Photo credit: Alan Brookes

© Copyright – 2016 – Athletics Illustrated

Canadians invaded the US this weekend in Texas as well as the University of Washington with some excellent results in the Chevron Houston Marathon, Half Marathon as well as middle-distance indoor racing.

Natasha Wodak ran, for the first time in a long time, an indoor competition. Less than an hour between races on Saturday, the Canadian 10,000-metre record holder from Vancouver raced the mile (1609m) followed by the 3,000m distance event.

Wodak entered the competition one week after taking in the Prairie Inn Harriers Pioneer 8K in Victoria – a race that she has won five times in six years and set the course and national records on with her best of 25:28 from 2013. Her national 10,000m record is 31:41.59 from the 2015 Payton Jordan Invitational in May.

In the 3,000m event she finished with a solid result in 9:12.84. Her mile resulted in a nine second personal best of 4:42.24. She ran the fifth fastest time of four different sections, totalling 50 competitors. Wodak will be competing Wodak_Flash2016Pioneernext in the Kagawa Muragame International Half Marathon on February 7th.

Trinity Western University’s Regan Yee was a little faster at 4:39.74 for third place. Amanda Eccleston and Alli Cash finished 1-2 in 4:36.13 and 4:37.26, respectively. Rachel Cliff also of Vancouver finished three positions behind Wodak in 4:45.85. Unlike Wodak and Cliff the University of Victoria’s Rachel Francois was racing up in distance, she is an 800m specialist. She finished the race in the time of 4:48.85, which would put her 10th out of the 50 athletes in the four races.

During the 3,000m run Canada’s Nicole Sifuentes – one of the strongest 1500m runners in the country – finished second in the time of 9:05.01. Her personal best is only slightly faster at 9:04.40, which she achieved in 2013 in Boston (Roxbury). The race was won by American Kim Conley in the time of 9:01.31. Wodak finished fifth overall, while Cliff, who also doubled, finished ninth in 9:23.31. The University of Victoria’s Shauna McInnis placed 14th in 9:36.74. Other Canadian in the race were Simon Fraser University’s Rebecca Bassett ( 9:40.31), Melissa Jones of the University of Calgary (9:41.01), UVic’s Emma Bibault (10:02.79) and Erina Cho who represents SFU ( 11:33.10).

Full meet results are available, here.

Shawn Barber set a new Canadian indoor record for the Pole Vault event, hitting 6.00m on Saturday in Reno, NV at the Pole Vault Summit. He first cleared 5.94 breaking his own Canadian record, before clearing the 6.00m height. Barber won gold in the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that took place in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. The 21-year-old is the youngest to reach the height and has taken the meet record by eight centimetres.

On Sunday, at the Chevron Houston Marathon and half marathon, there were several Canadians in action including Rachel Hannah, who was competing in her third marathon. She narrowly set a personal best by just 81 seconds from her debut at the distance from the 2015 Ottawa Marathon, to finish in the time of 2:32.34.

She told Athletics Illustrated, “The temperature was perfect. There were a couple more roller-hills than I might have expected from what I had heard about the Houston race, but in general it’s a fast course. The crowds were supportive cheering – my name on my bib,” Said the 2015 Pan Am Games bronze medallist. “I may try for a marathon again in late spring 2016. We’ll figure that out in the coming weeks.”

Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky, who appears fit and ready to have a strong debut marathon ran into some gastrointestinal issues during the first 25-kilometres and had to forfeit. Pidhoresky was on pace for finishing in approximately 2:30:00. The Canadian standard to make the Olympic team for Rio is 2:29:50.

Krista DuChene of Brantford already has the time from her 2015 Rotterdam Marathon 2:29:38 performance as does Canada’s record holder in the event, Lanni Marchant with her 2015 Toronto Waterfront Marathon effort of 2:28:09. Canada will send three qualified athletes to Rio to compete in any event. There are several Canadians that are ready to make the move to sub-2:30:00 including both Pidhoresky and Hannah.

Pidhoresky has run a half marathon as fast as 1:11:46 in 2011.

DuChene ran the half-marathon and finished in the time of 1:14:26, which was exactly what she was looking for. Although she didn’t say it, it appears that she was running goal marathon pace. “I am healthy, and felt solid and strong throughout the entire race. My last kilometre was my quickest, which is a good sign,” said the 2013 world championships competitor. “One hour and 14-minutes was my goal time. Fitness is steadily returning since breaking my foot in August. More work to do, but I’m in a good place.” She also broke her femur less than two years ago, but preserved and recovered fully.

Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall – Watson leading Pioneer 8K

Her Coach Rick Mannen said, “Congratulations to Krista DuChene for finishing 17th female and top Canadian woman in the Houston Half Marathon this morning in a time of 1:14:26, going through 5K splits in: 17:42-17:31-17:44-17:48. [She is] Right where we want to be with eight months to Rio.”

Her personal best from two years ago is just 32 seconds from Marchant’s national record of 2:28:00.

Rob Watson of Vancouver, like Wodak, ran the Pioneer 8K and won it in the time of 23:47. It appeared that he may have employed the same tactics in the two events: go out hard and hang on, it worked will in Victoria and paid off in Houston, as he finished in the time of 63:58. His personal best at the distance is 63:22 from the New York Half Marathon from two years ago.

Brandon Lord

Other Canadians who performed well were Brandon Lord (also ran Pioneer 8K) originally from Sudbury, but has been living mostly stateside. He finished in the time of 64:03. Toronto’s Sami Jibril crossed the line in 64:30 for a new personal best. Erin Burrett – the 2015 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon winner – competed in the half marathon as well; she finished in the time of 1:14:45 also with a new personal best.

“Krista DuChene and I discussed our own goals which turned out quite similar, so after the gun, I was quickly able to locate Krista and we ran together for nearly the first 15km,” said the Nanaimo resident. “Unfortunately I then had some unfortunate GI issues that caused me to slow a few times in order to keep things in control. I fell off pace, and then would pull back before the GI warned me again. This happened three times before I hit the last mile and finally felt under control so I picked it up. I was gaining ground and able to pick off two women, but was unable to catch Krista and the pack she was with.”

Burrett_FlashBurrett was looking for a 1:14:00 finish time. After her victory in the Victoria marathon, she took some down time to recover. “Considering my GI issues, I am happy with the 1:14:45,” added Burrett.

Asked if she plans to run a spring marathon this year she said, “The plan right now is to still run Rotterdam in April, but nothing has been booked yet so plans could still change.”

The men’s marathon was won by Ethiopian Gebo Burka in the time of 2:10:54; the first four finishers were from Ethiopia. The top Canadian was Calem Neff, who finished in the time of 2:23:19 and in 23rd place.

The first woman in the marathon was also Ethiopian, Biruktayit Degefa finished in the time of 2:26:07. The second Canadian was Alisa MacDonald who finished in 2:44:43 also for 23rd place.

The first finisher in the men’s half marathon was Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia who crossed the line in 60:37. Mary Wacera of Kenya won the women’s half in the time of 66:29.