Mo Ahmed breaks Canadian 5,000m record, other strong Canadian performances in the Diamond League

Canadians also do well at Comrades and the NCAA DI championships!

Mo Ahmed breaks own Canadian 5,000m record

At the Diamond League meet in Rome on June 6, Mo Ahmed ran 12:58.16, placing sixth, in the 5,000m. The time broke his own Canadian record of 13:01.74 set in 2016 and qualifies him for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

It marks the first time a Canadian has gone under 13:00 for the 5,000m.

Mo represented Canada in the 2012 and the 2016 Olympic Games, finishing an impressive fourth in the 5,000m in 2016. He also holds the 10,000m record of 27:02.35, which he set at the world championships in 2017.

More strong Canadian performances in Rome

Mo Ahmed wasn’t the only Canadian to perform in the Diamond League this past week.

In the same race, fellow Canadian Justyn Knight ran 13:09.76, a PB for him and good enough for a 10th place finish. The time is also under the Olympic standard of 13:13.50, qualifying Justyn for Tokyo.

Before the meet, Justyn told CBC Sports that he wanted to run a personal best, so congrats Justyn!

Justyn recently turned pro, signing with Reebok Boston Track Club after graduating from Syracuse University, and I’ve shared a few profiles of him in past issues, including:

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who has broken three Canadian records so far this year, ran 4:01.28 in the 1,500m. The time is a PB for Gabriela and is just one second off the Canadian record set by Lynn Williams in 1985. The time is a Tokyo 2020 qualifier.

Her 2019 record-breaking performances were:

  • Jan. 4, 2019: Canadian indoor 5,000m: 14:57.45

  • Jan. 26, 2019: Canadian indoor mile: 4:24.8

  • May 30, 2019: Canadian outdoor 5,000m: 14:51.59

Brandon McBride finished third in the 800m, running a season best of 1:43.9, which is less than a second of his own Canadian record, which he set in 2018. Brandon also nabbed a Tokyo 2020 qualifying time with his performance. CBC Sports posted Brandon’s race on Twitter, which you can watch here.

Elite fields announced for Canadian 10,000m championships

The Canadian 10,000m championships will take place on June 13 at the 2019 Hertz Pacific Distance Carnival.

The men’s race will feature:

  • Rory Linkletter, who ran for Canada at the cross-country world championships this year

  • Ben Flanagan, who was the 2018 NCAA champion at this distance and recently turned pro and is running alongside Justyn Knight for the Reebok Boston Track Club

  • Lucas Bruchet, who ran the 5,000m in the 2016 Olympics

  • Evan Esselink, who ran a PB in the half-marathon in Houston earlier this year

The women’s race will feature:

  • Natasha Wodak, who holds the Canadian record in this event and recently won the Canadian 10K championships

  • Rachel Cliff, the Canadian marathon and half-marathon record holder

  • Kinsey Middleton, the 2018 Canadian marathon national champion

Notable international entrants include American Jared Ward, who placed sixth in Rio in the marathon and recently ran 2:09:25 at the Boston marathon and Scottish runner Sarah Inglis, who trains in Canada and recently set the Canadian 5K all-comers record.

Catrin Jones finishes ninth at Comrades

Canadian Catrin Jones finished ninth at the Comrades marathon, a gruelling 87K race in South Africa. The race runs between Durban and St. Pietermaritzburg and alternates direction each year.

Catrin ran 6:52:44, smashing her goal of a seven-hour finish.

Catrin is a Victoria, B.C., trail runner who ran run more than 20 marathons and plenty of trail races and ultras. This iRunFar profile from 2013 is old, but provides good background on her upbringing and how she got involved in running.

Calum Neff was the top Canadian male, running 6:18:25 to finish 40th.

How did Canadians do at the NCAA championships?

12 Canadians qualified for the NCAA DI track & field championships, which took place from June 5-8 in Austin, Texas.

Five Canadian athletes made the finals of their respective events, with two runners reaching the podium:

  • Charlotte Prouse came second in the 3,000m steeplechase. Her time of 9:44.50 was a personal best for the junior, who runs for University of New Mexico. Prouse also qualified for the 5,000m, where she placed 15th with a time of 16:26.57.

  • Ryan Smeeton, a sophomore at Oklahoma State University, ran
    8:39.10 to place second in the 3,000m steeplechase.

  • Kyra Constantine placed sixth in the 400m, running 51.47. The junior runs for the University of Southern California.

  • Laura Dickinson, a sophomore running at Syracuse University, placed 15th in the 10,000m. Her time was 34:03.76.

    Rory Linkletter, a senior at Brigham Young University, placed 15th in the 10,000m with a time of 29:55.21.

The trailer for Brittany Runs a Marathon is here

I am very excited for this movie. The premise is Brittany, an NYC party girl, is told by her doctor to get fit. Because she’s broke, she decides to take up running and, somehow, sets her sights on running the New York City Marathon.

