More reading and news from Toronto and NYC, Mary Cain speaks out and more

The unofficial theme of this issue is women in sport.


If you got Remembrance Day off, I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t, I hope you had a good day and don’t mind that this newsletter is coming at you on a Tuesday.

And I hope everyone took a moment to remember why we have this day.

This issue is a grab bag of podcasts, articles, social media posts and more coming out of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, New York and the running world in general. I write a bit about the Mary Cain news that came out this week and recommend a podcast and a newsletter, both about women in sports, that you should add to your reading/listening rotation.

Let’s get to it!

More reflection and recaps from the Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon took place on Oct. 20, 2019. I recapped what went down two issues ago, you can read it here.

Last week, I shared some articles and podcasts reflecting on the race. This week, I have a few more worth your time.

Dayna Pidhoresky blogs about winning Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Dayna Pidhoresky won the women’s Canadian race, breaking the tape in 2:29:03.. Finishing as the top Canadian and under the Olympic standard of 2:29:30 meant Dayna booked her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.

The race was a huge breakout for Dayna, and a seven-minute personal best.

Dayna keeps a blog on her website where she recaps her race results and training. She got around this week to writing about what happened in Toronto. She breaks the race down in 5K chunks, and the whole thing is worth reading:

35-40K in 18:30

I knew that now was the time to fight but I also knew that my legs were starting to feel less than great. A heaviness had taken over and I was worried I was slowing too much. I kept glancing at my watch to check my instantaneous pace but then I would forget what I saw and then have to check again. [Pacer] Jean-Marie continued to encourage me and I knew I was still well within reach of the Olympic standard time. I was still ahead of pace and just had to make it to the finish line so instead of pressing I played it safe. I made sure I could cross the line. I received feedback that Emily was about 1min40 behind and even though she was probably gaining I couldn’t see her and I didn’t think I was dying fast enough to be caught.

40-42.2K in 8:20

Jean-Marie was gone. He had orders to only pace until a maximum of 40K and he had done an amazing job. He shouted encouragement as he stepped off the course and now it was my job to bring it home. At 40K I saw that I was still ahead of my paces that I had scribbled on my hand before the race. Now it was just one foot in front of the other. Rounding the final corner I glanced back to be sure I was safe but I could already hear the announcer calling my name. The finish line was before me and I took note of the time, pumping my fist in celebration before breaking the tape. Then the realization of what we had just done overcame me and I was in complete shock and awe that everything came together at the perfect moment. This was my moment.

Dayna Pidhoresky is the latest guest on Women Run Canada

My interview with the great @daynapid is available for download! Here all about the finish line details @towaterfront42k, training talk, setbacks, mental toughness and more. #womenruncanada #badasswomenrunners #athleticscanada #bcrunner #marathon #tokyobound
November 4, 2019

Dayna was also a guest on the new Women Run Canada podcast, hosted by Kirsten Parker, who is the programs coordinator at the Manitoba Marathon.

In the episode, Dayna talks about moving up to the marathon, training alone, her race prep and what race day was like. She’s very quiet and down-to-earth and it’s a great episode.

It’s only the fourth episode of Women Run Canada (it launched this fall and episodes are dropping weekly), but it’s worth adding to your podcast rotation.

You can listen to the episode here.

Trevor Hofbauer and Dayna Pidhoresky stop by The Shakeout

Finally, Dayna did a podcast alongside the Canadian men’s winner, Trevor Hofbauer. The two of them stopped by Canadian Running’s podcast The Shakeout to discuss their big runs.

Trevor also had a huge day, also ran a seven-minute personal best to be top Canadian and punch his ticket to Tokyo. His time of 2:09:51 is the second-fastest Canadian marathon of all time.

This is the first piece of media where I’ve seen both Canadian champs together. I enjoyed it.

You can listen to the episode here.

A few more stories from the New York marathon

The New York City marathon was last week. Even though there wasn’t any direct CanCon to immediately come out of the race, I recapped it in last week’s newsletter.

Dan Way, Christy Lovig are the top Canadians

The official overall results weren’t out by the time Run the North hit your inbox last week. But I have them now. You can see them for yourself here.

The top male Canadian was Toronto-based science teacher and sometimes Canadian Running contributor Dan Way, who ran 2:30:50 to finish 78th overall.

I’ve never felt so humbled by the incredible support of so many. I don’t feel it’s entirely deserved but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired and motivated by it also. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
November 6, 2019

According to Dan’s Twitter, the 2:30:50 was a personal best.

