The Rundown and 8 Takeaways from Ottawa Race Weekend

Well, the most exciting week on the Ottawa racing calendar has come and gone. Around 50,000 runners laced up the shoes including in the two IAAF gold label races – the Ottawa 10k and the Ottawa marathon and the other four events featured.

Before the weekend, I previewed the women’s 10k, the men’s 10k,  and the marathon. Now, I am a little late to the party with my rundown of the weekend.But if you are late to the party too, you can watch the full race replays on RogersTV Youtube – 10k and Marathon

In the women’s 10k, the race was a doozy – featuring a sprint to the line and leaving the pre-race favourite and my pick to win, Peres Jepchirchir finishing fifth. Natasha Wodak won the Canadian battle, as I said she would, and went out with the East African women over the first few kilometres. I always smile when I see a Canadian try to mix it up with the East Africans, because it means they are not afraid and not letting expectations dictate their race plan.

Here are the full results for the women’s 10k.

  1. Dorcas Kimeli (Kenya) 31:08
  2. Valary Jemeli (Kenya) 31:11
  3. Paskalia Kipkoech (Kenya) 31:29
  4. Stacey Ndiwa (Kenya) 31:39
  5. Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) 31:58
  6. Gete Alemayehu (Ethiopia) 31:58
  7. Joyce Chepkemoi (Kenya) 32:28
  8. Natasha Wodak (Canada) 32:30
  9. Malandi Elmore (Canada) 32:57
  10. Emily Setlack (Canada) 33:02
  11. Jessica O’Connell (Canada) 33:23
  12. Tamara Jewett (Canada) 33:32
  13. Kinsey Middleton (Canada) 34:15
  14. Robyn Mildren (Canada) 34:34
  15. Gladys Tarus (Kenya) 34:37

More results.

On the men’s side, the race was also very competitive. A lead pack of two Kenyans and three Moroccans quickly pulled away, and although the Kenyans pushed the pace, it was the veteran Mohammed Ziani of Morocco, who took the win. It was a day for Veterans on both the men’s and women’s side when Dylan Wykes cruised to the victory in the Canadian Championships. Wykes who was cautious about his chances pre-race, beat out my race favourite – Justin Kent, for the win.

Here are the results for the men’s race:

  1. Mohammed Ziani (Morocco) 28:11
  2. Wilfred Kimitei (Kenya) 28:15
  3. Mohammed Reda El Araby (Morocco) 28:21
  4. Abderrahmane Kachir (Marocco) 28:32
  5. Moses Kibet (Kenya) 28:47
  6. Dylan Wykes (Canada) 29:55
  7. Justin Kent (Canada) 29:58
  8. Phil Parrot Migas (Canada) 29:58
  9. Chris Balestrini (Canada) 30:08
  10. Bonsa Gonfa (Ethopia) 30:26
  11. Connor Black (Canada) 30:26
  12. Brendan Wong (Canada) 30:43
  13. Kevin Coffey (Canada) 30:52
  14. Pier-Olivier Laflamme (Canada) 30:52
  15. Colin Fewer (Canada) 30:52

More results

Going into the marathon, anticipation was high. For the first time in a few years there was a stacked Canadian field in the marathon – Reid Coolsaet, Krista Duchene, Rachel Hannah and Dayna Pidhoresky. The start list also featured five men who had previously ran a time under the course record, and a wide open women’s race where honestly, anything was possible (you can read my full preview here).

On race day morning, I walked outside, ready to ride by bike around the course and cheer. The first thing I said was “oh uh” as I looked at the weather forecast on my phone. At 7AM (start time) it was already warm and forecast to get much warmer. Worse, for the first time in what felt like a month, the sun was shining in Ottawa, promising to bake the elites and fun-runners alike.

The temperatures did just that – all of the runners in the elite fields put up positive splits as the weather got hotter and the course got harder. Normally, the Ottawa marathon features two or three Canadians under 2:25, this year, only one broke 2:30. Last year, the women’s winner ran 2:22 this year, the winner was four minutes slower with a 2:26. To make it all worse and as if to rub salt in the wound, the next day in Ottawa featured a high of 12 degrees and was cloudy.

The men’s race was close – the top three runners all ran a respectable 2:08 despite the conditions and Albert Korir from Kenya overcame the Ethiopian challenge and experience of Abera Kuma to win the race. Reid Coolsaet ran a respectable race to take the Canadian title and 8th place. It was a bittersweet result for Coolsaet who was hoping for a 2:13.

