Melissa Bishop is back, another Canadian record is broken

And the elite fields for Ottawa's race weekend are hot hot hot.

Hello!

Yes, it’s Tuesday. Seeing as yesterday was a holiday (God save the Queen and all that), I decided to enjoy my long weekend and send this out a day late.

I hope you enjoyed your long weekend too!

Melissa Bishop is back!

Melissa Bishop, the Canadian 800 record holder, returned to racing this weekend. She took the past two years off to have her first child, but now has her sites set on Tokyo 2020.

Her first race back was the 1,500 at the Johnny Loaring Classic in Windsor, Ont. Bishop ran 4:09.36, which is a meet record and a small PB.

The Windsor Star covered her return to the track:

“I’m excited to be back in the scene and put a uniform on and have spikes on my feet and be around that atmosphere again and see my old teammates and friends,” the 30-year-old Bishop-Nriagu said. “I’m really excited for that, but, sure, there’s a lot of nerves surrounding it.

“I haven’t raced in two years and, now that it’s public, I feel the whole world’s going to have eyes on me. Even if they don’t, there’s pressure that goes along with it and it’s pressure that I’m obviously putting on myself.”

Bishop also said that becoming a mother has provided some much-needed balance and perspective for her approach to competition:

“I used to come out of races and workouts and just be consumed with it,” Bishop-Nriagu said. “I would carry it home and now, I guess, this is what people do in the real work world, they just kind of leave work at work and home is home and just enjoy what’s there and not to carry the two over.

“We still talk about it, Osi and I, but it’s nice to come home to a smiling baby that you just cuddle and play with.”

Welcome back, Bish!

Geneviève Lalonde breaks own Canadian steeplechase record

And yet another Canadian record has fallen. 2019 is shaping up to be one of the best yet for Canada’s track & field team. Geneviève Lalonde broke her own Canadian record in the steeplechase at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai. She ran 9:29.82, which is jussssst under her previous record of 9:29.99, which she set two years ago, in 2017. Lalonde finished seventh overall in the race.

Lalonde spoke to Athletics Illustrated about the race:

“The race began fast but I stayed quite conservative moving almost to the back,” said the 27-year-old. “The goal was to get out there and gain some experience. Two laps in I was in a comfortable position but I began to start picking people off and progressing much better into the hurdles, then with 1600m to go, I felt awesome and just kept on progressing from there on in.”

Lalonde is having a great 2019 — she was the top Canadian at the IAAF world cross-country championships earlier this year, placing 20th overall, which is the top Canadian placing in that race since 2004.

Aaron Brown & Andre DeGrasse go 1-2 in the 200m in Shanghai

At the same Diamond League meet, Andre DeGrasse showed that he is back from his injuries, but fellow Canadian Aaron Brown is here to compete. The duo went 1-2 in the 200m race, with Aaron crossing the finish line first in 20.07 and DeGrasse crossing right behind in 20.21. Both times are season’s bests for the athletes.

Both Brown and DeGrasse talked to CBC Sports after the race. They are pleased with the results but believe they are capable of even better performances.

The elite fields for Ottawa race weekend are stacked

Ottawa announced the final elite field for the marathon the the 10K — the 10K is also the Canadian 10K road championships — and both races are absolutely stacked.

10K preview

In the 10K, the Canadians toeing the line in the women’s race are:

  • Jessica O’Connell, who broke the Canadian indoor 3,000 record earlier this year,

  • Natasha Wodak, the current 10,000 Canadian record holder,

  • Lyndsay Tessier, who ran 2:30:47 in Berlin last year,

  • Malindi Elmore, the elite 1,500 runner turned triathlete turned elite marathoner at 38. She ran 2:32:15 at the Houston marathon in January,

  • Sasha Gollish, who finished Houston right behind Malindi in 2:32:54,

  • Mengistu Emebet, the winner of the 2019 Around the Bay 30K,

  • and Kinsey Middleton, the 2018 Canadian marathon national champion.

The men’s 10K includes the following Canadians:

  • Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, the three-time national champion in the 1,500,

  • Ben Flanagan, the 2018 NCAA 10,000 champion who graduated and turned pro last year,

  • Tristan Woodfine, the 2017 Canadian marathon champion who ran a
    2:15:19 in Houston in January,

  • Evan Esselink, who ran a 1:02:17 half in Houston this year,

  • Dylan Wykes, the fourth fastest Canadian marathoner of all time and 2012 Olympian,

  • and Connor Black, the 2018 Canadian university (USports) cross-country champion.

The race takes place at 6:30pm on Saturday, May 25. The race should be streamed on YouTube again this year.

You can see the complete 10K elite start list here.

Marathon preview

In the marathon, the following notable Canadian women are lining up to race:

  • Anne-Marie Comeau is making her debut at the distance. She won the Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal earlier this year in 1:14:06,

  • Rachel Hannah, the 2:32 marathoner, who is healthy and ready to race after a few years battling injuries,

  • and Dayna Pidhoresky, who was the top Canadian in Ottawa in 2017, which is where she ran her personal best of 2:36:08.

The big story of the women’s marathon is the return of Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye. Tirifi has a personal best in the marathon of 2:19:41, has won Tokyo and Berlin and placed 4th in the marathon at Rio. She just had a baby and Ottawa marks her return to racing.

If all goes well, no other woman in the elite field should come close to Tirifi. She should be able to challenge for the win, the women’s course record and the Canadian soil record. The women’s course record is 2:22:17, which was set last year by Gelete Burka, it’s also the Canadian soil record.

