It's Berlin marathon time, world championship time and I hope you have time to do some reading

Aaron Brown and Evan Dunfee won Canadian Sport Awards, Rachel Cliff got a last-minute worlds invite and more.

Hello and happy first day of fall!

Face race season is officially here, with the first big marathon coming up on Sunday: The Berlin marathon! I have a small preview in this newsletter, since only one Canadian elite is running: Krista DuChene.

Rachel Cliff was a late addition to Canada’s world championship team, I have some race results I missed last week and a bunch of links and podcasts for you to check out.

The world championships start this week, on Sept. 27, and run until Oct. 6. Unless something crazy amazing happens, I’ll recap the Canadian results in the Oct. 7 newsletter. The full schedule can be found here. The events will be streamed online at CBC Sports.

If you want to reach out for any reason, you can always email me at

Okay, onwards!

The Berlin marathon is Sunday!

The Berlin marathon is on Sunday! CBC Sports will be streaming the race live online, beginning at 2:30 a.m.

Here are three storylines to watch!

  1. Krista DuChene is representing the maple leaf

Krista DuChene is the only Canadian elite lining up for this race. She wrote about why she chose Berlin for iRun. DuChene say she’s going to do her best to get herself in contention for another Olympics, but knows the scene is very different than it was for 2016. Her fastest days are behind her, but she could qualify with a top 10 finish or with enough IAAF points. She placed third at Boston in 2018, but hasn’t broken 2:30 since 2013.

  1. Ethiopia is coming for the men’s marathon title

Defending champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge opted to not defend his Berlin title, instead going for a second sub 2:00 attempt. This means the title is wide open and several runners have a shot.

Five Ethiopian runners want to break Kenya’s marathon dominance: Guye Adola, Leul GebrselassieSisay Lemma, Birhanu Legese and Kenenisa Bekele. Adola made his debut at 42.2K in 2017, running a stunning 2:03:46. Gebrselassie, Lemma and Legese all have PBs faster than 2:05. Bekele, who holds the world records in the 5,000m and the 10,000m, ran his marathon PB of 2:03:03 in Berlin in 2016. At the time, that run was only six seconds off the world marathon record.

(Correction: an earlier version of this newsletter said that Adola made his debut in 2018. It was, in fact, in 2017.)

  1. Can Gladys Cherono defend her title?

Last year, all three of the top women broke 2:19 — times that would win any other marathon in the world, including the other majors.

Defending champion Gladys Cherono from Kenya is back — she broke the course record by more than a minute last year when she ran 2:18:11. Challenging her is Olympic bronze medallist Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia, who has a PB of 2:19:52.

The women’s race, though, won’t be as competitive as it could have been. Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya, who has a PB of 2:18:31, withdrew from Berlin this week, citing a tendon injury.

Rachel Cliff is a late addition to world championship team

Doha bound 🇶🇦 Honoured to be selected to represent Canada again at the IAAF Championships in October - this time in the 5,000m.
#RoadtoDoha #IAAFworlds2019 #BCEP #AthleticsCanada #OnRunning #BCAthletics #VRC #nuunelite #synergyphysio #lovetherun #runonclouds 📸: @bill_torres_photo
September 13, 2019

Canadian marathon and half-marathon record holder Rachel Cliff was originally not on the Canadian world championship track & field team. She turned down a spot on the marathon team to opt for a speedy track season. The gamble paid off: she won bronze in the 10,000m at the PanAm Games and she ran the world qualifying time in the 5,000m. But so did three other Canadians (Andrea Seccafien, Jessica O’Connell and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford) and as the slowest qualifier, she didn’t receive an invitation.

But then the world championship schedule came out. Gabriela DeBues-Stafford originally qualified in both the 1,500m and the 5,000m (she owns the Canadian record in both distances). That double is not possible with the schedule as it is. So DeBues-Stafford opted to compete in the 1,500m, opening to door to Cliff being invited as as the third Canadian in the 5,000m. And she said yes.

“I was kept in the loop through everything this month. I knew that Gabriela wasn’t sure what she wanted to run, and that I would be told on September 7 what her decision was. It was challenging to not know if I was on time off of gearing up again, but I was never kept in the dark,” Cliff told Canadian Running.

The world championships take place Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar. The full schedule can be found here.

Dave Proctor planning to set a cross-Canada record in May 2020

Dave Proctor, an ultramarathoner from Alberta, is planning a second attempt at breaking the cross-Canada running record.

