Reid's running Ottawa, Yuki won Vancouver, and we know how the Canadian Olympic 2020 team will be chosen

It was a busy week, there's lots to read in this one! Oh and Eliud's going to try and break 2 again.

Athletics Canada announces Olympic selection process

Athletics Canada, the governing body that decides which track & field athletes get to go to the Olympics, has announced their criteria for making the Tokyo 2020 team.

Unlike previous years, when Athletics Canada had set their own, much harder, standards for some events, for 2020, athletes just need to qualify via the IAAF standards. IAAF plans to use a mix of time qualifiers and world rankings.

It’s a little confusing, and I explained it all in a previous newsletter, which you can check out here.

Here are the time standards athletes must achieve to qualify:

Canada can send up to three athletes in each event.

You can automatically qualify if you win the national championships/Olympic trials and hit the IAAF standard — either through time or world ranking. You don’t have to hit the standard AT the national championships, just within the qualifying window.

Or you can make yourself eligible to be nominated by Athletics Canada by qualifying through the IAAF standards. If three or fewer athletes qualify, everyone will be named to the team. If more than three athletes qualify, Athletics Canada will choose who gets to go, based on the following:

The factors to be considered by the NTC when ranking athletes will include, but may not be limited to:

  • World and domestic ranking;

  • Current form and fitness;

  • Proven ability to perform on demand;

  • Finishing position at the 2020 Trials;

  • Recent Head-to-Head record against other athletes under consideration

Since the IAAF standards are hard hitting it means you’ve set yourself up nicely. But the only way to guarantee your Olympic birth is by hitting the standard and winning a national championship.

You can read the PDF outlining it all for yourself here.

Reid Coolsaet is running the Ottawa Marathon

Reid Coolseat had to back out of the Hamburg marathon in April after a few training setbacks. The setbacks weren’t too serious, though, because last week he announced he will be running the 2019 Ottawa Marathon.

Reid wrote about the decision on his blog:

In my last blog I wrote how I was pulling out of the Hamburg marathon because I was behind in my training. It was an easy decision for me because I knew that if I could get quickly back into training then I’d have plenty of time to prepare for Ottawa. When I was scheduling a Spring marathon my five possibilities were Hamburg, London, Prague, Ottawa and Boston. It made sense to race at the end of April because we planned a Feb/Mar/Apr training camp/vacation and Hamburg had a good pace option for me. But when that date was out the window it was a no-brainer to pick Ottawa.

Reid is excited to return to the course where he ran his first marathon:

10 years ago I ran my debut marathon in Ottawa (2:17:09). I’ve always wanted to head back but I’ve actually only run four Spring marathons since then (2013 Rotterdam DNF, 2014 London 2:13, 2015 Rotterdam 2:11, 2018 Boston 2:25 9th place). It’s funny to think how green I was to the marathon in 2009. The thing I remember most is being very curious as to what the final 12 kilometres were going to feel like, (spoiler: it hurt!!). I’d say my race in Ottawa was a success as I hit my goal (qualified for 2009 World Champs) and wanted to race another marathon. I’m heading back to Ottawa with a good feeling about the race.

Reid also talked to iRun magazine about the decision.

Ottawa is a great pick, because it’s an IAAF gold label race. This means Reid has two shots at qualifying for the 2020 Olympics here: he can run under the 2:11:30 standard or he can finish top overall. It will also help his overall world ranking if he runs well.

Good luck Reid!

Canadians perform at Payton Jordan

The Payton Jordan Invitational track meet took place last week at Stanford, with more than a dozen Canadian athletes participating.

In the 10,000 Natasha Wodak ran 31:43.26, good for seventh place and under the standard for the world championships. Rachel Cliff ended up in 10th place, running 31:54.88. The world standard for the women’s 10,000 is 31:50. Kinsey Middleton finished in 33:23.82, good for 21st place.

Two men competed in the 10,000: Ben Flanagan ran 28:19.51, a personal best and 12th place finish. Rory Linkletter ran 28:12.42. The world standard for men is 27:40.

