning the world cross-country title in Aarhus, a spectacular event that brought renewed interest to cross-country. H also won the 10,000m world championship title in 26:48, which was the fastest time run this year at that distance. It was Uganda’s first 10,000m gold at worlds.

Yes, he was wearing Nike Vaporflys.

Etaferahu Wodaj, who ran Toronto and Ottawa, tested positive for banned substances

Etaferahu Wodaj, the Ethiopian runner who has found success at Canadian races, tested positive for testosterone and EPO, Inside the Games reports.

The 30-year-old placed third at Ottawa this year, running 2:28:44, and placed eighth in Toronto, running 2:27:21.

There will be a hearing and a final decision by World Athletics (formerly IAAF), which has yet to be scheduled.

I first saw this story on Fast Women’s Twitter. Follow them @fast_women.

WADA wants four-year doping ban for Russia

The World Anti-Doping Agency wants Russia banned from global sports for four years. If this passes, it would include the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and possibly the 2022 and 2024 Olympics.

These new findings stemmed from research and investigation that came out of the revelation that Russia instigated successful state-sanction doping at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. It was that investigation that got them banned from the 2018 Olympics, but several athletes still got to compete under a neutral flag.

The New York Times has an article about WADA’s recommendation that’s worth reading.

The committee has spent several years investigating Russian compliance with global antidoping rules after the earlier scandal, which stemmed from revelations of a state-sponsored doping program that was remarkable for its scale and sophistication. The committee concluded that Russia had deliberately manipulated a database of test results to conceal failed drug tests by Russian athletes, and that it had fabricated evidence in an attempt to shift blame for those changes to former Russian antidoping officials.

The International Olympic committee has expressed that they prefer case-by-case assessments and punishments as opposed to the country-wide ban proposed by WADA.

A ruling is expected on Dec. 9.

You can read the whole article here.

The book to read this week

I just read Matthew Futterman’s book about Bob Larsen, Running to the Edge. Larsen is Meb Keflezighi’s coach and one of the greatest running coaches of all time. He perfected so many staples of marathon training we see pros do today: train as a team, train at altitude, run long tempos, etc. Running to the Edge was a great overview of how Bob Larsen achieved all that, divided into two major eras of Larsen’s career: the beginning when he trained a rag-tag group of runners in souther California and the end, when he trained Meb.

I think I especially enjoyed this as I have already read Meb’s memoir 26 Marathons and Deena Kastor’s memoir Let Your Mind Run — two athletes who applied Larson’s approach and techniques to great success.

The final kick

That’s it for this week!

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