Runner’s World has a good article about the film, which was inspired by filmmaker Paul Downs Collaizo’s college roommate, Brittany, who took up running:

“I watched her go for her first run,” Collaizo said at the film’s premiere on Monday. “Over the next few weeks after that, I watched her realize she was capable of more than she thought she was, and, as she endured a thrilling and arduous crucible of personal change. Brittany began to shift what she expected from herself. It was a triumph, and I got to witness it.”

Here’s another interview with Paul about making the movie:

The film received raced reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s being released by Amazon Studios later this year and should hit select theatres in North America.

Strides: links to read

American marathoner Steph Bruce wrote about balancing being a pro runner with being a mom for Self:

I’m a professional runner, so going back to work after both of my pregnancies meant something different than it might mean for other mothers: it meant that I was on the roads, training my body back into competitive shape. It wasn’t easy—during my first run after having Riley, at seven weeks postpartum, it felt like my uterus was about to fall out of me during that three-minute jog. The next run, I shit my pants. Yes, I laughed and I shit my pants. This is shit (ha ha!) you can’t make up and you can’t talk about in most settings, but it’s a shame because it’s real life. It’s not gross and shouldn’t be kept in the constraints of hospital walls and ob/gyn appointments. There should be more discussion from women, with women, and even with men about this.

Tempo Journal profiled the great American runner Shelby Houlihan, who has been dominant since turning pro:

At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Shelby’s team, the Bowerman Track Club, had their end of the year banquet. At the banquet, they hand out a series of team awards. Shelby, fresh off what many track and field talking heads called her “breakout season,”took home some coveted hardware — I failed to ask which one it was, so let’s just assume it was “Fastest 2018.” This particular award was presented by the man behind the BTC curtain himself, Jerry Schumacher. He started his speech with “she almost had a perfect year. It wasn’t quite what we wanted, but it was pretty good…”

She laughed as she said her teammates — assorted gold medalists, American Record Holders, and World Major Marathon winners, among others — kind of rolled their eyes at their coach and gave him a collective “you gotta be kidding me.”

“But I totally agreed with him!” says Houlihan. “It was almost perfect.”

The New York Times looked at the fascinating ultrarunning scene among domestic workers in Hong Kong:

Six days a week, Jaybie Pagarigan cooks, cleans and shops for her employers, a family in Hong Kong.

Then on Sundays — her one day off — she hits the trails.

Traversing the city’s lush and vast country parks, the 39-year-old domestic worker from the Philippines clocks in miles of running and thousands of feet in elevation as she conquers one peak after another.

Ms. Pagarigan is part of a growing community of maids in Hong Kong who have taken up trail running for the challenge of the sport and the opportunity to be treated as equals in a society that often discriminates against them.

In addition to long work days, one-day weekends and an exhaustive list of responsibilities, these domestic workers somehow find the time and energy to compete in mountain ultramarathons. They squeeze in training runs before the crack of dawn or late at night, and find creative ways to turn their household duties into training opportunities.

Women’s Running got advice from 103-year-old world record holder Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins:

“I try to do as many new things as I can. I never say no to an invitation. I like to go to plays and musicals and church and all kinds of places,” Hawkins said.

Her enthusiasm for new experiences ultimately led Hawkins to start running—at the age of 100.

“I thought it would be neat to do the 100-meter dash when I turned 100. My first year I did the 50-meter dash to see how that would go, and I fell in love with it,” said Hawkins, whose children signed her up for the 100-meter dash, following her first qualifying 50-meter run.

CBC Sports looked at the relationship Canadian middle-distance runner Lindsey Butterworth has with her coach, Brit Townsend:

[T]heir connection has paid off in big moments. At last summer’s national championships, Butterworth had a shot at the title. But the track meet was behind schedule, and the 800-metre runners were kept out in the sun during the delay.

Butterworth was unfazed. 

So was her coach.

They checked in with each other a few times during the wait, “I always show that I believe in them, I never have any hint that they could fail at what we're trying to accomplish,” says Townsend. 

Butterworth won that race.

“She took off with about 300-metres to go, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position when you're in the lead and she just continued on with this authority,” says Townsend.

The coach shouldn’t be the least bit surprised, after all, it’s what she would have done.

“She's really been one of the most influential people for me in this sport,” says Butterworth.

“I've really developed into the athlete I am today because of her.” 

The book to read this week

I’m about to run a marathon this weekend, so I appreciated the lessons I got from reading 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas. Meb, the great American marathoner, breaks down each of his 26 professional races and offers the lessons he learned from each one. It’s a great overview of what a long and successful professional career looks like, the challenges pro athletes face (like juggling family, keeping sponsors and getting older) along with takeaways that work for any runner, no matter your level or talent (like prioritize sleep, don’t try anything new and consistency being key to success).

The final kick

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running. If you enjoyed the newsletter, please pass it along to anyone who might like it!

If you want to get in touch for any reason, you can email me at I love getting feedback, hearing story ideas and more!

And finally, let’s go Raptors. If the entire Raptors roster had to race a mile, who would win? My money is on Pascal Siakam. But Kawhi might secretly be a four-minute miler, because that man is an enigma.