15 Burning Questions for Running in Canada for 2019

“Better late than never” they say. Well these questions are certainly late, but they are still worth the read. These are my top 15 questions for the 2019 season.

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Courtesy: CTV News

Will Coolsaet get the Olympic Standard?

As Canada’s most popular distance runner, people have asked me whether I think Reid Coolsaet can get the Olympic standard again for Tokyo 2020. My answer to them is – absolutely. Despite a tough STWM (where he was still second Canadian, by the way) Reid was 9th at Boston and won a plethora of 10ks around the country. Coolsaet, at this moment, has not confirmed his spring schedule, but one could assume he will aim for London or Rotterdam in order to get the time he needs. With he and Cam Levins the only two marathoners with a realistic Olympic shot, I hope Athletics Canada does not create a tougher standard than they did for Rio. Reid is 39 and has two kids, but based on my interview with him last month, the fire is still there. Expect Reid to hit the standard this year.

How fast can Levins go?

2:09. That is the number which is now the fastest in Canadian history for the marathon. I bet Cam Levins can go even faster. Like Coolsaet, it will be interesting to see where Levins chooses to toe the line in the spring. As was made perfectly clear on twitter, the Boston Marathon seems to be interested at attracting the up and coming Canadian talent, but Levins has said he wants to run fast. Does that mean he could also be heading to Europe? I wouldn’t dare to put ceiling on Levins this year, but I predict he can potentially run in the 2:06 range.

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The list of people to recognize from today is countless. This was a decade in the making and I want to say THANK YOU and express my gratitude for all the people and process that made this happen. First and foremost, my family- everyone was here in #toronto this weekend, which rarely happens. Thank you for making this a priority for the year and for supporting my passion even when I was on crutches and couldn’t walk @suutfxc and @erickhoule : the boys strung me along during training in the spring to help get me back to fitness, Eric helped supervise my workouts and his wife Diane kept me well fed during altitude training in Cedar City, Utah Trent Stellingwerff for his brilliant mind and knowledge regarding nutrition and fueling (my wife loved decorating my bottles and may never let me return to track now) My physio team: both @kurtmarionlmt and @davidmchenry13 (Portland), and Dutch and Stephen Workman (Cedar City) who kept me in one piece during this whole buildup @ryan.p.vail and @reidcoolsaet for letting me pick their brains on this whole marathon beast- they are both great guys and great role models My agent, @flynnsports @raypflynn , my sponsors @hokaoneone and @polarglobal for sticking with me and working to create these opportunities Finally, to @alnbrookes @runcrs @scotiabank for inviting me to #stwm last year to preview the course and for the incredible hospitality and organization this year. Everything I could have possibly wanted for my debut was in place with amazing pacers and meet staff/volunteers, (that tracked down my bag hours later) and they have consistently hosted an event that is world-class and high quality. I may be a west coast boy, but Toronto will always have a special place in my heart. 📸Cole Burston/Canadian Press

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Will Cliff run another marathon?

Rachel Cliff just missed the Canadian record in her surprise marathon debut this fall. Cliff ran 2:28 mid in Berlin and was the talk of Canadian marathoning until Cam Levins did his thing at STWM. If Cliff does toe the line in another marathon, this would put her in contention to make the 42.2 kilometre event for Tokyo 2020. Therefore, I think this decision will depend on what Cliff wants to target in Tokyo.

In terms of location, it depends on what Cliff’s priorities are. She could target Ottawa or STWM if her goal is a paycheque, but if she wishes to run in the world’s best fields, Boston, or Chicago may be calling…

Will Gillis return?

Since Boston of this year, Eric Gillis has not toed the line in an elite race. The Canadian marathon veteran is now a coach at St. Francis Xavier University, where he coaches up-and-comers like Angus Rawling.

Canadian marathon fans are wondering where they will see Gillis next. Will he give Boston another go? Will he ever run another marathon?

When will we see Andre De Grasse (outside of commercials)?

He’s changed coaches, training locations and is looking to put an injury plagued 2018 behind him. When will see see Andre DeGrasse first? If I were to guess, DeGrasse will give his 100M and 200M speed a test in North America, before heading to Europe for a diamond league event.

DeGrasse has a few hurdles in front of him. First, he must regain his crown as fastest Canadian, before looking for medals at Doha this fall. The late date for the World Track Championships this year sets up nicely for him.

Can a Canadian get into the top 20 at World Cross?

Perhaps the first big events for Canadians on the IAAF schedule is in the form of the World Cross Country Championships to be held in Denmark. The course looks awesome, by the way.

