Ottawa Race Weekend has a history of quick fields and fast races (weather dependent, of course). This year will be no different.
Last week, when I was sent the link to the 10k start list my eyes immediately moved to one name: Peres Jepchirchir. Looking deeper into the field, I realized that if the weather cooperates, this race (especially on the women’s side) has a chance to be very, very fast.
I will come back to the start list in a minute but first let us look at this modified course for the 2019 edition.
Starting outside the Shaw Centre (Ottawa’s biggest downtown convention centre) the course is pan flat for the first three kilometres. During kilometre 4 runners will have to face the two largest portions of elevation gain on the course: a short climb after the bank street bridge that spans about around 150m and the much steeper / punchier swoop up to the Bronson bridge. Those who have run the 10k will note that this is usually the ramp which runners descend and should note that although the climb is quite short, runners will make a ninety degree left hand turn to begin the climb. Once runners reach the top the bridge, they will be at about the halfway mark. Almost immediately, the descent back to canal level begins with two ninety degree turns – the first is a more gentle downhill and turns onto Lake Side drive. The second left hander however (that turns onto Queen Elizabeth drive) will be much trickier, as runners will be moving at full speed and have to handle the corner at the bottom of the hill. The route then remains fairly flat until the conclusion of the race with the final undulation in the last kilometre – this will be almost unnoticeable to the majority of runners.
The Ottawa 10k times will be very dependent on the weather, heat and wind most of all. Runners will have to take on many exposed kilometres along the canal and if winds are high, it could certainly make for some tough racing for us middle of the packers and some tactical racing for the elites. The temperature is also always a wildcard at this time of year in Ottawa so fingers (and toes) crossed that humidity is low.
Now, back to the women’s elite field.
The Start List
Line up notables are:
Gete Alemayehu (Ethiopia) – PB of 31:12 for the 10k. She also sports a handy 1:08 half marathon performance.
Edith Chelimo (Kenya) – PB of 31:07 for the 10k and was second in this race last year. She has a half marathon PB 1:05 but has DNF’d her two marathon attempts this year alone, most recently in London.
Joyce Chepkemoi (Kenya) – PB of 31:38 for the 10k distance. Although her times are not as fact as the other highlights in the women’s field, she is a prolific winner. This year she has won a half marathon in Turkey and finished second in a half marathon in Mexico. In 2018 she was the winner of the Trento Half Marathon and the Eldoret 10k.
Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) – PB of 30:55 for the 10k. Jepchirchir is the highlight of the 10k fields and has a half marathon PB of 1:05 where she set the WR (at the time). In 2016, Jepchirchir won the Ottawa 10k during a highlight season where she won five other races including the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.
Dorcas Kimeli (Kenya) – has a 10k PB of 31:37. Kimeli set her PB in a Half Marathon at the end of March, winning the race in 1:08.
Paskalia Kipkoech (Kenya) – has a PB of 30:57 for the 10k. Kipkoech sports a half marathon PB of 1:07 and a marathon PB of 2:26, which was set this year when she finished 6th in Paris. Last year, she won 3/3 10k races and finished second in Ottawa in the 2017 edition.
Stacy Ndiwa (Kenya) – has the second fastest PB in the field at 31:00. She has no races recorded this year, but had a full year of racing in 2018. She finished 2nd in the 10,000 at the Commonwealth Games and won two road 10ks. In addition to her fast 10k time she also has run 4:06 for the 1,500, 15:15 for 5,000, and 1:07 for the half.
The Canadian challenge is pretty strong as well. I expect a couple of the Canadians to give this a shot and try to mix it up with the East African women. With this race doubling as the Canadian 10k Championships, it is always an interesting dynamic between the two races for the Canadian athletes. Here are some I expect to challenge for the crown:
Malindi Elmore – PB of 33:06. Elmore may not go out with the East Africans and may not be a known name to you. She returned from retirement this January, smashing her debut marathon in Houston with a 2:32 and 7th place to boot. She has run 33* flat and 32:59* this year for the 10k. Expect a top 10 finish from Elmore.
