By Paul Gains

A podium finish on his last visit to Toronto left such an impression on Felix Kandie that he eagerly accepted an invitation to return for the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th.

The Kenyan star finished third at the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon in a time of 2:08:30, though he can point to a personal best of 2:06:03. Toronto Tourism would do well to hire the now 35-year-old to promote Canada’s biggest city as his review is simply glowing.

“Back then when I was in Toronto I felt like I was at home,” he says during a video call from his home in Iten, Kenya.

“It was nice for me. The city is so beautiful; the people are very friendly and the organization of the Toronto (Waterfront) Marathon is awesome. The town is indeed very good for competition. All the athletes love it and the course is very good.

“I just walked about the place we were staying. I walked to the (Eaton Centre) mall and even when I was going for morning runs, evening runs, before the race, I used the opportunity to view Toronto and see how it is. It was amazing. Along the park down towards the lake it was very nice. I am looking forward to having another experience in Toronto.”

Most athletes prefer to limit their excursions when they travel in order to preserve valuable energy for their competition. But the well-traveled Kandie knows his limits. And his wanderlust has not affected his racing by any means.  This past April he ran 2:07:18 to finish 7th in the Seoul Marathon.

Following his initial Toronto appearance, he went on to finish 4th in the 2019 Boston Marathon and then 5th in Berlin – two of the Abbott Marathon Majors – and so missed the remarkable 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That’s where his compatriot, Philemon Rono, set a Canadian All-comers record of 2:05:00 with three more men coming home in the next thirteen seconds. News of the exceptional times that day reverberated around the running world.

“When they ran the race in that time it was really good news for me because it proved Toronto is a fast course,” he declares, “and secondly it assured it’s possible for everybody to run good. When they run personal bests it is something good and this inspired me to realize I have the chance to improve my personal best in Toronto because they have proven it’s a fast course.”

Rono returns to Toronto joining fellow Kenyan Barselius Kipyego and Ethiopia’s Yihunilign Adane as favourites, so the field is worthy of the World Athletics Elite Label designation it has earned. While the other Kenyans belong to groups that train together Monday to Friday at special training camps, Kandie stays at home in Iten. It’s just as well. He and his wife Millicent have started a family.

“Yeah I have a family,” he says with a smile. “After the Toronto [Waterfront] Marathon in 2018 that’s when I got married to my lovely wife and we have a son. His name is Adrian, he is around 5 months old now.

“Right now I am staying at my home in Iten. It’s a training centre for many athletes in Kenya and even those who come from abroad. We usually meet for training sessions with all the other athletes. Currently I am training with Gilbert Kirwa and Albert Kangogo. Gilbert Kirwa I think ran there [Toronto] in 2015 and was in the second position.”

Kandie reports his training is going according to plan and his hopes for a personal best remain intact.

“I think I started my training early enough that I will be able do all the necessary sessions in order for me to perform well in Toronto,” he concludes. “I have completed about 95% of my training and now am finalising the last part. I am looking for a fantastic result in Toronto.”

Like many professional runners, Kandie is intent on earning money for his post athletics career. He has a farm and has made inroads into real estate, building rental properties.

“Actually, in the future I am looking forward to [really] getting into the real estate business,” he reveals. “It is a nice investment in Kenya. Also our company does farming. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket. You have to diversify; at least two or three investments would be nice. We have to balance.”

Once again, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon has the potential to see records broken as the elites compete for prize money. The winner will receive CAD $25,000 with a new course record worth a bonus of CAD $15,000. Kandie of course could put some of that money to good use for his family’s future but he also has more tangible objectives for the race.

“I am looking forward to running a fantastic race and improving my personal best,” he says.  “This is my aim.  Also, to get in a good position. This will help me to improve. I want to win or, if that is not possible, to get on the podium. Above that I want to run a personal best.”