The record is currently 72 days, 10 hours and was set by Al Howie in 1991.

Proctor will make his attempt starting in May 2020, according to CBC Calgary. His goal time is 67 days. He will start east, in Newfoundland, and run west, planning to average about 100km per day.

“I wake up dreaming of the shoulder of the highway and I go to bed thinking of the open road,” he said to CBC. “The TransCanadian run is now in my blood and the only means of redemption, is to conquer it.”

Proctor previously attempted the record in 2018, but stopped 1/3 of the way because of a back injury.

Proctor is no stranger to weird records. In May, he set the 12-hour and the 100-mile treadmill records records. He also holds the 24 hour and 48 hour Canadian road records.

He runs to raise awareness for rare diseases, including Rare Disease Foundation’s OutRun Rare initiative and Canada’s Rare Disease Foundation.

Proctor’s 10-year-old son has a rare genetic disease.

“One quarter of kids with rare diseases die before their 10th birthday so it’s a real fight, a real battle to get that support,” he told CTV Calgary.

“I see it as a duty to help — once you’ve had your eyes open to the needs of these sick children, you can’t close your eyes again. And running across the country to create awareness is the best foot I can put forward.”

Rory Linkletter is ready for his 42.2K debut

Running in Canada profiled Rory Linkletter, the 23-year-old who just graduated from Brigham Young University and will be making his marathon debut at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. After graduating, Linkletter joined the professional running group NAZ Elite, which includes elite Americans Scott Fauble, Stephanie Bruce and Kellyn Taylor.

Linkletter was born in Calgary, but was raised un Utah. He’s proud to represent the maple leaf, and talks about that in this piece.

Making the jump to the marathon this early in a career is an unusual move, but Linkletter has one major goal: becoming an Olympian. He feels that the 42.2 distance is his best way to get there.

The desire to make the Olympics made the decision to come to Toronto a no brainer. Linkletter added that the new qualification method as a key factor: “With the current ranking systems in place it makes the most sense to compete in your national championships and try to run fast in those races.”

He added that: “I have always wanted to debut my marathon on Canadian soil.”

In terms of his goals for the race, Linkletter is preaching that he wants to experience the process and the distance noting that he “wants to conquer the distance physically and mentally. To me doing so would be running the pace in which my training has prepared me to do and being unrelenting when the race gets tough as we all know it will!” As for a time goal, Linkletter is “ready for something in the ball park of 2:14 if conditions are fair.”

Then, Linkletter exclaimed, “I believe if I can do this, I will run well enough to be an Olympic caliber marathoner.”

Linkletter has a 2:14 goal in mind, which is above the Olympic standard, but there are a few different ways he could qualify with that time. I outlined them all here.

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Oct. 20.

Aaron Brown, Evan Dunfee win Canadian Sport Awards

Last week, I wrote about how Gabriela DeBues-Stafford was up for the audience-voted Canadian Sport Award international performance of the year. She lost to tennis U.S. Open champ Bianca Andreescu.

Track athletes picked up two awards. Sprinter Aaron Brown won summer male athlete of the year and racewalker Evan Dunfee won the Athlete Social Responsibility Award.

Brown won the 100m and the 200m Canadian national championships and had strong showings in international meets this year. He is representing Canada at the world championships in Doha, Qatar this month.

The female summer athlete of the year was Bianca Andreescu.

The winter athletes of the year were ski cross racer Marielle Thompson and moguls skier Mikael Kingsbury.

Dunfee hosted a fundraiser this year, where he walked 25K a day in 25 days while visiting 25 schools in order to raise $25,000. The initiative was to honour KidSport, which offers financial assistance to kids and families who might not have the economic means to participate in sports.

Dunfee is Canada’s best racewalker. He won the national title, came 4th at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and has qualifying mark for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Terry Fox keeps inspiring

The public Terry Fox Run was last Sunday and the Terry Fox school run is set for Thurs. Sept. 26. I wrote a bit about participating in one of the Toronto races last week. Many inspiring stories have been published in various media this week because of the race and I wanted to share of them here.

CBC Saskatchewan profiled Jade Gritzfeld, who has been cancer-free for 15 years and has run the race every year since:

When she was going through treatment it was the 25th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, she said the memories of watching Fox on his run when she was younger started flooding in.

"He was always a hero of mine, I watched him do the run and gain profile and awareness along the way," she said. "He was very selfless in how he did it and how he approached it."

