Ottawa was hot, hot, hot in more ways than one

Here's an Ottawa race recap for you and a round-up of other Canadian running news from the week

Ottawa was a hot race, in more ways than one

Ottawa is one of two Gold Label marathons in Canada. The other is the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. Gold Label means the event is world class and it draws some of the best runners both from Canada and around the world to the start line. This year was no exception, with one of the fastest fields ever assembled for the men’s race.

The 10K during Ottawa race weekend is also a Gold Label race and doubles as the Canadian 10K road championships.

The weekend was hot. It usually is. But strong performances and interesting storylines emerged from all four races, so read on!

Albert Korir wins men’s marathon

Kenyan Albert Korir was the first across the line at the Ottawa marathon on Sunday. He finished in 2:08:02, which is a 15-second personal best for him. Korir was a bit of a surprise winner, with six other runners in the race with personal bests faster than his. Korir made his move at the 40K mark, when Abera Kuma, who would place second, slowed to water from an aid station.

“Kuma is a strong guy. I didn’t know that I will beat him, but at 40 I saw he is somehow getting weak, so I made a move to go,” Korir told PostMedia after the race. “I didn’t know that I could improve, but the weather today was good, the course was flat. It’s a great achievement.”

Ethiopian Kuma finished just behind Korir in 2:08:13. Rounding out the top 3 was another Ethiopian, Tsedat Ayana, who ran 2:08:52.

Reid Coolsaet is the top Canadian

Reid Coolsaet ran 2:17:37 to place eighth overall. It wasn’t the time or the placement he was looking for — he had his sights set on a qualifying time for the world championships in Doha and/or a top 5 finish — but he posted he was happy, all things considered, on his Instagram: “Lots of positives to take from this build-up and race. I’m happy with how I fared today given the circumstances.”

Alister Gardner was the second Canadian finisher. He ran 2:31:54 to place 14th overall. The third Canadian was Francois Landry, who ran 2:36:51 to finish 17th overall.

Top 10 men

The top 10 men overall were:

  1. Albert Korir (Kenya): 2:08:02

  2. Abera Kuma (Ethiopia): 2:08:13

  3. Tsedat Ayana (Ethiopia): 2:08:52

  4. Martin Kosgey (Kenya): 2:10:18

  5. Adugna Takele (Ethiopia): 2:10:27

  6. Getu Feleke (Ethiopia): 2:10:39

  7. Mohamed El Talhaoui (Morocco): 2:15:30

  8. Reid Coolsaet (Canada): 2:17:36

  9. Bijan Mazaheri (USA): 2:22:10

  10. John Bleday (USA): 2:25:24

Ethiopia sweeps the podium in women’s race

Ethiopia’s Tigist Girma won the woman’s race in 2:26:33. It’s a personal best for Girma by 11 seconds, she ran 2:26:44 in China in December 2018. It’s her third marathon victory, she previously won marathons in Lebanon in 2018 and China in 2018.

This was the first time she has run in North America, and she came to Ottawa in search of a competitive race.

“The main difference is there are good competitors in Ottawa compared with the previous marathon races. I was thinking that the race could be really competitive, and that’s good,” she told PostMedia after the race.

Ethiopians swept the podium in the women’s race. Betelhem Moges placed second in 2:26:59 and Etaferahu Temesgen was third in 2:28:43.

Fellow Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye, a multi-World Marathon Major winner who has a personal best of 2:19:41, was supposed to make her anticipated return to racing after having her first child. But she withdrew from competition earlier this week due to a hamstring injury.

Canadian women place 6-7-8-9-10

Dayna Pidhoresky was the first Canadian across the line, running 2:37:19. She was sixth place overall. The run was more than a minute of her personal best, which she set in Ottawa in 2017.

On Twitter, Dayna said that she thinks she had a better race result in her, but there were a lot of positives to draw from:

Krista DuChene was the second Canadian to finish, taking seventh place overall in 2:38:45. It was Krista’s second marathon of the year — she also ran Boston in April. Krista kept the fact she was running Ottawa a bit quiet and was looking for redemption from what she felt was a disappointing race in Boston.