In the 5,000, Justyn Knight also nabbed his world standard, placing sixth in 13:20.80.

Fellow Canadians Keiran Lumb ran 14:17.15 and Jack Sheffar ran 14:25.40.

On the women’s side in the 5,000, Jessica O’Connell ran 15:30.61 and Erica Digby ran 15:39.10. The world standard for women is 15:22.

The third Canadian to score the world standard was steeplechaser Ryan Smeeton. Smeeton ran 8:27.90, which was a 14-second personal best, a world standard by two seconds, the second fastest time in the world in 2019 and the fastest time by an NCAA athlete this year. “I totally exceeded my expectations. On a good day I thought I’d run 8:37 or 8:36,” he told Canadian Running. “I’d say this was my breakout race. I’ve never made any Canadian team, so I’m hoping to sneak onto a team this summer. We’ll see how I’m feeling following the NCAA season.” 

Two other Canadians ran the steeplechase: Jean-Simon Desgagnes in 8:29.10 and John Gay in 8:31.40.

You can see the complete meet results here.

A day in the life of Justyn Knight and Ben Flanagan

Both Ben Flanagan and Justyn Knight are sponsored by Reebok. Reebok put out this “day in the life” video of the two, who train together as members of the Reebok Boston Track Club.

Leslie Sexton runs PB in Prague

Leslie Sexton, the 2017 Canadian national marathon champion, ran a personal best at the Prague Marathon, running 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.

Endurance Odyssey talked to Leslie about the race, which included the bold strategy of running solo when neither pace group suited her needs.

I realized pretty early on that I would be grinding it out Han style, so I focused on running at the right effort and staying positive. I hit 10k on pace, then slowed a bit, splitting halfway in 1:16:09. After 28k there was a long stretch into a slight headwind, but I passed a few men along the way and I felt like there was more in the tank. I was able to pick the pace up again over the final 12k, passing some more men and moving up from 10th to 8th in the womens race.

Running alone was hard at times, but whenever it got tough I thought about all of the solo workouts I have done in London and how running fast on my own is a strength of mine. That's not to say that I had no help getting here!

Yuki came to Canada! (and other Vancouver marathon results)

Yuki Kawachi, the former “citizen runner” and 2018 Boston Marathon champion, came to Canada and ran the BMO Vancouver marathon this weekend. He won, crossing the line in a course-record 2:15:01.

Yuki tweeted actively about his trip, which you should check out. It’s in Japanese, but Twitter’s translate function isn’t bad!

The women’s race was also a win for Japan, with Yuko Mizuguchi (who happens to be Yuki’s fiancee) winning in 2:41:28.

The half-marathon was won by Dayna Pidhoresky on the women’s side, who was using the race as a tune-up for her full marathon attempt at Ottawa. Dayna ran 1:13:07 which was mere seconds off the course record.

The men’s half was won by Kenyan runner Haron Kiptoo Sirma in 1:03:47.

The BMO Vancouver website has a recap of the race up, which includes Yuko commenting on how beautiful the course is:

“Running around Stanley Park in the midst of all that nature really gave me a nice boost,” says Mizuguchi. “Being able to see the ocean and the mountains – at some parts of the race, I found myself kind of distracted looking at how beautiful the ocean was.”

NHL stars run first marathon in Vancouver

There were more stars at BMO this year, including NHL players Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Their bib numbers matched their hockey jersey numbers. They played for the Canucks from 2000-2018. Daniel bested his brother, running 3:11:45 to Henrik’s 3:24:11.

I love when someone famous from outside running runs a marathon.

Diamond League season is here

It’s almost Diamond League time! The premier track and field series is especially important this year, as the World Championships and the 2020 Olympics are just around the corner.

CBC Sports has a great preview, highlighting five storylines to watch, including these track notes:

  1. The rise of 200m specialist Aaron Brown:

Aaron can definitely improve on his 19.98. It was new territory for Aaron to be the lone Canadian on the circuit competing in the sprints, and even with the added pressure he was able to finish fourth in the Diamond League finals in the 200m. That's impressive, and I think it was the justification he needed to show that he belongs at that level. With that added confidence, this season is going to come a lot easier to him, and times will drop.