Gritzfeld decided that she wanted to join a group dedicated to fighting cancer. Although she was previously quite active socially, she had to withdraw from a number of groups to focus on her health and recovery. The drive to begin fundraising struck her one day at the hospital undergoing treatment.

"There I was sitting in my La-Z-Boy chair with my head propped up against it, because you don't realize how heavy your head is until you're going through chemo," said Gritzfeld. 

From there she decided to volunteer with the Terry Fox Foundation, believing it to be as selfless as the man it was named after.

Cumberland News in Nova Scotia profiled 85-year-old Grace Smith and 83-year-old Merlin Ford, who have participated in a combined 78 Terry Fox runs.

“I had a minor stroke three years ago but I got over that and I walk pretty well every day now,” Ford said.

Smith has participated in the run between River Philip and Collingwood for the past 39 years, and has organized it for the past 38 years.

“My brother, Gordon Simons, had cancer,” Smith said. “He lost his leg to cancer the same year Terry lost his leg.”

The cancer eventually spread and Simons succumbed to cancer in 1987 at the age of 45.

“I lost a sister to cancer as well,” Smith said.

Ford was stationed throughout Canada during the 37 years he spent in the Canadian Airforce as an airplane mechanic.

“I travelled all over the world with the Airforce for 37 years.”

Now living in Amherst, Ford grew up in Collingwood and has participated in Terry Fox runs right across the country.

“I was so proud of what Terry had done for himself and for the country and I thought I’d carry on his legacy, and it’s worked for me so far,” Ford said.

The Journal Pioneer in P.E.I. met a Dutch couple, Martine and Pieter Kuijper, who learned about Terry Fox while vacationing in B.C. and decided to integrate his legacy into their holidays:

“Every year we travel to Canada and see something related to Terry Fox, so we now involve him in our holiday. We are on P.E.I. for three nights, and coincidentally saw the Terry Fox Run, so my wife runs in marathons in the Netherlands and had to be involved.”

Martine completed the run to the end of the boardwalk and back.

“This is my first Terry Fox Run and while I don’t have any relatives with cancer, I think this cause is extremely important,” she said.

“When I was running, and throughout our trip, I thought about Terry Fox and what he accomplished. I just completed a simple 10-kilometre run, but he ran across the country on one leg by himself, now that takes courage and determination,” said Martine.

“Reading about Terry, what he achieved, and how he couldn’t complete his marathon because the cancer spread, is a very sad story. But the reason Terry ran is something that inspires us. With the right mindset you can accomplish anything,” said Pieter. 

More than 900 runs took place across Canada on Sept. 15. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $800 million for cancer research since the first run in 1981. You can donate here, if you’d like.

Recommendations for books and movies about running

I love a good book/movie about running recommendation and two media outlets have come through this month.

Ben Kaplan counted down his top 10 favourite running movies for the National Post. I won’t spoil the list for you, but appreciate that CanCon topped the list.

Outside first published this list of must-have books, movies and magazines about running in 2016, but has been re-promoting it recently.

Notable recent race results

I wrote last week about Reid Coolsaet’s solid 14th place finish at the Philadelphia Rock & Roll half-marathon. I failed to mention that his time of 1:05:46 set a Canadian masters half-marathon record.

Cam Levins, the Canadian marathon record holder who is planning to defend his title at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Oct., DNFed the same race. He told Canadian Running he had a rough week, bad races happen and he’s not worried about it: “I feel super fit and workouts have been going great. Ultimately, I’m not worried about where I am in my marathon build, but I would have liked a strong result in this half-marathon.”

Emily Setlack also ran Philadelphia Rock & Roll half-marathon, and placed third. Her time of 1:12:34 is a personal best. Setlack, who ran a big marathon personal best of 2:35:44 in Rotterdam this spring, plans to race a fall marathon but has yet to announce where.

→ American Becky Wade placed second at the same race. I’m including her here because 1) she beat Jordan Hasay (so did Setlack! Hasay came fourth overall), who is going for the American record at Chicago this fall and 2) her goal race is Toronto, where she hopes to run under the Olympic standard of 2:29:30.

→ Kenyan Wesley Korir won the Waterloo Harvest half-marathon in 1:05:54. Korir, who won the 2012 Boston marathon, is married to Waterloo native and elite Canadian runner Tarah Korir. Wesley helped re-design the course to make it faster and better for runners. “I wanted to design it to have more of a mix of professional and recreational running,” he told Canadian Running. “People want to get some good times, some PBs, and enjoy the countryside of Waterloo. The goal was to give both categories a chance to achieve a goal, which I think turned out well.”

