Anatomy of Gabriela Stafford’s 5,000-metre indoors national record

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Toronto’s Gabriela Stafford ran a stunning 5,000-metre indoors debut, breaking the Canadian record by a large margin with her 14:57.45 performance. She bettered the previous mark of 15:25.15 by Megan Metcalf-Wright, while competing in the British Milers Club, Glasgow AA Metric Miler Meeting on Friday, January 4th.

Her performance is the second fastest all-time Canadian result between indoors and outdoors. Courtney Babcock ran an outdoors 14:54.98 as the only faster performance of the two disciplines.

She has been training in Scotland with Laura Muir, who earned a silver medal during the March 2018 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 1500-metre distance with her finish time of 4:06.23. She is currently, world-ranked number one in the event.

“I spent the fall training with Andy Young’s group in Glasgow with Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie,” shared Stafford. “With that move, there’s been a big shift in training. Training with an athlete of Laura’s calibre really raises the bar for your own standards.”

Muir has raced the 5,000-metres as fast as 14:52.07 outdoors and 14:49.12 indoors.

Stafford had to know that her fitness was there, to put in the type of race effort required to run a such a big improvement on the national record. When asked about her goal going in she said, “Andy (my coach) threatened to have me run another indoor 5km in a few weeks if I didn’t break the Canadian record, so that definitely had to go! I felt pretty fit so thought that sub- 15 was a reasonable goal, but it’s tough to know what to expect from your debut at a new distance.”

Stafford hadn’t so much as raced 5K in distance indoors or outdoors. Known more as a middle-distance runner, she has excelled at the 1500-metres with an international-level 4:03.55 personal best outdoors and a 4:09.94 indoors.

In the 3,000-metres, she set a new personal best in July last year with an 8:45.67 in London.

Asked about how the race played out, she said, “It was a simple enough race – I just had to keep up with Laura for as long as possible! I let a gap open up toward 3.2km in because Laura was picking up the pace and I was getting nervous that the wheels might fall off in the last few laps if I went with her, so I decided to be conservative and just keep it even at 36-second laps.”

Stafford apparently returns to Toronto this week to finish her final year of university and get married Saturday, January 12. The 24-year-old will return to Scotland to train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.