Meet the track athletes named to the PanAm Canadian team

There's 46 of them and I did a LOT of Googling to bring you this newsletter.

46 athletes named to PanAm Canadian track & field team

Remember when the PanAm Games were in Toronto? Those were great times. I stood behind a synchronized swimmer wearing her gold medal at a Subway and was totally and randomly smoked by two American runners out for a leisurely run while killing myself doing 800s at a track in downtown Toronto. And I saw what was possibly the most epic and important Canadian woman’s basketball game to date.

Well, that was four years ago and the PanAm Games are happening again — this time in Lima, Peru. Athletics Canada announced that 46 track & field athletes were named to the Canadian team, including 41 runners, two racewalkers and three combined events athletes.

“Anytime you get to put on the Team Canada singlet it’s a special feeling,” decathlete and defending PanAM gold medallist Damian Warner said in the Athletics Canada press release. “I’ve had the pleasure of representing Canada a handful of times and it still feels special every time.” 

Here’s a rundown of who is competing in what.

Damian Warner is competing in the decathlon and the 4x100m relay. Warner is the reigning PanAm decathlon champion. He is currently ranked #2 in the world in the event and earlier this year he ran a 10.12 in the 100m, the fastest time ever recorded in that distance for a decathlete.

→ Also participating the decathlon is Pierce LePage. LePage is from Whitby, Ont., and competed for York University in Toronto in college. He was the 2017 national champion in the decathlon and wore the maple leaf for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He was also the first-ever winner of the RBC Training Ground program ⁠— you know, those kinda annoying “You could be an Olympian too” commercials. Well, don’t knock them anymore because the program apparently works.

→ The third combined events athlete is Georgia Ellenwood, who is competing in the heptathlon. Ellenwood is the Canadian heptathlon champion and is the NCAA DI indoor championship. Ellenwood is from Langley, B.C. and competed for the University of Wisconsin–Madison during her college career.

Rachel Cliff will compete in the 10,000m. Cliff, who lives and trains in B.C., is the Canadian marathon and half-marathon record holder and is the only athlete who qualified for the marathon for these games, but opted to run the 10,000m instead.

Natasha Wodak is also running the 10,000m. Wodak is the Canadian record holder in the distance and the reigning Canadian champion in the 10,000m and the road 10K. Wodak is also running this distance at the world championships in the fall.

→ The other two 10,000m runners are Ben Flanagan and Rory Linkletter. Flanagan won the 10,000m at the NCAA national championships in 2018. After he graduated, he turned pro and currently trains with the Reebok Boston Track Club. Linkletter, who is from Calgary, had a successful distance career at Brigham Young University. It will be the first time both athletes are running for Canada on a world stage.

Mobolade Ajomale will compete in the 100m and the 4x100m relay. Ajomale was part of the bronze-medal-winning 4x100m relay team. He anchored the preliminary run, but was replaced by Andre DeGrasse for the finals. Ajomale still received a medal for his contribution. Ajomale grew up in Richmond Hill, Ont. and ran for Academy of Art in college, a DII NCAA school in San Francisco.

Marco Arop will compete in the 800m. Arop made headlines earlier this year when he broke the Canadian indoor 800m record at an NCAA meet in February. An injury kept him from competing at the NCAA national championships last month. Arop, who is from Edmonton, will be a junior at Mississippi State University in the fall.

Brandon McBride is also running the 800m. McBride is the current Canadian record holder at the distance, having run 1:43.20 last year. McBride, who is originally from Windsor, Ont., has run the 800m at the 2015 PanAm Games, the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 world championships.

Maïté Bouchard is running the 800m on the women’s side. Bouchard is currently studying to become a doctor at Université de Sherbrooke, all while training to make the 2020 Olympic team. This La Press profile is worth reading, if you can read French or handle the Google translate version.)