Krista was quick to turn around a race recap for iRun, where she says she came prepared for the weather and was pleased with her race:

Today’s race reminded me a lot of my experience at the Olympics where I had prepared for the likely conditions of the day. I braided my hair the same way, wore the same white visor and Smith sunglasses, consumed every bottle and gel, and dumped cups of water on my head at every opportunity. It was even the same with Natasha Wodak, running around to cheer for us on various spots on the course, just after completing her own 10 km race! 

Rounding out the Canadian top three was Rachel Hannah, who ran 2:41:31 to place eighth overall. Rachel said she had a rough day but fought hard to the finish:

Olympic-skier-turned-long-distance-runner Anne-Marie Comeau was the fourth Canadian across the line, ninth overall, in her debut at the distance. Her time was 2:43:58.

Top 10 women

Here are the top 10 women overall at Ottawa:

  1. Tigist Girma (Ethiopia): 2:26:33

  2. Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia): 2:26:59

  3. Etaferahu Temesgen (Ethiopia): 2:28:43

  4. Salome Nyirarukundo (Rwanda): 2:30:43

  5. Risper Chebet (Kenya): 2:31:55

  6. Dayna Pidhoresky (Canada): 2:37:18

  7. Krista Duchene (Canada): 2:38:45

  8. Rachel Hannah (Canada): 2:41:30

  9. Anne-Marie Comeau (Canada): 2:43:58

  10. Liza Howard (Canada): 2:47:38

Natasha Wodak win Canadian women’s 10K road championships

The 10K on Ottawa race weekend is run on Saturday night.

The women’s field was stacked, with several marquee names toeing the line. In the end, Natasha Wodak took home her first-ever 10K championship trophy. She ran 32:31, which is her second-fastest 10K road time ever. Natasha has placed second in this race the past four years.

“I learned that over the last few years: Just get in it, be strong, repeat positive affirmations in my head. During the race, I’m saying, ‘This is your race. You are going to win the title. Yes, you can.’ Just repeat, repeat, even when I started to hurt and I started to fall off,” she told PostMedia after the race. “I kept saying, ‘Don’t look back.’ I didn’t look behind me once. I just kept running as hard as I could.”

Natasha placed eighth overall in the race.

The second Canadian across the line was Malindi Elmore, who has been making a name for herself all year since her marathon debut in Houston in January. Malindi ran 32:57, which is three seconds faster than the personal best she set in Vancouver in April of this year. Malindi placed ninth overall.

Emily Setlack came in third, running 33:03. That’s a 40+ second personal best for Setlack, who is having a breakthrough year. She ran an 11-minute personal best in the marathon in Rotterdam in April. Emily placed 10th overall.

Here’s the rest of the top 10 in the Canadian women’s field:

  1. Jessica O’Connell: 33:23 (11th overall)

  2. Tamara Jewett: 33:32 (12th overall)

  3. Kinsey Middleton: 34:15 (13th overall)

  4. Robyn Mildren: 34:34 (14th overall)

  5. Jennifer Murrin: 34:44 (16th overall)

  6. Hannah Woodhouse: 34:57 (17th overall)

  7. Claire Sumner: 35:35 (18th overall)

Dylan Wykes wins Canadian men’s 10K road championships

Dylan Wykes won the Canadian men’s 10K road championships. His 29:56 time saw him cross the line sixth overall, and a mere three seconds ahead of the Canadian runner-up, Justin Kent.

Wykes previously won this championship in 2007. He’s the fourth fastest Canadian marathoner of all-time, and represented Canada in the Olympics at the marathon distance in 2012.

He’s recently re-located to Ottawa for his wife’s job (she’s a prof at Carleton University) after several years in British Columbia, so it’s extra special to see him win a national championship on the roads he now runs regularly.

Justin’s 29:58.3 time was good for seventh overall. The up-and-coming runner has had a solid 2019 thus far, running well at the world-cross country championships and in races like the Vancouver Sun Run. I expect he will become a bigger name on the Canadian running scene very soon.

Third place in the Canadian men’s race was Phil Parrot-Migas, who was juuuuuust behind Justin in 29:58.8.

Rounding out the men’s top 10 are:

  1. Chris Balestrini: 30:08 (ninth overall)

  2. Connor Black: 30:26 (11th overall)

  3. Brendan Wong: 30:43 (12th overall)

  4. Kevin Coffey: 30:52 (13th overall)

  5. Pier-Olivier Laflamme: 30:52 (14th overall)

  6. Colin Fewer: 30:52 (15th overall)

  7. Jeffrey Archer: 31:02 (16th overall)

Andre DeGrasse is back!

