This week has been bananas: world championship stuff and Berlin marathon results in this issue

2:01:41 at Berlin! Lyndsay Tessier! Evan Dunfee! Doha is hot as hell!


The world championships are underway! You can find the highlights from the first three days below. Canada has won two medals so far, which is two more than we won in 2017. (If you’re bad at math, that means we won zero medals in 2017.)

The Berlin marathon happened! More details can be found below, but let’s just say that the sub 2:00 marathon is closer than we think.

Also below are some other links and news to check out.

The next big events on the racing calendar are the Chicago marathon (Oct. 13) and Eliud Kipchoge’s second attempt at breaking 2:00 in the marathon (Oct. 12, if weather cooperates). I think he’s going to do it.


The world championships are great and also terrible

There are two big stories coming out of the world championships this year: how great the performances have been and how hot and terrible Doha is for this event.

The production values of the finals have been A+, but there’s hardly anyone in the stands to enjoy it. Add the insane heat to the mix, and it puts a big question mark on why the world championships are being held here at all.

CBC Sports is doing a great job of streaming and covering the events from Doha (with the exception of the racewalk, what the hellllllllll). Check it all out here.

As an aside, physiologist Trent Stellingwerff has been fun to follow on Twitter. He’s the director of performance solutions for Team Canada and is offering a unique inside perspective on the games and how athletes are prepping for such conditions.

The world championships run until Oct. 6.

Lyndsay Tessier places ninth in the marathon

41-year-old Lyndsay Tessier — who is a full-time elementary school teacher — finished ninth in the marathon, running 2:42:03.

It’s only the second time a Canadian woman has finished in the top 10 at the world championship marathon, the first was Jacqueline Gareau who placed fifth in 1983, running 2:32:35.

This was the first time Tessier has been named to a Canadian international team.

Tessier spoke to CBC Sports after the race. I can’t embed the video here, but you can watch it in the CBC Player.

The race was held in horrid conditions, with temperatures over 35 degrees and soaring humidity. 68 women started the race and 40 finished — that’s a DNF rate of 41%.

Tessier is now the second Canadian woman to have qualified for the 2020 Olympic marathon, after record holder Rachel Cliff. Whether she’s named to the team is still TBD — it depends on how many other women qualify. If you want to know more about the qualification and selection process, I outlined it all here.

CBC Sports profiled Tessier ahead of the race:

“I am admittedly frightened by the conditions,” Tessier, a native of Scarborough, Ont., said on the eve of her world championship debut.

“The heat and humidity are unlike anything I've ever experienced. But all of the women are in the same boat and I find that comforting, uniting and bonding.”

Tessier was quoted in a story for the Guardian about how dangerous the conditions were in Doha and how having the world championships there is potentially bad for the sport:

Canada’s Lyndsay Tessier, who finished ninth, said: “You see somebody down on the course and it’s just extremely grounding and scary. That could be you in the next kilometre, the next 500m. It was really scary and intimidating and daunting. I’m just really grateful to have finished standing up.”

The top 10 was:

  1. Ruth Chepngetich 2:32:43 (Kenya)

  2. Ruth Chelimo 2:33:46 (Bahrain)

  3. Helalia Johannes 2:34:15 (Namibia)

  4. Edna Kiplagat 2:35:36 (Kenya)

  5. Volha Mazuronak 2:36:21 (Belarus)

  6. Roberta Groner 2:38:44 (USA)

  7. Mizuki Tanimoto 2:39:09 (Japan)

  8. Ji Hyang Kim 2:41:24 (North Korea)

  9. Lyndsay Tessier 2:42:03 (Canada)

  10. Un Ok Jo 2:42:23 (North Korea)

Canada had two other athletes in the race: Melanie Myrand ran 2:57:40 to finish 27th and Sasha Gollish dropped out at 25K, citing extreme heat exhaustion.

Other notes:

  • Edna Kiplagat is 39 years old and is still on top of her game.

  • Fifth place finisher Volha Mazuronak from Belarus won the European championships earlier this year running with a bloody nose. The photos of her from that race are gruesome and badass.

  • American Roberta Groner is also a 41-year-old masters runner with a full-time job on her first masters team. Groner placed sixth, and she’s running NYC next on Nov. 3. The Runner’s World story about her is worth reading. The women’s American Olympic marathon trials are going to be VERY INTERESTING.

