Welcome to Run the North!

1/21: Houston was hot despite cold temps, Cam's running London, Krista's running Boston and what the hell is this?

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Who am I? I’m a middle-of-the-pack runner living in Toronto. My numbers are nothing special. I’ve run seven marathons, a few dozen half marathons. But I spend hours and hours and hours reading about runners of all backgrounds — elites to sub-elites to people chasing BQs to back-of-the-packers. I love nothing more than Googling “2018 Chicago marathon recap” and reading the blog of some stranger who overcame so much to run their first/second/eleventh marathon. It’s very uplifting, you should try it.

What is this newsletter then? I decided to put this, uh, hobby to use by rounding up what I read and like here in this newsletter. It’ll be a mix of links and commentary, with a Canadian focus.

I’ll probably end up focusing on road racing and marathoning and the human side of the sport as opposed to track & field and hard numbers/performance stuff. That’s just my jam, telling you now.

If you have feedback, a feature you want to see or want to just tell me I am wasting my time, please email me and let me know. I want this to be fun for everyone.

Just like running. Ha!

When will you get it? Run the North will hit your inboxes every Monday.

Houston, we had a race

The first big race of the year, the Houston marathon and half marathon, was on Sunday. It was a great day for racing, and people came to run.

In the marathon, we had two big Canadian debuts!

Malindi Elmore, a middle-distance runner turned triathlete, was the top female Canadian, running 2:32:11. (She’s technically run a marathon as part of her Ironman racing, but this was her first true marathon.) Elmore is 38 years old and represented Canada in the 2004 Olympics, running the 1500. She then became a professional triathlete, running the third fastest time at the Ironman distance by a Canadian woman. This 2016 profile of her turn to tris is great. Basically, she’s a beast and now that she’s put her hat in the marathon ring, watch out.

Sasha Gollish, also a former middle-distance runner, gave her first go at the distance in Berlin, but ended up DNFing with an injury. Houston proved to be far better. Gollish finished 2:32:54. Gollish is one of a few athletes who writes regularly for iRun. She published a piece looking forward to 2019 just before Houston. So far her year is off to a great start.

Both these runs put Elmore and Gollish in the conversation for top Canadian women — and shows that Canadian marathoning is getting deeper every day.

On the men’s side, Tristan Woodfine was the top Canadian, running a huge PB of 2:15:16. His previous best time was 2:18:55, which he set last year in Ottawa.

In the half-marathon:

  • Natasha Wodak ran a PB of 1:10:33, PBing by 47 seconds (her previous PB was 1:11:20., set in 2015) and was only 25 seconds off Rachel Cliff’s Canadian record.

  • Lyndsay Tessier, who had a huge breakthrough in the marathon in Berlin, ran 1:13:54, besting her previous PB by 35 seconds.

  • Dayna Pidhoresky ran 1:12:59, only seconds off her own personal best.

  • Evan Esselink was the top Canadian male, running 1:02:17, a big PB for him. His previous best was 1:04:05, set last year in the same race.

  • Trevor Hofbauer, the 2017 Canadian marathon champ, had a rough day, running 01:10:11. His half PB, 1:04:28, is from Philadelphia in 2015.

Canadian elite long-distance running is stepping up. Canadian Running did a great job recapping all the CanCon at Houston:

In non-Canadian news, Kenyan Albert Korir (2:10:02) and Ethopian Biruktayit Degefa (2:23:28) won the marathons, and Kenyan Brigid Kosgei (1:05:50) and Ethopian Shura Kitata (1:00:11) were the half champions. Kosgei’s time is a course record is the fastest half-marathon run by a women on North American soil ever. She’s running the London marathon in what is a super stacked elite field.

The Houston Chronicle has solid recaps to check out: marathon here and half-marathon here.

Outside magazine has a great article about Jim Walmsley, one of America’s greatest ultra runners, running the half — and why it’s good for the sport overall. The article came out before the race, but it’s still worth a read. Walmsley ran 64 flat in Houston. He publicly stated his goal was sub 64, which would qualify him for the American Olympic marathon trials. Well, 64 flat means he’s in. The American Olympic marathon trials are going to be awesome.