→ The Vancouver Eastside 10K had two notable names among their finishers: former NHL stars Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. The twin brothers, who spent most of their hockey career with the Vancouver Canucks, made their marathon debuts in Vancouver this past spring. Their 10K times of 37:04 (Daniel) and 37:10 (Henrick) are impressive for newbie runners.

→ Competitive triathlete Joel Malay won the Canada Army Run in Ottawa on Sept. 22, in a time of 1:14:11. Malay just represented Canada at the 70.3 world championships. The top female was Beth Mountford, who broke the tape in 1:23:44.

→ The Oasis 10K Zoo run was held in Toronto on Sat. Sept 21. Wendimu Adamu and Rachel Hannah were the champions, running 31:31 and 36:03 respectively.

→ The Montreal Rock & Roll marathon was won by Kenyan Boniface Kongin, who broke the tape in 2:15:18. The race apparently had some staffing issues and started 50 minutes late, according to the Montreal Gazette.

David Mutai, the Kenyan runner who now lives and trains in Canada, placed fifth in the Montreal Rock & Roll marathon 2:23:46. It was Mutai’s sixth marathon of 2019 and the first he did not win. I wrote more about Mutai in a past issue.

→ Kenyan Grace Kwamboka Momanyi won the Montreal Rock & Roll marathon in a time of 2:40:51.

→ The half-marathon was won by Arianne Raby and Philippe Viau-Dupuis, in times of 1:19:15. and 1:10:19, respectively. Sara Crouch (no H) came second in 1:19:50 and I am pretty sure it’s American elite Sarah Crouch (with an H), who recently completed Boston with a stress reaction, but have not been able to confirm this. If I do or if I am wrong, I’ll let you know.

Strides: links worth reading

The Manitoba Marathon interviewed Thomas Toth on their website. Toth placed second at the Canadian half-marathon championships in June, behind Tristan Woodfine. Toth, like almost everyone else, is running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.

You have a strong record in Cross Country events and are still active in that as well as road races. If you could choose to focus on just one would you do that or do you prefer the duality of being able to mix it up between the two?

That’s tough! I don’t think I could ever choose! But gun to head, probably cross country. I love facing the elements, the technical courses, the crowds, team element, and I don’t know if any race can be more unpredictable.  I think there is a large benefit to being able to cross over events. When I was growing up it was well known world cross had the best to offer in terms of athletes. Track, road, true distance, middle distance, everyone competed! I think that’s what makes cross country so interesting at the collegiate level. Whoever does well in cross generally has a good track season whereas track guys don’t always translate to the mud well.

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

I don’t know if I would say anything. Even though if I was ever faced with the situation in reality I would probably give my younger self an ear full from training to personal advice. I’ve been very happy with how things have turned out. My growth on and off the track have really made me happy. Do I wish I was a better athlete and a better man? Of course! But I do think I needed to live through some of those failures to really appreciate where I am at.

Dayna Pidhoresky, who is also running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, wrote about her two recent races, the Edmonton half-marathon and the Vancouver Eastside 10K, on her personal blog:

It was disappointing.  One of my slowest half marathons in years.  And furthermore I just didn’t know when or if training was going to turn around.  We had Toronto marathon on the horizon and I could barely run marathon pace.  I was happy with how I handled the race mentally.  I tried to focussed my energy on what was ahead of me more than what was behind me.  Timing the gap was a good way to keep that on the forefront of my mind and avoid panic that I was going to be caught.

American icon Meb Keflezighi was on the podcast Finding Mastery recently. He spoke about his approaching to training and to life and how his values guide him. It’s definitely worth listening to.

Brad Stulberg gives some tips as to how to become more mentally tough in his most recent Outside column:

Come up with the three to five things that matter most to you, whether these are the guiding principles of your life or aspects of the person you want to become. Examples include concrete things like good health and rewarding relationships, as well as more abstract qualities like creativity, presence, optimism, and authenticity. Whatever words you come up with, write a sentence or two on each, describing what they mean to you. These are the values you’ll want to act in service of when the going gets tough.

Fall race calendar

Sept. 27-Oct. 6: IAAF world championships

Sept. 29: Berlin marathon

Oct. 12 (or thereabouts): INEOS 1:59 challenge

Oct. 13: Chicago marathon

Oct. 20: Toronto Waterfront marathon

Nov. 3: New York City marathon

The final kick

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Thanks, as always, for reading, and keep on running.