Evan Dunfee wins bronze in 50K racewalk

Evan Dunfee came third in the 50K racewalk, crossing the finish line in a time of 4:05:02.

His race execution was perfection, he slowly worked his way from 20th place at the beginning to third and dropped his fastest 10K in the entire race in his last 10K stretch.

Race day was Dunfee’s 29th birthday.

After the race he said his medal was for the legacy of racewalking Canada and everyone who came before him:

 “This follows a long lineage of amazing race walking in Canada,” said Dunfee who was fourth in the same event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. “Following their footsteps learning from them, Guillaume Leblanc in ’92 in the 20-kilometres and then more recently, Ben Thorne my teammate winning bronze in the 20.”

 “Ben, myself, Inaki Gomez, we were all training partners, we all won Team Challenges, this medal is as much theirs as it is mine. My coach Jerry Dragomir and I have been working together for nine years, it’s just so nice to get here, finally to get onto the podium, this medal belongs to so many people.”

Dunfee was the co-captain of the Canadian team, alongside javelin thrower Elizabeth Gleadle.

Dunfee shared his fuelling plan on Twitter before the race. Check it out here and let’s just say it’s intense.

Fellow Canadian Mathieu Bilodeau also had a strong run, finishing in 4:21:13 for 14th place.

Other notes from the race:

  • Both Dunfee and Bilodeau shared on social media that they listened to Taylor Swift when they were getting ready for the race. As someone who listens to a lot of Taylor Swift, I love this. Her last name is SWIFT, it’s perfect pre-race music. If you need some new running tunes, play Taylor’s The Man during a speed workout. When she sings “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can,” you will feel seen.

  • Second place finisher João Vieira from Portugal is the oldest person to win a medal in this event at 43 years old.

  • 46 athletes started the race. Four were DQed and 14 did not finish. That’s a DNF rate of 39 percent, which is slightly less than the women’s marathon.

Andre De Grasse runs 9.90 to win 100m bronze

Andre De Grasse ran a personal best of 9.90 to claim the bronze medal in the 100m. This is the fifth world championship bronze De Grasse has taken home since he started racing on an international stage.

De Grasse talked to CBC Sports after his run:

"I'm pretty grateful to get a personal-best out of it and pretty satisfied coming off injuries and being out of the sport the past couple of years," a smiling De Grasse, who collected Canada's first medal of these worlds, told CBC Sports' Scott Russell. "Moving forward, I know I can get better and I'm looking forward to running the 200 [in Doha] and see what I can do there."

Topping De Grasse were Americans Christian Coleman (9.76) and Justin Gatlin (9.89). Who, um, don’t have the best reputations. Coleman missed three drug tests in 12 months and is here on a legal technicality and Gatlin has been busted for doping twice:

De Grasse’s daughter waving to the crowd during their victory lap was the highlight of the night. You can see the video here.

Canadian Aaron Brown also made it to the final. He ran 10.08, which put him in eighth place.

He was OK with his performance, but knows he has more to give:

CBC Sports had a good article about what is happening with the 100m event now that Usain Bolt is retired:

In fact, the 48-hour buildup to the inevitable showdown, which lasted less than 10 seconds, seemed even more interesting than it has in the past few editions of the track and field summit.

Beginning in Berlin in 2009, it was all about Bolt and how fast he could go – what record would he set next?  

Here in Qatar, in the absence of Bolt, the race, not the time, became the most important thing.

They still dimmed the lights, lit up the track, and played music which rose to a crescendo as the contestants were introduced. None of the sprinters preened and pranced as Bolt might have done, because they didn't have an image to project or a need to be adored. They just desired to win the biggest running race there is.

About those conditions…

The Guardian article I linked to above is pretty damning:

In signs of a growing backlash, Belarus’s Volha Mazuronak, who finished fifth in the women’s marathon in the early hours of Saturday morning, claimed the sport’s governing body had shown disrespect by staging the race outdoors. Forty out of 68 runners finished the race, and several others were carried off the course on stretchers looking in a bad way.

“The humidity kills you,” Mazuronak said. “There is nothing to breathe. I thought I wouldn’t finish. It’s disrespect towards the athletes. A bunch of high-ranked officials gathered and decided that it would take the world championships here but they are sitting in the cool and they are probably sleeping right now.”

