Eugene, Calgary and Guelph offer up a weekend of exciting racing

May 27, 2015 0

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This weekend, from Friday, May 29th to Sunday, the 31st, will be a busy one in North American running as the National Track League kicks off in Guelph, Ontario with the Speed River Inferno. Meanwhile the Canadian Half Marathon Championships will take place in Calgary, Alberta and the Prefontaine Classic, as part of the prestigious Diamond League will start the weekend off with a stunning 10,000m race featuring England’s Mo Farah, the 2012 London Olympic double gold medallist.

A record seven athletes with personal bests under the 27-minute benchmark will be in the race including Kenyan’s Josphat Bett, Emmanuel Bett, Geoffrey Kamworor, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Geoffrey Kirui, Titus Kipjumba Mbishei and Leonard Barsoton. Canada’s 2012 London Olympian in the 5,000m and 10,000m is Cameron Levins (27:27.96) and the field will be rounded out by several top-level runners including Mexico’s Deigo Estrada (27:32.90) and American Hassan Mead (27:59.04).

This race has the makings of upsets and benchmarks. Although it is doubtful anyone will take down Kenenisa Bekele’s world record of 26:17.53, Friday night, cracking the rare air of 26:45 is very likely.  The American record of 26:44.36 was set by Galen Rupp at the 2014 edition of this race. There is the potential for several athletes to run that fast.

The International Olympic Committee has considered dropping the 10,000m race from the summer Olympic Games, due to the drop in competitiveness. Perhaps Friday’s showing will provide an exciting demonstration of world-class competition to harken back to the glory days when Paul Tergat, Haile Gebrselassie and Bekele lit up the track.

For the full list and the evening’s exciting schedule, click here.

The Speed River Inferno has been adopted into the popular National Track League along with the long-standing Victoria Track Classic, Harry Jerome Track Classic in Vancouver as well as the Edmonton and Halifax meets.

The inferno is offering an exciting night of racing and an opportunity to see several Canadian Olympians race to qualify for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games, 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships and potentially the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Canada’s fastest active 800m runner and 2012 London Olympian Melissa Bishop, who owns the second-fastest time to the now retired Diane Cummins with her best of 1:59.70 is racing, just behind her is a field of women ready to crack the two-minute barrier, which only four Canadians have done, to date.

The women’s 100m hurdles will be a three-person race led by Edmonton’s Angela Whyte with her best of 12.63, Phylicia George of Toronto (12.65) and Nikkita Holder (12.74) all three are Olympians.

Eleven men in the 5,000m race have gone under 14-minutes. This will be a competitive event that will be led by American Jack Riley, however, all eyes will be on the next five seeded Canadian athletes including Luc Bruchet (13:33.20), Ben Hubers (13:35.97), Ross Proudfoot (13:38.32), Geoff Martinson (13:43.45), Aaron Hendrikx  (13:51.41) and Andrew Nixon (13:55.80) as they try to run at least as fast as 13:23.00, which is the standard to qualify for the World championships.

To see the full list of events and athletes, click here.

The Scotiabank Calgary Marathon and Half Marathon feature the Canadian Half Marathon Championships. Some of Canada’s very best distance runners will be competing for the title including the third-fastest all-time marathon runner Reid Coolsaet of Guelph, Ontario. Coolsaet’s best half-marathon time is 62:42 from 2011. Coolsaet is one of the nice guys in sport. He pulled himself out of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games for several reasons, capped by giving a fellow Canadian a chance at the international meet; someone who may need his spot to gain exposure to the level of competition provided this summer in Toronto. Coolsaet ran the Rotterdam Marathon in mid-April in the time of 2:11:24.

Vancouver’s Kelly Wiebe is also in the race. He is one of Canada’s up and coming distance runners and has already proven himself to be very competitive. He has competed in the World cross country championships three times. He set a personal best in 2015 with a 10,000m time of 28:58.90. His best half marathon was an unchallenged 64:59 two years ago in Victoria.  Wiebe has run several road 10K races in just over 29-minutes, including the 2015 TC10K in 29:08 for the win and a second Canadian position at the Ottawa 10K last week in 29:07.

Lethbridge, Alberta’s Kip Kangogo is always in the mix with the top runners no matter where he races in Canada. His best is 63:22. He will be competitive and will likely contend for the win, as he will be racing close to home.

Calgary’s semi-altitude position of approximately 1,000-metres may have some small effect on race times.

An interesting duel, between two running friends separated by about 4,200-kilometres – the running world is a close-knit community in some ways – is between two, double Canadian record holders, London, Ontario’s Lanni Marchant and Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak. Marchant owns the national record for both the marathon with her time of 2:28:00 and the half-marathon event with a 1:10:47. Wodak owns the slightly less common 8K road record of 25:28 and the much more recognisable 10,000m record, which she just took down on May 2nd at the Payton Jordan Invitational, finishing in 31:41.59 – Marchant wasn’t far behind and finished in 31:46.94. She turned the tables and bettered Wodak more recently at the Ottawa 10K national championships with her time of 31:49 to Wodak’s 31:59. Wodak’s half-marathon best is 1:11:20. The friendly rivalry continues.

Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky is in the race. She is starting to show the former fitness that she displayed in Ontario during 2011. Her personal best from then is a fast 1:11:46. More recently she ran the Vancouver BMO half marathon in the time of 1:13:14.

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