Andre DeGrasse is showing everyone he’s back in world-class form. He ran 10.09 at the IAAF World Challenge in Nanjing, China, placing second overall in the event. It’s his fastest time at the distance since June 2017.

DeGrasse has largely been out of the spotlight since the Rio Olympics in 2016 as he has been dealing with injuries.

It was his second strong race in as many weeks. DeGrasse placed second in the 200m the week before at the Diamond League event in Shanghai. He was beat out by fellow Canadian Aaron Brown.

Damian Warner runs 10.12 in the 100m in the decathlon

Damian Warner just ran 10.12 in the 100m in the decathlon at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, Austria. It’s the fastest time ever recorded in a decathlon, and broke Warner’s own world record of 10.15 from the same meet in 2016.

Damian won the decathlon with 8,711 points, which is the most points scored by any athlete in 2019 so far.

You can watch the 100m race below. The commentary isn’t in English.

Strides: Links I liked

Runner’s World has a profile of Matt Scoletti, who decided to run the Pittsburgh marathon wearing an 11-pound vest, one pound for each life lost in the shooting that happened at the Tree of Life, Dor Hadash, and New Light House of Worship in October. Matt isn’t a member of the synagogue, he isn’t even Jewish, he just felt he needed to stand up against the hate he’s seeing in the world and show everyone that Pittsburgh is a city of love and acceptance:

For four and a half hours, Scoletti not only ran the marathon, but also hugged people who ran from the sidelines to embrace him because of that vest and sign. He estimates getting pats on the back probably around 50 times, and he had tears streaming down his cheeks for much of the way.

Just before the finish, one man stepped out with a huge smile and outstretched arms. Only after embracing him did Scoletti find out it was Alan Hausman, the vice president of Tree of Life synagogue.

He told Scoletti, “I’ve been waiting for you. In honor of our community, and you having the courage to put love at the forefront of all this, I wanted to go across the finish line with you.”

Hand in hand, they crossed, and Scoletti said with a laugh, “I totally lost it. I’d been emotional and crying during the race, but I was ugly crying then.”

Prior to the Ottawa marathon, iRun asked former Canadian marathon record holder  Silvia Ruegger to write a letter to everyone racing that weekend:

You will able to do it. Although it is a physical battle to be sure, the mental one is the biggy on the day. Even if somewhere along the way your expectations change, it’s not the end of the world. You will extend yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and there is great reward in that. You will never be the same.

→ I wish I could embed Instagram posts into this newsletter, but I can’t yet. Instead, you have to click through to read the amazing story Krista DuChene’s daughter wrote about her family’s trip to Rio to see Krista run in the Olympics:

She was 35. Then we found out a girl cheated so she was kicked out and my mom came 34.

Leslie Sexton wrote a recap of her marathon in Prague for her coaching blog. Leslie ran a personal best, 2:31:51. The performance is the 13th fastest all-time on the Canadian woman’s marathon list and is the second fastest marathon of 2019, behind Rachel Cliff’s record-setting run in February.

This race was by far the best I have ever felt at 30k, and that 35-40k split probably shows I left slightly too much in the tank! Of course it is easy to say that now, knowing that I felt strong and ran my fastest splits in the final 12k. It’s a long race and I only do it once or twice a year. With each marathon I gain knowledge and experience, particularly in terms of how my body should feel and where my effort level should be at different stages of the race. On this occasion, knowing I would be on my own for most of the race, I didn’t want to push so hard (especially before halfway) that I risked redlining too early and blowing up. If you’ve been there before, you know how much it sucks and how bad that last 10k can be. But going forward I can take away the lesson that I need to keep those middle kilometers more honest. Overall I was very happy with my race execution on the day and how I handled the race from a mental standpoint.

→ The Raptors won the Eastern Conference and are moving on to the NBA Finals, but I appreciate that CBC Sports wrote an entire article about other athletes supporting Canada’s basketball team.

The final kick

That’s it for this week! Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors, who “Ran the East” (good slogan, NBA) and are headed to the NBA finals for the first time.

Basketball was and will always be my first sporting love. Let’s win it all.

Thanks for reading and keep on running. If you want to reach out for any reason, you can email me at