Lindsey Butterworth is also lining up in the 800m. Butterworth is the reigning Canadian champion at the distance (Canadian record holder Melissa Bishop was on mat leave last year). Butterworth, who is from B.C. and ran for Simon Fraser University while in college, also competed at the world championships in London in 2017.

Philip Osei is running the 400m. Osei, who is from Toronto, Ont., participated in the 2015 PanAm Games and was part of the 4x400m mixed relay team that broke the national record at the IAAF mixed relay world championships earlier this year.

Mathieu Bilodeau, who I profiled in last week’s newsletter, will compete in the 50km race walk. Bilodeau competed in the 50K distance at the Rio Olympics, but DNFed. He was also named to the Canadian team for the world championships in the fall.

Evan Dunfee will compete in the 50km race walk and the 20km race walk. He competed in both these distances in 2015 and at the Rio Olympics. I also profiled him last week, as he too was named to the world championship track & field team earlier this month.

→ Three athletes are competing in the 300m steeplechase: two women, Geneviève Lalonde and Regan Yee, and one man, Ryan Smeeton.

→ Lalonde, who is from New Brunswick, won the PanAm bronze in this event in 2015. More recently, she was the top Canadian at the world cross-country championships this year and just broke the national steeplechase record in May.

→ Yee, who just graduated after running for Trinity Western University in college, came second to Lalonde in this event in the national championships last year.

→ Smeeton, who is from Calgary and currently runs for Oklahoma State University, came second in the steeplechase at the NCAA national championships. He made even more headlines earlier in the year when he took more than 30 seconds off his personal best in the event at a meet in California.

Jessica O’Connell and Andrea Seccafien will be in the 5000m. Both O’Connell and Seccafien ran this event at the 2016 Olympics. O’Connell also ran this event at the PanAm Games and she broke the Canadian 3,000m indoor record earlier this year. Seccafien won the national championship in this distance in 2013, and currently lives and trains in Melbourne, Australia. She wrote an essay about uprooting her training to move for her partner’s career for Canadian Running in 2017.

Crystal Emmanuel has her name down for three events: 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. Emmanuel holds the Canadian record in the 200m and a personal best of 11.11 in the 100m. She’s planning to run the double (100m and 200m) at the world championships, so PanAm will be a good test for her.

Aiyanna Stiverne is also tripling up, with the 200m, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay on her schedule. Stiverne ran for the University of Miami and this is her third time donning the maple leaf, after the 2017 world championships and 2018 North American, Central American and Caribbean championships, which were held in Toronto last summer.

→ Hurdlers on the team include Johnathan Cabral (110m), Keira Christie-Galloway (100m) Phylicia George (100m hurdles & 4x100m relay), and Sage Watson (400m hurdles & 4x400m relay).

→ Cabral was born in Quebec but grew up in California and holds dual citizenship. He competed for the U.S. during his junior career but switched allegiances and represented Canada at the 2015 PanAm Games and 2016 Olympics. He made it to the Olympic final in this event, eventually placing sixth.

→ George, who grew up in Scarborough, Ont., won a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in two-person bobsled. She also competed in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

→ Christie-Galloway is from Ottawa and just completed her freshman year at NCAA DI school Iowa State University. She broke the U20 Canadian record in this event last summer, a record that had stood for 36 years.

→ Watson, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Alberta, has represented Canada internationally at the 2015 games, the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 world championships. She won the NCAA championship in this event in 2017 and has publicly stated she’s chasing down the Canadian record in the 400m hurdles.

Leya Buchanan, who is from Mississauga and ran for Oklahoma University, will compete in the 100m and the 4x100m relay. She also competed in both these events at the 2017 world championships.

Kyra Constantine will run the 400m and 4x400m relay. Constantine, who is from Brampton, Ont., just completed her junior year at the University of Southern Carolina. She made the NCAA D1 indoor and NCAA D1 championships this year.