CBC Sports wrote about the conditions, and showed how IAAF is trying to spin it into no big deal:

IAAF president Sebastian Coe bristled at the notion that taking world championships to the desert in September was folly, and wouldn't bite when asked about speculation that more than half of Friday night's 70-woman field might not finish the race. He said there will be more water, and more medical staff, on the course.

Everyone will be keeping a keen eye open for signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“We want as many people to finish in as good a shape as possible,” Coe said. “The medical team will be very alert. The heat is not the big issue. Anyone who has run or competed knows you can deal with heat, but humidity is a challenge.”

Fast Running wrote an article titled Is Doha Good for Our Sport:

I fully understand the IAAF’s desire to spread the sport. There’s a lot of money in that. I am however confused about how an empty stadium, and races where 41 of the field cannot finish contribute to spreading the appeal of athletics? There is an overriding feeling that money, greed and corporate interests will leave us with a championships heavy on polish, light on soul.

I don’t spread a sport from the top down. You don’t drive participation and fans by throwing billions at at problem. Holding a major championships seems to make more sense to be the icing on the cake of a nation’s passion for a sport not a way of creating a passion that doesn’t exist. Even if this honestly were the goal of the IAAF the empty stadiums tell us it’s not succeeded. Of course there may be a longer term legacy for participation and interest in athletics in Qatar but the evidence from the past doesn’t leave me with much faith.

Of course, as always the athlete’s will save the IAAF and the games. They always do.

The Berlin marathon was one to remember

Kenenisa Bekele runs 2:01:41, misses world record by two seconds

In a run no one expected, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele missed the marathon world record by two seconds. He becomes the world’s second 2:01 guy, winning the Berlin marathon in 2:01:41.

At 30K, Bekele looked out of the race, which had a blistering pace from the beginning. But he charged over the final 12K to take the lead and produce one of the greatest marathon performances of all time.

Bekele’s post-race comments were hilariously understated for someone who just ran within two seconds of the world record:

“I don't give up. I have had difficult injuries, until only three months ago, but I am happy to run my personal best,” he said after the race. “I had a tight hamstring at 31K and had to slow down, but then it recovered and I was able to retake the lead.

“I knew I was very close to the record, but I couldn’t quite make it. Before the race, I did not expect a world record, so I am very happy to take 80 seconds off my personal best.”

His team, NN Running, released a piece about his Berlin buildup and the major changes he made so he could run his best:

At the Amsterdam Marathon last October, Kenenisa was forced to abandon attempts to complete the race in the closing stages. Post-race it was discovered he has picked up a stress fracture of the femur. A knee injury followed.

This is when his management company — Global Sports Communication — with the full backing of his personal coach, Mersha Asrat, proposed a radical change of his training and lifestyle in order for Kenenisa to best fulfil his marathon potential.

“His life in Ethiopia is very busy and maybe this wasn’t always the best way of ensuring the adequate rest and recovery between sessions,” explains Jos Hermens, the director of Global Sport Communication and his long-term manager. “He is a businessman and, understandably, felt responsible for those businesses. His children mean the world to him and he wants to be the best father and family man he can be. But this sometimes meant he was juggling too many balls with not enough rest in his life.”

“We said to Kenenisa; ‘if you keep doing what you are doing you will have the same results, we have to try and change things. Why don’t you spent two months based out of Nijmegen (where the Global Sports Communication offices are based) where you will receive the best medical treatment and can be closely monitored’?”

It was not an easy decision for Kenenisa to leave his family and business interests, but to his great credit the Ethiopian icon accepted and flew to the Netherlands in mid-May for an eight-week period.

Canadian Running did a side-by-side comparison of Kipchoge’s 2018 run versus Bekele’s 2019 run.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

  1. Kenenisa Bekele 2:01:41 (Ethiopia)

  2. Birhanu Legese 2:02:48 (Ethiopia)

  3. Sisay Lemma 2:03:36 (Ethiopia)

  4. Jonathan Korir 2:06:45 (Kenya)

  5. Felix Kandie 2:08:07 (Kenya)

  6. Yohanes Gebregergish 2:08:26 (Eritrea)

  7. Guojian Dong 2:08:28 (China)

  8. Bethwel Yegon 2:08:35 (Kenya)

  9. Kenta Murayama 2:08:56 (Japan)

  10. Abel Kipchumba 2:09:39 (Kenya)

The top male Canadian was Tyler Hamilton, who placed 147th overall in a time of 2:27:47.