Sasha Gollish – PB of 33:03. Like Elmore should also have a good showing in this race and also ran Houston in 2:32 to debut this past January. Gollish has impressive PBs from 1500 to the Marathon and should contend in this race for the Canadian crown. Expect a top 10 finish and top 3 Canadian placing from Gollish.
Tamara Jewett – PB of 33:04. Jewett is a wild card and does not have a distance logged on the IAAF website over 8k. Her 8k performance was when she finished 3rd in this year’s Spring Run Off. It will be interesting to see what sort of fitness Jewett has and how she does in this race. She should be in the top 10 Canadians.
Kinsey Middleton – PB of 32:34. Middleton will also be the defending Canadian Marathon Champ this fall in Toronto where she debuted in 2:32. Middleton is certainly one of the Canadians to watch in this race. She sports a half marathon PB of 1:12 and has had a good build up going into this race logging two 10,000 performances at Stanford and Payton Jordan as well as a second place at the Sun Run. Outside of the Canadian top 3 will be a disappointment for Middleton, but I would like to see her go out with the leaders to see what she has. Middleton will be competing for a spot at the Olympics amongst the growing Canadian women’s marathon contingent.
Jessica O’Connell – PB of 32:22. O’Connell is one of Canada’s elite distance runners. She has run 15:06 over 5,000 and 4:10 for the 1,500. O’Connell ran in the World Cross Championships for Canada and March, finished 3rd in the Milrose Games for the 3,000 (oh, setting the Canadian record by the way), and recently ran 15:30 the 5k at Payton Jordan.
Claire Sumner – PB of 34:13. Sumner is an upcoming runner for Canada who won the 2017 Canadian Cross Country Championships. Sumner who is a medical student at Queens is one of Canada’s toughest and strongest runners and it will be interesting to see how she goes this weekend. She sports a half marathon PB of 1:14
Natasha Wodak – PB of 31:59. Wodak is the fastest Canadian in the race and should be the winner of the Canadian 10k Championships. How Wodak runs the race will be of great importance to how the Canadian battle shapes up. If Wodak goes with the leaders, it is likely that Middleton and others will go as well. If Wodak sits back, which she has every right to do, the Canadian and African battles will be very separate affairs. In the past, Wodak has done both. In previous editions Lanni Marchant and herself have gone out with the leaders, but in last year’s race a rapid start saw very few be able to hang with the lead pack – even amongst the Africans itself. Wodak is on Strava, by the way. Wodak has run 1:10 for the half and 15:29 over 5,000m.
Can the course record go down? Of course it could. There are a few runners in the field who could certainly chase down the time, but they would all have the achieve a personal best in the process.
Who will win? The easy pick is Jepchirchir but with so many women within 1 minute of the course record anything is possible. Watch out for the twenty year old Alemayehu and the twenty-one year old Kimeli.
My podium? 1. Jepchirchir 2. Chelimo 3. Alemayehu
Can the Canadian record go down? Highly doubtful. Wodak would have to go inside her PB by 15 seconds and the record has stood since 1989. Anything is possible of course.
Who will win the Canadian race? Anybody but Natasha Wodak will be an upset. Middleton, Elmore and Gollish have the best shot. Rachel Cliff, last years’ winner, is not lining up for this edition as she’s had a busy spring.
Canadian podium? 1. Wodak 2. Middleton 3. Gollish
Dark Horse (who I didn’t preview)? Lyndsay Tessier. The full-time teacher has come on of late as a Masters runner and will for certain be the winner of that category. With a PB of 34:04 she could also challenge for the Canadian crown depending on fitness level and race tactics. I also think Robyn Mildren (also on Strava) has a shot at the Canadian rostrum. Mildren is the winner of the Boxing Day 10 Miler (two years straight), is a prolific racer, and should pose as a good competitor.
- The women will be starting 3:40 ahead of the men this year’s gender challenge ($3,000 bonus)
- The women’s course record is 30:55 and held by marathon super star Gladys Cherono
- The prize for the win is $5,000 and goes to 8th place. The winning Canadian will bring home $3,000 and the prize money is 8 deep.
- You can access the full 10k Start List here.
- Run Ottawa are the event organizers – you can read all about the event on their website.
- A livestream of the race with Tim Hutchings and Mark Sutcliffe is here.