Ashlan Best and Khamica Bingham round out the 4x100 relay team. Best is from Guelph, Ont. and just completed her sophomore year at Stanford University. Her local paper, Guelph Today, wrote a story about her signing her letter of intent in 2017 to the prestigious D1 school. Bingham ran for York University and was part of the 4x100 relay team that holds the current national record in the event, which was set at the world championships in 2015.

Natassha McDonald is running the 400m and the 4x400m relay. McDonald competed in the relay at the 2017 world championships. McDonald is from Toronto and currently runs for the University of Alabama.

Travia Jones is on the 4x400m relay team. Jones, who is from Dallas, Sask., ran the 400m at the world championships. She spent her college career at Louisiana State University.

Jerome Blake, who is from Kelowna, B.C, will compete in the 200m and the 4x100m relay. He came to Canada from Jamaica in 2013. He told Athletics Illustrated earlier this year that his goal is to represent Canada on an international stage and go under 10 seconds in the 100m and 20 seconds in the 200m.

Brendon Rodney will participate in the 200m and the 4x100m relay. Rodney was part of the bronze medal-winning 4x100 team at the 2016 Olympics. He ran the third leg in the prelims and the finals. Rodney, who is from Etobicoke, Ont. also competed in the 2015 PanAm Games.

Gavin Smellie is running the 100m and the 4x100m relay. Smellie ran the 4x100m relay in the 2012 Olympics — the heartbreaking race where we thought we won bronze, only to be disqualified for a lane violation — in addition to numerous other times he’s represented Canada.

William Paulson will compete in the 1500m. Paulson has dual citizenship with the U.K. and ran for Princeton University in college. He represented the U.K. in a few international meets and it appears this will be his first international event under the Canadian flag. His personal best in the distance in 3:36.86. A Let’s Run thread was trying to figure out his deal, which prompted him to post a note on Trackie.com that explained his mom is from Quebec and he’s fluent in French, with a British accent.

The 2019 PanAm Games take place July 26-Aug. 11. They released this video of how things are progressing in Sept. 2018:

Strong Canadian performances at Stanford Diamond League

Three Canadians raced over the weekend at the Eugene Diamond League and Prefontaine Classic.

Mohammed Ahmed and Justyn Knight both raced the two-mile. Both runners walked off the track with new PBs in the event. Ahmed ran 8:15.76, good for fourth place and Knight ran 8:19.75 to finish ninth.

Both times were better than the previous Canadian best at the distance, but the two-mile is not an event recognized for records by Athletics Canada.

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford had her eye on breaking the Canadian 1,500m record at the same meet, but came up short. She had a bumpy race and ran 4:02.06 to finish sixth. This

Natasha Wodak, Reid Coolsaet and Cam Levins to race lululemon Edmonton 10K

The lululemon Edmonton 10K is taking place on July 7, 2019 and the elite lineup is stard studded.

On the women’s side, defending champion (and 2017 Canadian marathon champion) Leslie Sexton is toeing the line against Natasha Wodak. Sexton ran a big PB in the marathon in Prague earlier this year, but has since been relatively quiet. Wodak, on the other hand, is winning everything in sight, or so it seems.

On the men’s side, we will see a showdown between Cam Levins and Reid Coolsaet. Cam is the Canadian marathon record holder but is coming back from an injury that kept him out of the London marathon. He’s healthy and recently ran the Toronto lululemon 10K in June, but is working to regain his fitness. Coolsaet is coming off running the Ottawa marathon in May, which had a disappointing time on the clock, but considering the hot conditions and training troubles Coolsaet has, was respectable.

You can see the complete start list here.

The book to read this week

No book I have ever read has captured exactly why I run like The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by the Oatmeal comic did. I’m slow. Running is hard. And yet. I keep showing up. It’s funny, moving and relatable to anyone who has ever tried to run and found it way too hard and totally not worth it. But then found themselves trying again. And again.

The final kick


A short one today because I spent some time enjoying the long weekend and not reading about running!

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running.

If you have feedback, story leads or just want to chat, you can reach me at runthenorthnews@gmail.com.