  1. The comebacks of Canadian stars, including Andre deGrasse:

I saw Andre open up at the Florida Relays in the 4x100m and the 4x200m and he was flying. He's healthy and is coming back with a bit of a chip on his shoulder as a lot of his "supporters" have jumped ship — feeling like his career is over. It's important for him to come back and make people remember who he is and what he's capable of.

  1. Can Mo Ahmed have a breakout season?

Mo is always in the mix, but his field of competitors is deep. Distance runners need to be capable of handling various situations — maintaining strength when the early pace of the race is fast; have strong sprint speed to be able to have that finishing kick when the pace goes out slow; evading getting boxed in; picking the right times to make moves — overall [running] a tactical race. With Mo coming a difficult fourth at the Olympics in 2016, he has the motivation necessary to be able to push himself in his preparation to be on the podium in Tokyo. Starting with a league circuit is the best place to start to make that happen.

The whole article, which is structured as a Q+A with Anson Henry, is worth reading and covers field events as well.

CBC also will be streaming all 14 Diamond League events online, and will have some coverage on TV.

Here’s the Diamond League schedule:

  • May 3: Doha, Qatar                  

  • May 18: Shanghai, China               

  • May 30: Stockholm, Sweden           

  • June 6: Rome, Italy                       

  • June 13: Oslo, Norway                     

  • June 16: Rabat, Morocco                   

  • June 30: Eugene, USA                     

  • July 5: Lausanne, Switzerland       

  • July 12: Monaco                               

  • July 20: London, England               

  • July 21: TBC

  • Aug. 18: Birmingham, England         

  • Aug. 24: Paris, France                     

  • Aug. 29: Zurich, Switzerland           

She ran Boston for #MMIW

Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel is a runner from Kul Wičasa Oyaté/Lower Brule Indian Reservation and currently lives in Los Angeles. She ran the Boston marathon in honour of 26 missing and murdered Indigenous women — one for each mile in the race. The women’s names were painted on her body, along with the #MMIW hashtag.

From Jordan’s Instagram:

The last couple of years, I’ve been using my running platform to help raise awareness of an alarming issue: the epidemic & national crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn, Girls #MMIWG. It breaks my heart that I can even make a list of 26 sisters taken from our communities. For 26 miles, I said her name, with a prayer. I painted #MMIW on my legs, a red hand print covering my mouth to symbolize our sisters voices silenced & red, for the movement, this issue. 

Runner’s World profiled Jordan after the race:

“Any race that I do, I plan on doing research and finding more stolen sisters, stolen relatives that are part of this movement, which is heartbreaking in and of itself, but it’s to make sure that I’m giving them a platform and an opportunity to be voice and a presence, to be heard through my running,” Daniel said.

The 26 women she ran for are Amanda Webster, Savanna LaFontaine Greywind, Miranda Tenorio, Britney Tiger, Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, Lakota Rae Renville, Lucella Yazzie, Olivia LoneBear, Henny Scott, Ashlynn Mike, Jessika Alva, Josie Lee Head, Ariel Begay, Sunshine Wood, Raven Henry, Whisper Little Owl Horseman, Angel Rose Tomow, Lauren Two Bulls, Anela Gipp Alkire, Mariah High Hawk, Freda KnowsHisGun, Trinity Kriener, Anndiné Jones, Tamra Keepness, Noreen Osborne and Starla SpiritTrack.

She ran the last 0.2 miles for her grandfather, who introduced her to the sport of running.

Jordan completed Boston in 3:02:11 and now has her eye on the 2:45 Olympic trials standard.

(I discovered this link through the newsletter Fast Women. Fast Women covers the elite women’s running scene and comes out every Monday morning. You can subscribe here if you’re interested!)