Other notes from the men’s race:

  • Birhanu Legese crossed the line in second place in 2:02:48, which is the fourth fastest marathon time ever, after Kipchoge’s Berlin 2018 win, Bekele’s Berlin 2019 win and Kipchoge’s London 2019 win.

  • I think sub 2:00 is going down a lot sooner than we think. Also, can we get Kipchoge versus Bekele at Tokyo 2020? Everyone else is racing for bronze. Make that happen.

  • As Let’sRun pointed out, the top 5 all-time marathon results have happened since fall 2018 and all of them have one thing in common: Nike 4% Vaporflys.

  • Kyle Wyatt, who ran for USA but lives and trains in Toronto — which I know because I see him running all the time and creepily stare at him thinking I know you from Instagram — placed 66th overall in a time of 2:19:35.

Krista DuChene runs 2:32:27, finishes 12th and wins masters division

Happy with a 2:32 and 12th at the @berlinmarathon today. Race report later today at @irunnation . Thank you for the love and support! Now to take it some views and good food. 🇩🇪🇨🇦 📷: Trevor Dickie #rollriver @speedrivertfc
September 29, 2019

Krista DuChene ran 2:32:27 in Berlin, which was good enough for 12th place and was the top female master’s performance. Her time was her first sub-2:34 marathon since 2015.

While the performance was not enough to qualify for the Olympics (she needed 2:29:3 or a top 10 finish), it should give her points towards her IAAF ranking. So she’s not out of the mix just yet.

DuChene was pleased with the performance, she told Canadian Running:

 “At this point in my career, I’m grateful for every marathon I can finish standing up. Everyone who comes to Berlin expects to conditions to be perfect. The conditions weren’t perfect today. But in all of the 19 marathons that I’ve done, the only day that was perfect was when I ran 2:28 in Toronto.”

DuChene says that the first half of her race was perfect. “I knew it would be tight to try and hit Olympic standard (2:29:30). In the first half I was right on pace, but in the second half I was riding the line between running hard and blowing up. It was windy, the roads were a little slippery and it was humid. These aren’t excuses, they’re just facts. Since Rio, everything in my running career has been icing on the cake. Right now I’m still enjoying running and when it stops being fun I’m reassess my goals.”

DuChene wrote about the race in her column for iRun:

It was somewhat disappointing that I was so close to 10th but I think I’d rather be a few minutes off 2:29:30 and placings off 10th, than off a few seconds and one placing. I later learned that the 9th, 10th and 11th women, who wanted sub 2:29:30, were all 2:31-mid, one minute ahead of me so at least it wasn’t close.

The top 10 were:

  1. Ashete Bekere 2:20:14 (Ethiopia)

  2. Mare Dibaba 2:20:22 (Ethiopia)

  3. Sally Chepyego 2:21:06 (Kenya)

  4. Helen Tola 2:21:36 (Ethiopia)

  5. Sara Hall 2:22:16 (USA)

  6. Melat Kejeta 2:23:57 (Germany)

  7. Sally Kipyego 2:25:10 (USA)

  8. Haftamnesh Tesfay 2:26:50 (Ethiopia)

  9. Martina Strëhl 2:31:24 (Switzerland)

  10. Nina Lauwaert 2:31:25 (Belgium)

Other notes from the women’s race:

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Kinsey Middleton is ready to defend her Canadian championship title

Kinsey Middleton is the defending Canadian marathon champion and on Oct. 20, she’ll be back on Canadian soil to defend her title and vie for an Olympic berth. Canada Running Series continued their stories from the past and present of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The latest article is a profile of the dual Canadian-American citizen:

That was the beauty of Middleton’s 2018 performance: it seemed effortless, her step up to the marathon almost serendipitous (barely a year prior, she focused on the 1,500m.) But the honeymoon is over now, judgment day is approaching, and the stakes at this year’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon are higher than ever. Not only does Middleton have a title to defend, she gets to chase a long-time dream: Tokyo.

“I have been dreaming of being an Olympian since I was in kindergarten,” says Middleton, from her home in Boise, “and I knew at a really young age I could choose the country for which I would try to compete.”

Middleton has never lived in Canada, but she represented the country for the first time at the 2018 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships. Her grandmother currently lives in Guelph, and her grandfather in Nova Scotia. This fall, Middleton is eager to show her nation of heritage to her husband for the first time, a nation for which she grows fonder every year.