The notable Canadians lining up in the men’s marathon are:

  • Reid Coolsaet, the third fastest Canadian marathoner ever and who is chasing a Tokyo 2020 qualifying standard. He can score the standard with a run under 2:11:30 or a top 5 finish,

  • and John Mason, who just ran 2:15:17 in Rotterdam in April.

There are seven men set to run Ottawa with PBs under 2:07: Ethiopian Adugna Takele (2:06:32), Ethiopian Abera Kuma (2:05:50), Kenyan Martin Kosgey (2:06:41), Kenyan Albert Korir (2:08:17), Kenyan Marius Kimutai (2:05:47), Ethiopian Getu Feleke (2:04:50) and Ethiopian Tsedat Ayana (2:06:36).

The course record is 2:06:54, which was set in 2014 by Yemane Tsegay. The Canadian soil marathon record is 2:06:51, which was set by Philemon Rono at Toronto in 2017. If Sunday offers up good weather conditions (Ottawa is notoriously hot), both records are at risk.

The marathon starts at 7:00am on Sunday, May 26. It should be streamed online again in 2019.

You can see the complete elite start list here.

The book to read this week

Canadian Joel Cohen was a writer for The Simpsons, inactive and overweight, when he decided to try and run the New York City marathon. How to Lose a Marathon is a cute look at how one goes from non-runner to marathoner and balances marathon training with a demanding job, a family and having a life. I liked it because so many of the running books I read are about the best of the best, and here is one about a normal guy doing his best and discovering all the bananas things runners take for granted that are actually bonkers: eating disgusting gels, buying expensive gear, waking up at 5am to run. It’s relatable, funny and easy to read.

Strides: links I liked

I enjoyed Peter Bromka’s recap of running as an elite at the Boston marathon for Tempo Journal:

It was the water bottles that almost made me puke.

I’d been alright meeting Elite runners of the 2019 Boston Marathon in the gold encrusted lobby of the Fairmont Copley hotel. I was even fine while attending the Elite Runner technical meeting outlining the rules for Monday’s race. But when Patrick and I walked in to drop off the bottles to be put out for us every 5k along the course the next day, it hit me: this is business. These men run as a job. They stake their livelihood on the ability to maximize marathon performance. Finding ways to push their bodies beyond perceived limits as a profession.

And here I was.

Self profiled wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden. The super accomplished athlete is dedicated to advocating for other athletes with disabilities and making sport more inclusive, something she’s done since the beginning of her athletic career:

An early experience from high school really opened McFadden's eyes to how unfairly athletes with disabilities are often treated.

She wanted to compete alongside her nondisabled peers and was told that it wasn't possible. Officials argued her racing chair created a safety hazard and gave her an unfair advantage, McFadden recounts on her website. They offered to let her compete in separate wheelchair events at high school meets. But as the only wheelchair racer, that meant McFadden would have to circle around an otherwise-empty track by herself.

“I knew that if I wanted to put an end to this discrimination and make sure that others had the right for the opportunity, that I needed to fight this battle,” she says. So she did. She and her mother sued the local public school system in 2005 and won, giving McFadden the right to compete with her classmates. Then they lobbied the state of Maryland, which eventually passed the Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act in 2008, which requires schools to provide equal opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in physical education programs and on athletic teams. In 2013, those standards became federal law, opening doors and improving equity for students across the country.

Runner’s World has been profiling a lot of women chasing or scoring a 2:45 marathon, qualifying them for the U.S. Olympic trials. I love all these profiles, but am trying to keep the number I share in this newsletter to a reasonable amount. This one about 48-year-old Perry Shoemaker who qualified at the Eugene marathon, becoming the second-oldest woman to do so, is especially delightful. Perry got inspired to get into competitive running after watching her daughters’ high school track meets. She was coached by her husband until her husband realized how much potential Perry had and convinced her to get a coach. Her entire family is behind her, and will be cheering her on in Atlanta:

Shoemaker’s progress at this age has brought with it a beautiful, unexpected gift. So many top runners have their best athletic days in college or in their 20s, before they have spouses and children. For Shoemaker, the opposite has been true: She’s gotten better as she’s gotten older, and her kids, all runners, can understand and appreciate what she’s doing.

“They watched her remake who she was in front of them,” Jon said. “That’s pretty neat. They’re supportive, and they get to see their mom accomplish something in her adult life while they’re watching.”

→ Diversity is running is something we need to talk about more, which is why I was pleased to see Carolyn Su, the founder of the Instagram account @DiverseWeRun, be interviewed on the Ali on the Run show. Diverse We Run profiles runners on Instagram of a variety of backgrounds, all with different stories.

→ I hate iRun’s digital magazine interface, but if you can handle it, their most recent issue features a great article by Reid Coolsaet about Cam Levins. The piece feels very much like a changing of the guard, with Reid recapping Cam’s early career, his injury setbacks, then breaking through it all to become the fastest Canadian marathoner of all time.

American marathoner Molly Huddle wrote about why she trains with partners for Runner’s World: companionship, accountability, camaraderie, and more:

In high school, I ran my senior cross-country season as a one-girl team. I won almost every race that season, but my following season in college was way more fun, even though I wasn’t undefeated. Sports are meant to be enjoyable and pose challenges that help create or draw out your best self. There’s no question that running is hard. But when the effort seems to outweigh enjoyment, most of us find ourselves asking why we are doing it.

The Player’s Tribune talked to 15 women in sport about being labelled a “female athlete.” There aren’t any runners in the video, but it’s still worth a watch.

The final kick

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running. And always, if you want to get in touch, you can find me at runthenorthnews@gmail.com.