He also tweeted he will be adding “top Canadian at the 2019 NYC marathon” to his resume and possibly his tombstone.

The top female Canadian was Christy Lovig, who ran 2:55:21 to finish 53rd overall. Christy is a lawyer based in Kelowna, B.C.

In February, the Vernon Morning Star profiled Christy, as she prepared to be a speaker at a Women in Business conference. She discussed finding balance as a lawyer and high-level marathoner:

Kelowna’s Christy Lovig doesn’t think much of the idea of “balance.” As a full-time lawyer, a running coach, and a professional marathon runner, one would think that balance would be something Lovig would find necessary.

“It’s a myth that we sell people,” Lovig said. “For me, the reality is that it’s more about being comfortable with a certain level of imbalance.”

It’s the same attitude that has served Lovig so well in her experiences in both the business world and in her marathon world; ever since her dad said, “everything is a race for Christy,” she’s embraced the imbalance of new challenges.

Liza Donnelly drew the NYC marathon… as she ran it

So I ran the NYC Marathon today! It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in part because of the generosity and kindness of the diverse city of New York. I love my city!! I ran to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Thank you to my coaches from Team In Training, who are the training arm of LLS! What a great organization, that does such important work in Cancer research.
November 4, 2019

Liza Donnelly is an artist and New Yorker. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, CBS and CNN.

She decided to run the New York City marathon, her first marathon, to raise money for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honour of her daughter Ella, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year. (Ella is now cancer-free, according to Liza’s post on Medium, which I get to in a bit.)

One of my drawings done during my #nycmarathon experience . These two guys were walking in front of me and were so sweet. #moredrawingstocome #nyc
November 6, 2019

Runner’s World profiled Liza after the race. The piece got even more attention when Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about it:

But it wasn’t until April when she did the Shape Half Marathon in New York City that she discovered she didn’t just have to run. Everywhere she looked during the race was a scene worthy of letting her creative juices flow, but she had neither paper nor her tablet.

Then, she realized there was still a way.

With the phone in her pocket, she opened up the Paper app and drew the sight in front of her: two women running together in pink tutus.

“I live draw wherever I go,” Donnelly said. “I usually do it on a tablet, but as I was racing, I only had my phone, so I drew what was in front of me. They are crude drawings, but you can tell what they are.”

Liza also wrote about her race on Medium. It’s an more in-depth piece and features all her drawings:

My plan for drawing was that I would draw during my walk breaks. Sometimes I drew what I saw if it was right in front of me for a while  — one of my fellow runners, or a view. Or, I would see something that I wanted to capture, I committed it to memory and drew it soon thereafter because it passed me by fairly quickly. There was so much to draw  —  mostly it was the onlookers I wanted to sketch. They touched my heart.

New Yorkers are a tough bunch, to put it mildly, but they are not afraid to show how they feel. The day of the marathon felt like one big huge block party, a day where New Yorkers show how proud they are of their city and of each other. For that one day, marathoners and street-side supporters together joined to celebrate life.

I crossed the finish line with more faith in people than ever before.

Liza finished in 7:12.

Anyone who donates to Liza, who hopes to raise $10,000, will be entered in a draw to win her drawings. If you donate $50, you’ll be entered in a draw to win one drawing, $100 will get you entered to win two drawings, $500 will enter you in a draw to win a set of five. Liza has raised just over $8,800 so far.

You can donate to Liza here.

Nancy Kiprop using her NYC earnings to fund a school in Kenya

Kenyan Nancy Kiprop placed fourth at NYC, crossing the line in 2:26:21. The 40-year-old mother of seven runs for a cause bigger than her bank account: she uses her winnings to fund a school just outside Iten, Kenya.

She earned $25,000 for her performance in NYC.

Runner’s World has an article with more details:

It started out as a vision, which took four years to become a reality. In 2014 and 2015, Kiprop earned money at various road races, and to get her school project off the ground she consulted her father, Cletius, about purchasing a plot of land.

Together they built two temporary buildings, but issues with the land and a shortage of money meant the project was put on hold for two years. “My dad was getting worried and telling me, ‘Are you able to accomplish this? Is this not too much for you?’ I was telling him to hold on, that things will be well.”