Evan Esselink is ready for his marathon debut

Running in Canada is continuing their profiles of key elites running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. This week, they profiled Evan Esselink, who will be making his 42.2K debut on Oct. 20:

Heading into the 2019 season, Esselink made a lot of changes to his training regime, but the biggest was a move from Guelph to Vancouver with the goal of being the best version and athlete of himself. When I asked Esselink why 2019 was his breakout year, his answer was the British Columbia Endurance Project (BCEP): “This group is everything I would want in a team and more. My teammates are incredibly supportive of each other and are among some of the best all-around human beings I’ve ever met; same goes with my coach Richard Lee – he is incredibly supportive, he wants us to succeed, and he is incredibly real with us. The last one hits home with me – he is very honest and tells things how they are, whether that be positive or negative. I always appreciate his honesty and his criticism and I feel like I am always learning from him.” His result at Houston in 2019, closely following his podium placing at Canadian Cross Country, assured him that he made the right decision by moving west. He added, “I knew I was capable of this … and more.”

What happens to those clothes you toss at marathon finish lines? At many races they go to charity

CBC Montreal asked the question: what happens to all the clothing runners discard at the start line of races? In Montreal, the clothing goes to the charity La Maison du Père, which outfits homeless men with new clothing:

“The clothing that we get is very high quality — brands like Nike, Puma, Adidas,” said Christine Vill-Valecourt, a spokesperson for La Maison du Père.

“It's more like summer clothing and little bit of fall clothing, but it's the equivalent of a year of clothing. There are no winter jackets or things like that, but it's a lot of clothing in one shot.”

The men's clothing will supply the charity for about a year, she said, with some of the items sold in the organization's thrift shop to raise money for other services at La Maison du Père.

The takeaway here? Toss something halfway decent at your races — it’ll go to a good cause.

Science studies men too much and it hurts everyone

CBC Radio’s science program Quirks & Quarks looked at how medical science (and subsequently, sports science) studies predominantly men. It’s bad for women, and it’s bad for science. The spoke to Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, the scientific director of the Institute of Gender and Health, about the long-ranging consequences, which include unexpected side effects from medication in women and not men, standards of treatments and dosages that are based on men but applied to women and more:

In 2015, [Jeff Mogil, a professor of pain studies at McGill University] showed how males and females use completely different cell types to process pain in the spinal cord.

This has major implications for drug development because if scientists develop a new pain analgesic by trying to manipulate one or another of those cells, then it might not work on half the population. 

The key, Tannenbaum argues? Getting more women into STEM, alongside education for all scientists about gender differences and gender bias.

Molly Huddle shares the foundation of a good running diet

I usually hate the “what elite athletes eat in a day” articles (their training is different, their lives are different and their diet should be too), but this one from American elite Molly Huddle for Runner’s World is decent because it focuses on the principles of a good athlete’s diet and not the specific foods:

At the top of my priority list, I need a lot of red blood cells (cue iron and B vitamins), glycogen replenished (let’s go, carbohydrates), muscle repair (care of amino acids and protein), a good immune system (good work, vitamins), solid bones (thanks to minerals), and to maintain hormonal health (well done, good fats and enough calories). I try to hit these targets every day and work around that framework as far as squeezing in extra things for enjoyment, convenience, catering to any food sensitivities, and general health. 

Huddle is married to a Canadian, BTW. This still counts as CanCon.

The beds for athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will be made out of cardboard and completely recyclable

The Tokyo Olympics are aiming to be the greenest ever. The medals are made out of reclaimed electronics from Japanese citizens and now the beds the athletes are going to sleep on will be made out of recyclable cardboard.

From USA Today:

The Japanese bedding company Airweave is providing Olympic athletes with 18,000 “high resistance lightweight cardboard” beds with polyethylene mattresses. The designs for the Olympians and additional 8,000 beds for the Paralympians slightly differ. 

Takashi Kitajima, a Tokyo 2020 organizer in charge of the Athletes' Village, told media members Tuesday that the aim of the cardboard beds was to provide comfort for the athletes while simultaneously securing sustainability — one of the main themes of next summer's Games. 

The final kick

That’s it for this week! Next week I will have a world championship recap and a preview of Chicago!

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Thanks for reading and keep on running!