Here are the men’s results:

  1. Albert Korir (Kenya) 2:08:02
  2. Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) 2:08:13
  3. Tsedat Ayana (Ethiopia) 2:08:52
  4. Martin Kosgey (Kenya) 2:10:18
  5. Adugna Takele (Ethoipia) 2:10:27
  6. Getu Feleke (Ethiopia) 2:10:39
  7. Mohamed El Talhaoui (Morocco) 2:15:30
  8. Reid Coolsaet (Canada) 2:17:36
  9. Bijan Mazaheri (USA) 2:22:10
  10. John Bleday (USA) 2:25:24

Ethiopians have now dominated the women’s race for a decade in Ottawa with Tigist Girma taking the women’s title. She won by 26 seconds of her counterpart Betelhem Moges. A great result was the 4th place from the Rwandan / Ottawa Lions runner Salome Nyirarukundo in 2:30 for fourth. Dayna Pidhoresky was the top Canadian in a respectable time of 2:37. Krista Duchene was 2nd canuck and Rachel Hannah 3rd – they finished 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

Here are the women’s results:

  1. Tigist Girma (Ethiopia) 2:26:33
  2. Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia) 2:26:59
  3. Etaferahu Temesgen (Ethiopia) 2:28:43
  4. Salome Nyirarukundo (Rwanda) 2:30:43
  5. Risper Chebet (Kenya) 2:31:55
  6. Dayna Pidhoresky (Canada) 2:37:18
  7. Krista Duchene (Canada) 2:38:45
  8. Rachel Hannah (Canada) 2:41:30
  9. Anne-Marie Comeau (Canada) 2:43:58
  10. Liza Howard (Canada) 2:47:38

Now that you know exactly what went down in Ottawa this weekend, here are my 10 takeaways.

  1. Veterans dominate in the Canadian 10k Championships

Dylan Wykes and Natasha Wodak won the Canadian 10k Road Championships. Of course, they are extremely talented runners, but these wins although not unexpected are in contrast to the changing of the guard Canadian running has been witness to the last few years – notably the rise of Cam Levins, Rachel Cliff, Kinsey Middleton, Ben Flanagan, Justyn Knight, Justin Kent, Mo Ahmed and more.

Wykes (35) and Wodak (37) put in savvy performances with Wodak running her second fastest time ever on the roads and Wykes who played the waiting game while racing his younger counterparts.  Wykes and Wodak are also both Olympians – 2012 and 2016 respectively. In addition to these two, Malindi Elmore (39) was the runner up in the Canadian race, just edging out Emily Setlack (39) for second. Elmore and Setlack have had breakout seasons in 2019 and will be competing with Krista Duchene in the master’s category next year. Next up for Wykes: Canadian Half Championships in Winnipeg. I am not sure what is next for Wodak.

  1. Reid Coolsaet is unlucky but will continue to battle

Speaking of veterans, Reid Coolsaet also had a great run during the Ottawa Marathon, but like he has the last couple of races – Reid just had some bad luck. In 2018, Reid finished 9th at the Boston Marathon, but the weather inhibited him from running a time worthy of his fitness level. In the fall, Reid ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where he hoped to run 2:13, but a bad cold in training denied him the opportunity to close the out race. In Ottawa this year, Reid said he was ready and was once again gunning for the 2:13 mark, but as I mentioned the weather turned against him and Reid had to run alone rom the 10k mark (his pacer dropped out) while baking in the sun. For many 2:17 is respectable, and Reid said he was happy with his race and his preparation, but one had to wonder in the right conditions if Reid really could have moved up a couple of spots and grabbed the World Standard for Doha. See his race on Strava.

I have made no bones about that I am a big fan of Reid and am desperately hoping he is able to qualify for his third Olympic games. These are positives and negatives to Reid’s chances coming out of Ottawa – the negatives are that he was unable to run the standard nor finish top five. However, his top eight position will give him a boost in the world rankings (added to his 10th from STWM last year) and should give him a shot with the fall marathon. His selection for the fall will be of great interest – will he look at Berlin? Toronto? Fukuoka? We shall see.

To qualify for the Olympics he will either need to run 2:11:30, finish top 5 in a golf label (like Toronto), or top 10 in a major (New York or Berlin).

Reid – Canada is pulling for you.