In 2017 she won the Vienna Marathon (2:24:20) and the Mattoni Ústí Half Marathon in the Czech Republic (1:07:22). Her earnings in those races provided the funds she needed to complete her project, and in January 2018, the doors finally opened at Nancie Cletius Academy.

It began with one teacher and six students, but has since expanded to six teachers and 145 students. Nancy’s husband, Joseph, drives a school bus around a two-mile loop each morning to pick up students, which he juggles with work on the family’s dairy farm. The students are aged between 3 and 7 years old, but the goal is to have a school that caters for children up to the age of 15. 

“We expect maybe 100 more students next year and more teachers, more workers, more buildings,” Kiprop said. “I have to work extra hard so I [can] pay for teachers.”

There was a relay from Toronto to NYC that ended in Central Park the day before the NYC marathon


On October 29, two RVs of runners setout to run 900km from Toronto to New York City, on a mission to redefine a running community.

We pushed ourselves to our most vulnerable states through sleepless nights, unpredictable weather, and mental and physical fatigue.
It’s in the moments when we are the most vulnerable, that we are best able to connect with our environment, ourselves, and others.

Through the genuine connections that were made along the way... our community helped us raise over $14,000 for @skylarkyouth. This will provide over 100 hours of free counselling to children & youth with mental health and developmental needs in the Toronto community. This could have not been accomplished without your love and support, and we are tremendously grateful.
The run was epic. But the run was merly a tool to expand our reach, and remind each other to move with purpose.

Thank you so much for being a part of our epic adventure🖤

Huge thank you to our sponsors:
📸 @jn.creative
November 2, 2019

Two teams of 12 runners ran from the base of the CN Tower to Central Park in New York over the three days before the NYC marathon. The entire journey is 900km. Dubbed “Escape to New York,” the initiative was designed to be a fundraiser for Skylark, a Toronto charity that helps children and families with developmental and mental health issues. In the end, they raised $14,000.

Runner’s World wrote about the race and did a Q&A with its organizer Quinton Jacobs:

Runner’s World: How did you start this?

Quinton Jacobs: Last year when we ran to Montreal, Andrew got injured a few weeks before we left for the race. He wasn’t able to run, but he came on the trip and managed the team of 10 in a way that held him as the unequivocal team MVP. We were in Montreal with the team celebrating our accomplishment. It’s hard to explain the feeling, but you’re sitting with this team of people that you’ve been tied to for three days, and they’re right there with you. But you miss them, because you know that the adventure is coming to an end. Andrew was mucking about on his phone and smiling, and when I asked him what he was up to. He showed me a Google map showing Toronto to New York City. The distance was ambitious, but both of us looked at each other and smiled.

While we were passing the idea back and forth, it was clear from the beginning that neither of us had any interest in building E2NY around athleticism, or around the actual running portion. We never once asked how we could make it faster or harder. Instead we asked how we could involve more people. How we could share this experience with more of our friends, family, and supporters.

Mary Cain speaks out

Mary Cain was the fastest ever female high school runner in the U.S. She was the youngest American to represent the country at an international senior meet when she wore red, white and blue at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.

She skipped the collegiate route to turn pro, signing with Nike’s Oregon Project and Alberto Salazar when she was 16.

She struggled on the team, and eventually quit, returned to New York, and pretty much disappeared from the running scene. She’s been returning slowly, quietly. She did the Cititus Mag podcast in May of this year, appeared in a video for Mammoth Lakes, and when she’s previously discussed leaving NOP, she just said it wasn’t a good fit.

Well, she’s back. And she’s speaking up.

Mary reached out to the New York Times’s Lindsay Crouse, ready to tell the world what happened.

What happened?

After signing with NOP, Alberto Salazar wanted her to get faster. And thinner. He became obsessed with Mary losing weight in order to perform better. He publicly shamed her for not losing weight. He yelled at her in public. He wanted her to take birth control and diuretics to lose more weight. She became so physically weak she lost her period and broke five bones. She became so depressed and full of self-hatred she began cutting herself. When she told Salzar this, he didn’t care. When she finally told her parents what was happening, she got out of there.

You can read the whole piece here. The companion video is embedded above.

Other athletes speak out

Several runners responded to Mary’s story. Some shared their own stories of pressure to lose weight and emotional and physical abuse, in the Nike system and outside it. The New York Times has rounded up some of the more prominent responses.

For example, Amy Yoeder Begley said that Salazar also wanted her to lose weight and Adam Goucher shared that Salazar thought his wife, Kara Goucher, needed to lose more weight after running Boston in 2:24 six months after giving birth.

