Natasha Wodak continues to dominate, Andre De Grasse is getting better and there's an interesting Tour de France competitor this year

This newsletter has a little bit of everything, when it comes to running news at least.

Natasha Wodak, Leonard Chesoo break course records at Lululemon Edmonton 10K

Natasha Wodak continued her win streak, breaking the tape at the Edmonton Lululemon 10K in 33:15. The time is a course record.

Rounding out the top five were:

  1. Jessica O’Connell (33:50)

  2. Gladys Tarus (35:02)

  3. Christy Lovig (37:02)

  4. Alecia Kallos (37:05)

That’s Wodak’s sixth win of the year. She also won the Vancouver half-marathon, the Vancouver Sun Run, the Pioneer 8K, the Canadian 10K road championships and the Canadian 10,000m championships.

Wodak will be representing Canada in the 10,000m at the PanAm games this summer and the IAAF world championships this fall.

On the men’s side, Leonard Chesoo topped a strong field. His 29:28 finish time was also a course record.

Rounding out the top five were:

  1. Evan Esselink (29:57)

  2. Cam Levins (30:14)

  3. Reid Coolsaet (30:15)

  4. Chris Balestrini (30:15)

This result was a PB for Esselink, whose previous best time was 30:20, which he ran at this same event last year.

Chesoo grew up in Kenya and came to Canada in 2018. He currently attends the Concordia University of Edmonton, where he runs on their cross-country team. He was named the 2018-2019 Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference (ACAC) rookie athlete of the year.

Cheseoo, who is 22, approached the school himself, according to a profile written for the ACAC website:

"He (Chesoo) reached out to me and asked me if I had a spot at the university and I said sure," said longtime Thunder coach Matthew Norminton. "I told him if he could get lined up with a student visa that we would love to have him."

The same profile says that they were hoping he’d break 30 minutes in the 10K within the next year. Next up? Sub 29.

He’s adapting well to the team environment and to Canada’s culture and climate:

Asked what he misses most about Kenya, Chesoo, who started running at age 14, replied: "My family and friends. I also miss my food...we have different food. We had no McDonalds or anything like that.

"Kenya can be very warm. I have never been in a cold place before but here in Canada it is cold. I have never seen snow before. I am waiting to see snow."

Evan Dunfee breaks 10,000m Canadian racewalk record

Evan Dunfee broke his own Canadian 10,000m racewalk record at the BC track & field championships this weekend. His time of 38:55 was nearly 30 seconds faster than the record he set in 2016, 39:21.

Dunfee is one of Canada’s best racewalkers. He will be participating in the 20K and 50K races at the PanAm Games this summer and at the IAAF world championships this fall.

De Grasse, Brown go 3-4 at Lausanne Diamond League 200m

Andre De Grasse dipped under 20 seconds for the third time season while teammate Aaron Kingsley Brown ran a personal best in the 200m at the Lausanne Diamond League on Friday.

American Noah Lyle won the race, in a meet record time of 19.50. His performance was a world-leading time and was the fourth fastest 200m ever.

De Grasse ran 19.92, which was 0.01 second off his season best this year and Kingsley Brown ran 19.95, topping his previous personal best of 19.98.

You can watch the race below.

Kingsley Brown also ran in the 100m at Lausanne, where be ran 10.07 to finish third.

10.07 is a season-best time for him at this distance.

American Justin Gatlin won the race in 9.92 and American Michael Rodgers took second in 10.01.

You can watch the 100m race below.

Brandon McBride places 4th in 800m at Lausanne

Brandon McBride ran 1:44:14, good for fourth place at the 800m in Lausanne.

The 800m Canadian record holder missed the 800m Diamond League final last year. The setback has fuelled him, he told CBC Sports, and had him and his coach rethink his approach to the 2019 season:

"It was a good experience and has worked out in the long run," McBride said. "It shaped me as an athlete and forced me to mature in how I manage my emotions and stress away from the track throughout the season.

"I said I never wanted to experience [missing a Diamond League final] again, so it was motivation entering this season."

His personal best, which is the Canadian record result he ran last summer, is

McBride spoke to CBC Sports after the Lausanne effort, where he said his fitness is there, he just made some small errors that cost him a better result.

You can watch the Lausanne race below.

Kathryn Drew finishes top 10 at Western States

Western States 100mile!! It’s hard to put into words what an incredible day this was. There were so many things that made it special but the most important to me was my crew. I can’t say enough about these amazing people who took time off work and came out to support me through this 100 mile journey. I couldn’t have done it without them. Whether it was Pre-race organizing, shoving calories at me, spraying me with sunscreen (sometimes right in my eyes 😝), changing my shoes or making a Beastie Boys music video at mile 80, this group ensured I was set and ready (and in great spirits) to run 100 miles. They helped me squeak in under 19hours and landed a spot as 8th female - which means I get an automatic entry for next year! Woo! I’m forever grateful to @runningwithboris @capmodel @codycallon @peak_power @jessebooi @aldipsn @supersocco and Jeremey for coming on this adventure with me! .
The power pack of women was back! The women’s field was insane this year and it was so fun to get to run with so many of them - especially through the snowy patches at the start. A special shout out to @kaytlyn_g and @ladiahallie for keeping the energy high and working together after dusty corners ❤️(Yay for pnw women!) Also, A huge congrats to my fellow Canadian @magnusgoatrunner for finishing top 20 and powering through a tough day! .
Getting to see coach @addiedoesstuff and @meg_runs_happy at the 100k mark for an ever so helpful pep talk and at the finish line was another highlight- David encouraged me to pursue this goal of running Western, and Im so grateful that he has always pushed me to ‘dream big'! Thanks to both of you for being such an awesome duo that brings so much joy to the running community! .
@wser you put on an incredible event and have some of the best volunteers and aid stations out there. It’s hard not to stop and hang out with them all day! Can’t wait to come back next year 🤗
A HUGE thanks to @kintecfootwear and @pipvass for believing in me and giving me support towards these races- especially Western States!
July 2, 2019

Look! I can embed Instagram posts now!