  1. Duchene is going to keep coming back (yay!)

Krista Duchene was third is the Boston marathon in 2018 and ran Boston this spring. After what she deemed a sub-par performance due to the humidity on the day, Duchene was ready to lace it up in Ottawa – this time with a different strategy. Duchene did no media leading up to the race – and kept a low profile. When I saw her name on the start list, I honestly thought it was an error. It was only when I saw Krista at the expo the day before is when it was confirmed she was racing.

Krista is an amazing athlete. She is also very open about her training, especially on her twitter and her reports on iRun.ca. In this article, she says she knew Ottawa was going to be hot and prepared like so: “I wore winter layers of clothing on my easy runs, ran in the “heat chamber” on a treadmill with space heaters and a kettle and again extra layers of clothing, and spent some time in the sauna. Not only did it definitely provide a physiological benefit, but also a mental boost. I knew that if Ottawa was hot and humid, I would be prepared. And it was, with 96% humidity and high teens at the finish.”

Duchene also noted that she was very happy with her race and how she controlled her effort by minimizing her positive split. Duchene also states that she “doesn’t know what is next” but did say “But do know this –  I’m still in this game.”

This is great news for Canadian distance running as Duchene aims for her second Olympic games. By finishing 7th, Duchene also improves her marathon world ranking.

  1. Canadians run very well in the women’s marathon

Five Canadians in the top ten, a record unmatched by Canadian marathoners in recent memory, especially in an IAAF Gold Label Race. Pidhoresky, Duchene, Hannah, Comeau, and Howard all finished inside the 2:50 mark. It was a good showing from the Canadian contingent and speaks to the depth of the women’s marathon in the country. This year alone, Elmore, Gollish, Cliff and others have all announced themselves as contenders for the Olympic team on a list that also includes Sexton, Marchant and Middleton. It will most definitely be a fun fall marathon season to see how this shakes out.

In addition to amazing races, check out this amazing post-race marathon by Rachel Hannah:

  1. Don’t forget about Pidhoresky for an Olympic birth

The women who put herself in the best spot for Olympic consideration this weekend was Dayna Pidhoresky. Although she was around her previous PB, the conditions for each of her marathon appearances were certainly not ideal. Pidhoresky is a prolific racer, as she raced multiple events this season in lead up for the Ottawa marathon – races that have seen her develop right in front of many Canadians instead of competing in the states all the time.

Her 6th place finish was one spot away from what she needed to be on the road for Tokyo – but 6th certainly gives her the inside track as it will provide her with optimal world ranking points – a new qualifier for the 2020 Olympics. Pidhoresky is one to watch for this Olympic cycle, and she may even turn to the world championships in Doha for her next race. Her full race recap will be on her blog.

  1. Chris Balestrini is amazing

A man also deserving of headlines is Pidhoresky’s pacer – Chris Balestrini. You may be wondering, why does a pacer deserve so much recognition. Balestrini did not just run a 2:37 marathon, but he also finished 4th in the Canadian Championships the night before – in a time of 30:08.

I know the way my legs felt the night after the 10k, and I could not imagine running another kilometre near race pace for another 3 days – let alone the next day. Balestrini is a true trooper.

  1. Ethiopians continue to dominate the women’s race

After the victory by Tigist Girma this weekend, the Ottawa Marathon has officially been dominated by Ethiopian women for a decade. This is in start contrast to the men’s race, which has been a fairly even balance between the two big distance running powerhouses.

I got to thinking why this is and after looking at the top 100 female marathoners in 2018 and so far in 2019 – Ethiopia has more. Kenya, on the other hand, has more male runners in the top 100. Ultimately, however it depends on the agent contacts that elite athlete coordinator Manny Rodrigues works with. In the end, it does not matter to me who wins Ottawa as long as it is a competitive race and fun to watch.

  1. Heat continues to wreak havoc in Ottawa

Like Coolsaet, Ottawa Race Weekend continue to be a slave to the weather. In 2016, the entire weekend was ridiculously hot – reaching highs of 30 degrees – so hot the marathon was almost cancelled. In 2017, the marathon was warm, reaching 25 degrees before the finish. In 2018, the marathon saw superb weather, but the 10k was hot and humid. This year’s conditions were also tough – humid for the 10k and warm and sunny for the full.

Image result for ottawa marathon hot
Courtesy: Run Ottawa

I have heard rumblings that race organizers are hoping to move the weekend to early May, so stay tuned.


 

Thanks for reading!

10 thoughts on “The Rundown and 8 Takeaways from Ottawa Race Weekend

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