Others, including Canadian Cam Levins, who was Mary’s NOP teammate, apologized, and said he knew of Salazar’s obsession with Mary’s weight.

He posted a Twitter thread, which you can click through to read:

Shalane Flanagan, who was not Mary’s teammate but was — and still is — sponsored by Nike, also apologized:

Trent Stellingwerff, a sports scientist who works with Team Canada, had a good thread about why our obsession with weight is misguided:

What’s next?

Mary wants to work towards making the sport better. She’s calling for more women in positions of power: coaching, at companies, in health and and rehab positions that work with athletes. And she’s calling for Nike to be held accountable and for culture across the sport to get better. She’s going to set up a platform for education. She’s putting the work behind her words.

Salazar, who is serving a four-year ban related to doping (he is currently appealing it) denied Mary’s claims.

Want to read more?

This week’s issue of Fast Women breaks this whole thing down better than I ever could, read it here.

They also have a piece by their editor, Sarah Lorge Butler, about the problems with this being presented as an opinion piece and not a sports piece at the Times, which is worth a read.

Forbes looked at the business impact of the negative press, including Mary’s claims, on Nike.

CBC Sports talked to Canadian athletes, including 10,000m record holder Natasha Wodak, about the claims and sports culture.

The hashtag #fixgirlssports popped up on Twitter. People are sharing their stories and making suggestions for how to improve the sport.

There is some content related to how and why Lindsay Crouse got this story below — she was a guest on a podcast and did an interview with a newsletter I feature later, so keep reading!

Thanks for reading Run the North! If you’re reading this online or it was sent to you by a friend, you can subscribe here:

Run the North covers running in Canada and running things that would be interesting to Canadians.

It comes out every Monday morning, except when Monday is a holiday (like this week, for some people). Then it comes out on Tuesday.

OK, back to the news!

Denise Robson breaks Canadian 50-54 marathon record in Indianapolis

Denise Robson, who is from Dartmouth, N.S., and runs with the Halifax Road Hammers, broke the Canadian masters 50-54 marathon record at the Indianapolis marathon on Saturday, Nov. 9. Her time of 2:49:05 is more than six minutes faster than the precious record, according to Canadian Running.

According to the same article, Denise knew the record was possible if she had a good day. But she’s had an issue with her Achilles tendon for the past two years. She came to Indianapolis healthy, ran a negative split, and the record was hers.

According to some Googling, Denise owns several local race records in the Maritimes, where she holds down a full-time job in insurance.

Maritime Runner did a short Q&A with Denise in 2017:

Q: Favourite distance?

A: Definitely the marathon. I just think I get better over the longer distance. I have little or no speed over shorter distances. Then again, you can be in the best shape of your life and anything can go wrong in a marathon. It’s still a daunting distance, but I just seem to be able to maintain my endurance and, the longer I go, the better I get.

Victoria Coates places third in Indianapolis half-marathon

Denise wasn’t the only Canadian to have a good day in Indy. Victoria Coates, who is based in Hamilton, ran 1:12:38 to finish third. The time is a personal best for the 28-year-old urban planner, and if she were American, it would have qualified her for the U.S. Olympic trials.

Victoria won the Indy half outright in 2017, which was the same year she won the Canadian 10,000m championships. Last year, she represented Canada at the world half-marathon championships.

CBC Sports profiled Victoria last year, just before the world half championships. After a successful collegiate career at Queen’s and McMaster, Victoria struggled with finding joy and motivation to run, but eventually found joy in the longer distances:

“Mentally,” she told CBC Sports, “it was too much too soon and I felt overwhelmed by the task of having to motivate myself. … I had some long talks about becoming a recreational runner, but being a serious runner had become part of my identity, so the thought of quitting was equally as terrifying as the thought of continuing.”

She kept at it, and has now represented Canada internationally and won some local races, including the 2019 Robbie Burns race in Burlington.

Marie Coolsaet won the Road2Hope marathon in Hamilton

In her first marathon, Marie Coolsaet broke 3 hours and won outright.

She broke the tape at the Road2Hope marathon in Hamilton (which took place the same day as NYC) in 2:56:08.

Marie, who grew up in Nova Scotia, ran for Queen’s University in college. She now lives and works in Guelph, Ont.