Cam Levins is running London

When the London Marathon announced their elite field, he was just a bullet point. And that makes sense on a global scale — the men’s elite field in London is possibly one of the most stacked ever. But reigning Canadian marathon champion Cam Levins — who made a triumphant comeback when he crushed the 40-year-old Canadian record at STWM last year running 2:09:25 — is lining up for his second marathon at London on April 28. Does he have it in him to go even faster? I think so.

Cam talked to Canadian Running about deciding to run London and the goal he is setting for himself: breaking his own record.

You can see the full London elite list on their Instagram.

Krista DuChene is headed back to Boston

Canadians marathon mom Krista DuChene is returning to Boston after shocking the running world (and herself) when she placed third last year in the most horrid conditions we’ve seen at a major marathon possibly ever.

Krista wrote a piece for iRun about her surprise third place finish and her goals for 2019.

Canadians joining Krista in the Boston elite field are wheelchair racers Joshua Cassidy, who won Boston back in 2012 with the fastest wheelchair time ever recorded at the time; Tristan Smyth, who raced his first marathon at the Commonwealth Games last year; and veteran Diane Roy.

The Boston marathon is April 15, 2019.

You can see the whole elite field on the Boston Marathon website.

New path to the Olympic marathon?

How did it work before, you ask? A Canadian runner had to run a specific time to make the Olympic team during the qualifying window, but where they did it didn’t matter, and wining the national championship at STWM was irrelevant when it came to the Olympics if you didn’t hit the Canadian standard. The Canadian standards for the 2016 Olympics 2:12:50 (male) 2:29:59 (female). Be one of the fastest three runners to hit the Canadian standard, you’re on the team.

This is an old, but good, article from Athletics Illustrated about the issues with the current Canadian qualifying model.

It’s unclear what new “standard” the language above is referring to, but it could mean that the STWM winner only has to hit the more generous IAAF standard, or possibly a new one altogether.

Gabriela Stafford breaks 5K indoor record

This is oldish, as she ran the race on Jan. 5, but this newsletter is here, so here you go! Gabriela Stafford ran 14:57.45 in the 5000 at Glasgow Athletics Association Miler Meet, breaking the Canadian record by almost 30 seconds. It was Stafford’s debut at this distance. Stafford is training now in Glasgow (when she’s not home in Toronto for school, she attends the University of Toronto and should graduate this year) so she can train with Scottish runner Laura Muir and Laura’s coach.

Let’s Run has a great breakdown of why Stafford moved and why this new record could mean much bigger things to come.

Allie Kieffer is running Around the Bay

In this Instagram post, American runner Allie Kieffer revealed her spring race schedule:

  • Pacific Pursuit 10K Feb 17th, Atlanta

  • Road to Gold: An Atlanta 2020 Test Event March 2nd, Atlanta

  • Around The Bay 30K March 31st, Ontario

  • London Marathon April 28th, UK

(Emphasis mine.)

This wouldn’t be the first time Kieffer has come to Canada to run a tune-up race: in 2018, she ran (and won!) the Scotiabank Toronto Half-Marathon as a tune-up for the New York City marathon.

Allie just launched a new advice column “Ask Allie” in Women’s Running if you’re into that kind of thing.

If you’d rather your elite women’s running advice column be CanCon, Sage Watson launched her own column “Sage Advice” with iRun last year.

All six world marathon majors to celebrate 60

I was obsessed with this story about Canadian Paula Rochman  — a lawyer who lives in Toronto — who ran all six world marathon majors in 2018 — Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York — to celebrate turning 60. The best part? NYC was on her actual birthday and her kids came out to run with her and celebrate.

Canadian Running published a profile of Paula back in November. And iRun just spoke to Paula for iRun Radio.

She’s a badass and I want to be her when I grow up.

Canadian spring marathon schedule

Thinking about running a spring marathon in this great country of ours? Here are your options:

Strides: Links I liked and think you will too

That’s it for the very first issue of Run the North! It was a big one! Thanks for reading!