Canadian Kathryn Drew placed eighth at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, one of the most prestigious ultra races in the world. She crossed the finish line in 18:59:08.

According to Canadian Running, Drew, who is an events manager from Vancouver, was the only top 20 finisher of either gender to run unsponsored.

Trail Runner magazine profiled Drew earlier this year, as she was beginning to notch enough impressive ultra finishes that the community began to take notice. It doesn’t hurt she’s also gained a reputation for her upbeat attitude and positivity alongside her fierce competitiveness:

I was having a rough day, doing all I could just to get to the finish. Kat caught up and passed me, starting with kindness. “You are so amazing, and you look great. Come on, run with me, we got this!”

I responded in the midst of a cramp with something that probably sounded like Oscar the Grouch. “Grumble grumble agh ouch go on without me grumble.” She recalls that I might have yelled out, “SAVE YOURSELF.”

She smiled, and responded as she powered up the trail. “I believe in you, but you look like [crap] right now.” She used a different word than crap, knowing that it would make me laugh through the suffering in the middle of an Italian forest.

That’s Kat, the type of person that lifts everyone up, laughing as much as possible along the way. When I asked her about the biggest life advice she had for this article, I think she summarized herself in a single sentence: “Remember to have fun, be silly and not take yourself too seriously.”

She continued with a laugh, “Try not to worry too much and keep things in perspective, something I am still working on myself.”

You can follow Drew on Strava.

Did you know that the women’s course record at Western States is owned by a Canadian? Dual Canadian-U.K. citizen Ellie Greenwood set the course record of 16:47:19 in 2012. She represents the U.K. when she competes internationally, but lives in Vancouver and acquired Canadian citizenship in 2014.

Elite Canadian runner-turned-cyclist taking on Tour de France

I learned about Michael Woods this week and I am now obsessed. The former elite-level runner is now one of the best cyclists in the world, and is taking part in the Tour de France this year for the very first time.

Through the Daily Mail link above I found this Bicycling magazine profile — the quotes below are from that Q&A. He was also profiled by Rapha and the BBC.

All the profiles hit the same notes: excellent runner destined for great things, hit a few training roadblocks via injury and burnout, turned to cycling, had personal tragedy when his son was stillborn, used that to motivate himself to his breakthrough pro win as a cyclist.

Woods, like most Canadian kids, started a hockey player. But he was too small to make a real go of it, so he turned to running. He got pretty good, and was once ranked in the top 50 in the world in his age group in the 1,500.

In fact, he still holds the record for the fastest mile ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil: 3.57.48.

You’ve said that you started stealing your dad’s bike and going for rides when you were injured from running. What was your headspace like at this time?

Because I was good at a young age at running, I set high expectations for myself. A lot of people would tell me, “You’re gonna make the Olympics.” When I started getting injured, my career started falling apart. That was really a difficult time. I really identified as a runner, so I felt like I was falling apart as a person. As an 18, 19, 20 year old, you’re constantly getting validated, getting friends, because you’re running fast. I thought, “I’m a better person ‘cause I’m running fast.” But from about ages 20 to 24, I was just constantly injured, and pretty sad.

But he burned out, had a series of injuries and needed something new. In 2011, after needing foot surgery once again, his wife suggested he give cycling a try. In 2013, he turned pro.

Was there a moment or incident that convinced you to try to go pro as a cyclist?

Yeah. It was my wife, Elly. In 2011, after I broke my foot [for the last time], I was so upset. I had gone through another surgery, I had this story in my head that I was gonna make this massive comeback, and I broke my foot my first race back. Elly [who was Woods’s girlfriend at the time] could see that I was hurting, and she told me, “Why not make a go at cycling?” She said to me, “You were meant to be a great athlete. I’ll support you whatever you do.”

Looking back, it’s crazy how much she believed in me. So I was like, "I’m gonna try to be a pro cyclist." We were both totally naive to how hard it’d be.

The Tour de France takes place from Sat., July 6 to Sun. July 28.

Fall Canadian marathons

Training season for fall races is nearly upon us! Here are the dates for several upcoming Canadian marathons:

The book to read this week

Can you name the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal? Yeah, I couldn’t either.

The answer is George Washington Orton, who took home bronze in the 400m hurdles and gold in the 2500m steeplechase at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. History incorrectly identified Orton as an American for 70 years.

In addition to being one of Canada’s earliest running success, Orton is also credited with coming up with the idea to put numbers on football jerseys and for introducing ice hockey to Philadelphia. Oh, and when he was 3 years old, he fell out of a tree and was paralyzed — they said he’d never walk again.

Orton’s story is finally, comprehensively, told in The Greatest Athlete (You’ve Never Heard Of) by Mark Hebscher.

(Side note: I’m always on the hunt for more Canadian running books! If you have a recommendation, let me know.)

The final kick

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

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