Raced my first marathon today @hamiltonmarathon . Finished in 2:56.08 for first place! All goals were met and I had fun hanging out with @reidcoolsaet for 32k of it.
November 3, 2019

The performance caught the attention of several elite runners, including Krista DuChene:

And, yes, she’s married to notable Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet.

Reid paced Marie for the first 32K, which he shared on his Strava.

She gave birth to their first child in 2016 and their second in 2018.

Sage Watson writes about winning PanAm gold

Canadian hurdler Sage Watson had a stellar 2019 season. She won gold at the PanAm Games in Lima, Peru, and she broke the 400m hurdles record at the world championship in Doha to earn a spot in the final.

With her season behind her, she reflected on what winning gold meant in a column for iRun:

I knew I had a chance at a medal if I put everything I had into that race. I came in second place in the semifinals and knew after that race that I was strong enough to run even faster. I talked with my family, coach and boyfriend before the race and they all told me I could do it — they had unwavering belief in me, and their belief led to my belief. I could win this thing. One of the best moments of the Pan Am Games was walking up to the start line for my final and seeing my Team Canada teammates in the crowd cheering my name. They believed. As I set my blocks to start the race, I felt as if I wasn’t alone. I knew my family was watching, and my coach, my teammates and all of Canada was there with me in the blocks. The gun went off and nothing was holding me back. At the final corner of the race, I saw the finish line and knew right then, with 100m to go, that I was going to win. I crossed the finish line first and threw my hands in the air.

Pro runners Molly Huddle, Alysia Montaño and Roisin McGettigan started a podcast and it’s great

Did you know Women’s sports in the US only get 4% of the sports media coverage?
We were frustrated with that statistic, so we decided to be proactive and start a podcast! 🏃🏼‍♀️
I love talking to @alysiamontano and @believetrainingjournal about anything and everything. We come together in our passion for the current and future landscape of women’s sports, so we have a lot of ideas to share with you! 🏃🏽‍♀️
We hope to highlight the inspiring athletes, lesser known stories and complex topics in women’s sports. It’s a valuable, entertaining and empowering space and we hope the podcast helps showcase that! 🏃🏽‍♀️
(Link in profile. Bear with us! We’re new at this and they’ll get better every time!)
(Shoutouts to @louismontano for editing , @whatcheerclub for studio use and @therudyallday for our outro song!)
October 17, 2019

American marathoner Molly Huddle (CANCON ALERT: Molly is pretty much an honourary Canadian because she’s married to one. Kurt Benninger is from Ontario ran at Notre Dame with Molly) started a podcast with fellow runners Alysia Montaño, an American middle-distance runner, and Roisin McGettigan, an Irish steeplechaser.

Keeping Track is about women in sports and women in track and field. As you can see in the IG post above, Molly, Alysia and Roisin started the podcast to address the lack of coverage of women’s sports in mainstream media.

There are four episodes so far. The episodes seem to be dropped at a not-quite-weekly pace.

In the latest episode, they talked to Lindsay Crouse about her work at the New York Times, where she’s written about Nike’s terrible maternity policies for sponsored athletes (this reporting featured Alysia) and about Mary Cain.

(CANCON ALERT: I am 99% sure Lindsay’s mom is Canadian, based on internet stalking, er, I mean, research).

Lindsay is covering important stories in sport and her work is getting noticed — she was recently the first woman to win the George Hirsch Journalism Award from New York Road Runners.

In the second episode, they talked to American hurdler Nia Ali about winning world championship gold after having her second child, Yuri, in June 2018.

(CANCON ALERT: Nia is Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse’s partner, and he’s the father of Yuri.)

It’s a great show, and I love hearing about news and commentary from the athletes’ perspective.

You can subscribe or listen here.

There’s a new newsletter about women and sports called Power Plays and it’s great

Speaking of needing more coverage about women in sports, a new newsletter launched a few weeks ago and I am already obsessed. It’s called Power Plays and it’s written by Lindsay Gibb.

Gibb is a sports journalist in Washington, D.C. She also co-hosts the sports podcast Burn It All Down and writes for The Athletic.

So far, Power Plays has covered how hard it is to buy WNBA championship merchandise, how it’s total BS that women sports are in peril, but it’s a narrative the media keeps trotting out and talked to Lindsay Crouse about how she exposed Nike for treating their sponsored women athletes.

Power Plays is currently free and comes out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

You can subscribe here.

The final kick

That’s it for this week! We’ll see you next Monday.

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