Anyone who follows this page regularly knows – I love cross country. I am particularly pumped for this championship as I think a couple Canadians can potentially sneak into the top 20. Luc Bruchet is the most likely of these. The King of Canadian XC is expected to lead a men’s team with a lot of potential. A dark horse, and relative unknown in the team is Mike Tate, who followed up his good showing at ACXC with a great race on Boxing Day. The team is rounded out by Evan Esselink, Ehab El-Sandali, Rory Linkletter and Ben Preisner.

The women’s team is lead by potential top 20 runners Geniveve Lalonde and Natasha Wodak. Wodak will hopefully becoming off a good run at the Houston Marathon; whereas Lalonde, who destroyed the field at ACXC is looking to keep  the momentum going. A late World Championship in Doha will help both of these two prepare specifically for the 10k XC distance. The women’s team is rounded out by Claire Sumner, Katelyn Ayers, Jessica Jessica O’Connell, Andrea Seccafien, making for what should be a strong team score.

There is finally depth in the women’s marathon, what will our Tokyo Team look like?

Marchant. Duchene. Middleton. Sexton. Hannah. Cliff. Tessier. Gollish.

These are only a few of the names who could be contention for the Tokyo 2020 team. From having no marathoners in London 2012 to two runners in Rio, Canada could very well be sporting a full squad on the womens side.

If I were to make a prediction, the team will feature: Marchant, Cliff and Middleton; but a lot can change between now and the end of the year.

How long will it take Melissa Bishop to get into form?

Coming off having a baby in 2018, Melissa Bishop (according to her Instagram) is already getting back into form, and quickly. When will we see her return to the track? Will she return in the 800 or the 1500?

Like DeGrasse, Bishop is fortunate that the World Champs are taking place in the fall, allowing her some more time to get in some Diamond League events. I suspect Bishop is targeting the Canadian Championships, once again to be held on her home track in Ottawa.

What will Justyn Knight’s first year as a pro look like?

The NCAA standout is heading in to his first full year as a pro. This includes big changes to training, location and focus. Look to see Knight target the World Championships, especially in the 5,000 where he and Mo Ahmed and even Luc Bruchet/Ben Flanagan could do some serious damage for Canada.

Knight, from around the GTA, will probably appear in numerous Diamond League events and gain a tonne of experience in the year ahead. Hopefully we will even see him in Vancouver for ACXC 2019.

Mo Ahmed. What will he do next?

I am calling it right now. Mo Ahmed will podium in the 2019 World Championships. This medal will most likely come in the 5,000 but I wouldn’t rule him out of the 10,000 either. Without Mo Farah to dominate the pace, Ahmed’s kick could surprise the East Africans. A medal will be a tall order but is in his wheelhouse.

Sasha Gollish is running the Houston marathon. How will she do?

Her DNF in Berlin sucked, but Gollish is back at Athletic’s longest distance. Gollish has been putting in the work, even asking people to join her Long Runs around Toronto.

I believe Gollish will debut under 2:32, which would put her in the middle of the Olympics Conversation.

Tate and Cliff in 2018, who will be Canada’s next breakout stars?

I do not know how to answer this question. Canadian distance running, and Athletics in Canada have a lot to be excited for. Your thoughts in the comments would be appreciated!

New international talent at STWM?

Alan Brookes and STWM brought in a lot of new talent this year to Canada’s fastest marathon. Jake Robertson, Phillemon Rono, Stephen Kiprotich, and of course, Cam Levins and Reid Coolsaet.

Who will Brookes bring over this year? It would be great if Jake Robertson could give Toronto another go. I think he liked the city and usually STWM isn’t that cold. I do not think Rono or Kiprotich will be back, but perhaps Felix Kandie and John Korir will return from the elite field.

On the women’s side, expect to see a Canadian showdown. The ladies will be vying for that Olympic standard, and it should make for a good race. These is also a new course record to shoot for on the ladies side, potentially a factor to bring in some new international talent.

Will the Ottawa Marathon get the all-comers record back?

Two years ago, the Ottawa Marathon lost the Canadian all-comers record when Rono ran 2:06:52. Ottawa has the women’s record, but the race would like to get them both back in 2019. Getting this record back however will take a fast field, will Manny Rodrigues bring in the fastest field the race has ever seen?

How will the new 10,000m Canadian Championships go?

Despite Ontario losing the XC Champs and the 10,000m Championships this year, I am excited to see what Chris Winter and co. do with 10,000m Championships in Vancouver. In partnership with Mile2Marathon, the BC Endurance Project is working to revolutionize Championship racing in Canada and will hopefully bring out more fans and more racers to this event.

What are your predictions? Let me know in the comments.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndersenRuns



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