Eliud’s next goal: all six majors, but first, let’s run 1:59

After winning London for a record-setting fourth time, Eliud Kipchoge let everyone know he’s open to mixing up his London in the spring/Berlin in the fall cycle he’s got going on, and wants to try his hand at the World Majors he has yet to run — New York, Boston and Tokyo — at some point.

There’s no timeline on this (as Eliud says, he only chases one rabbit at a time), but it means we’ll see Eliud back in North America! Also…. no one has won all six World Marathon Majors. If someone could do it, it’s Eliud.

But first: Eliud’s gonna go after 1:59 again. That’s the rabbit he’s chasing right now.

The Guardian has the details about this new attempt, which is being bankrolled by Jim Ratcliffe and his gas company INEOS:

Kipchoge confirmed that similar banned strategies, including using a pace car that acts as a giant wind-shield and having a phalanx of pacemakers who subbed in and out of the race, would be used in October. “It’s not about the IAAF, it’s about history,” he explained. “I really want to leave a big legacy.”

Organisers are hoping that the attempt will take place on a two-three kilometre circuit in London, either in a park or on closed roads. But they admit they will need the authorities to be flexible on dates as they need a two-week window in October to enable them to run on a day when it is around 12C, dry and with little wind. Whether the British weather will be so obliging, however, is another story.

Breaking 5

This short film, which is about several 2:40 marathoners helping their friend, who they call “the worst runner in the world” and “lazy and untalented” break 5:00 is everything.

(I discovered this link through Erin Strout, who runs the digital at Women’s Running. You can follow her on Twitter @erinstrout.)

Evan Dunfee, race walker and great guy

The Richmond Sentinel wrote a profile of Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee. Evan finished 4th at the Rio Olympics in the 50K race walk and recently qualified for Tokyo 2020. He walked the BMO Vancouver marathon this past weekend in a time of 3:27:15.

The profile covers Evan’s race walking origins, his almost-bronze-medal performance and how what drives him and shifted from performance to giving back. He recently walked 25k every day for 25 days and did 25 school talks in an effort to raise $25,000 for Kid Sport.

Never one to look too far into the future, Dunfee says he didn’t anticipate what this stage of his life might look like but can’t imagine doing anything else. He doesn’t think of himself as being more committed or determined than anyone else, and in fact looks at people who fit their love of running in and around a full-time job, wife and family and often doubts he could do the same.

“I work hard and I have a goal which I try as much as possible to pursue. I’m quite good at getting into my own head and disappearing down some rabbit hole trying to steer me off course. But while I bend, I never break. I spent a lot of years trying to pretend to be someone I’m not, but I think I’ve finally found happiness projecting a true and honest reflection of myself and really hope that shines through.”

Mark your calendars

Be sure to mark your calendars for the following big-time Canadian races and meetings coming this summer.

  • May 25: Canadian 10K championship in Ottawa

  • May 26: Ottawa Marathon

  • June 13: Canadian 10,000 championships at the Pacific Distance Carnival

  • June 15: lululemon Toronto 10K

  • June 16: Canadian half-marathon championships in Winnipeg

  • June 20: Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic

  • July 7: lululemon Edmonton 10K

  • July 25-30: Canadian track & field championships

  • Jul 26-Aug 11: PanAm Games in Peru

The book to read this week

A girl runner was the biggest running story this week. It’s purposefully not in this newsletter, but it did remind me about this 2014 novel by Carrie Snyder.

Girl Runner is the (fictional) story of Aganetha Smart, who ran the 800 metres at the 1928 Olympic Games. In real life, the 800 metres was cancelled until 1960 after 1928, seemingly because the woman exerted themselves too much. This happens in the book too and the cancellation, taking away the thing Aganetha loves most (not to mention helps pays her bills), sends her spiralling.

Girl Runner is a great blend of fact and fiction and an examination of what it means to be a world-class female athlete when the world isn’t ready, and doesn’t want to be, for that.

The final kick

Steph Bruce won the USATF half-marathon championships this weekend. So she knows what she’s talking about.

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running. If you want to reach out for any reason, you can find me at