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Cover photo: Todd Fraser/Canada Running Series

Kinsey Middleton won the Ottawa Marathon on Sunday, May 29 in a new personal best time of two hours, 30 minutes, and eight seconds (2:30:08).

It is a first-time victory at the distance for the Idaho resident. She did, however, win the 2018 Canadian Marathon Championships in Toronto, as she was the first Canadian across the finish line. She clocked a 2:32:09 performance, but there were international athletes ahead of her.

The improvement may be better than the two-minute difference indicates. Sunday’s Ottawa Marathon was run in warm temperatures and the course is rolling, whereas Toronto offers a faster near-flat route. Middleton didn’t have much opportunity to heat acclimatize for Ottawa — a race that often takes Canadians by surprise, as temperatures can rise quickly in May in the Ottawa region.

Middleton entered the race looking for at least the World Championships qualification standard of sub-2:29:30 and although she missed it, she is pleased with the win.

“The plan was to go with the 2:28:30 pace crew,” shared the 29-year-old. “My training was indicating that sort of fitness was there, so I was really confident in this plan. We had a great group of women working together from the start and a fantastic pacer (Kevin — who ran very even splits). We came through halfway right on target (1:14:15-ish) and I felt extremely comfortable. I knew I was in third place at that point, so I was hoping to just hang onto that spot to the finish.”

And that she did, passing the two women in front of her to take the lead, but the heat and toll from the hills began to set in.  

“By 25K, it was just Kevin and me in the 2:28 pack, and he let me know he was going to stop for the day. I was a bit nervous to continue the rest of the race solo but hoped I could try and chase down the first place woman who was still up ahead. I caught up to her around 30K and pulled into the lead. At that point, I was in shock and thought “did I just become the lead woman in this whole marathon?!”

“I tried to stay calm and just keep clicking the kilometres away. The pacer who had been with the previous leader left her to pace me to the finish (so grateful to Lee for that massive help). Just after 35K, I started to get very thirsty and warm and a few minutes later I could tell the pace had slowed. Those hills throughout the course were no joke and I sure was paying for them now. I asked Lee how far back second place was and he said he couldn’t see anyone. I still had a time goal of sub 2:29:30, so I desperately tried to hang on to that. That specific goal for the day may have been missed by 39 seconds, but winning the whole race was a goal I hadn’t even considered aiming for. I was in shock at the finish and thrilled beyond my wildest dreams.” 

Fellow Canadian Elissa Legault finished in second place in the time of 2:33:26. Finishing in the third position was American Katja Goldring in 2:33:57.

Legault improved upon her own personal best from Berlin in Sept. 2021 at 2:38:13. Goldring owns a personal best of 2:31:30. She ran even faster with a 2:30:14 performance, however, that was on the Sacramento Marathon route, which runs point to point with a net downhill, so is listed with an asterisk.

Eight women ran sub-2:40:00 including former Canadian record holder Lanni Marchant who owns a best of 2:28:00. She clocked a 2:39:42 finish time. Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky who competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games finished sixth in 2:36:21.

As for preparation, Middleton wishes she could have used more time in the heat — next time.

“I wish I would have done more preparations for the heat. It has been dry and cold where I train so I just tried to workout later in the day (when it was slightly warmer) and focus on practicing my fuelling (to train my stomach as best I could for race day). Looking at the weather a few days out, I thought the temps would not be too hot during the race. However, the warm temps certainly did become an issue and really started to affect me around 35k. Up to that point, the temperature felt great and not too warm. I had started pouring water on my head before I was overheating at the suggestion of Natasha Wodak, which was terrific advice! I think that helped prolong the “feeling good” portion of the race. But for future warm weather races, I plan to do some sauna sessions to better prepare for the later stages of a warm-weather race.”

Middleton is motivated and wants to run another marathon and go after 2:28:00 but her next race is yet to be determined.

“Now that the race is over, I’m already looking at what’s the come. I still think that 2:28 fitness is there (especially on a flatter and faster course), so I’m hoping to line up to race again soon. I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

Middleton was a Big Sky Conference Champion in the 5000m for the Idaho Vandals. She had switched schools after competing for the Oregon State University Beavers. She set a Vandals’ school record in the 10,000m with a 33:18 performance. Middleton went on to compete in the 2018 IAAF (World Athletics) Half Marathon Championships. She owns bests of 32:30.82 in the 10,000m event, 1:11:48 (2020) in the half-marathon, and a road 10K best of 33:20 from 2017.

Aside from the 2022 Boston Marathon performance by Malindi Elmore at 2:27:58 which doesn’t count toward qualification standards, Middleton’s performance is the national lead for 2022.

The Canadian record is held by Elmore from the 2019 Houston Marathon with her 2:24:50 performance.

Results are available here>>