© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

O’Connell from 2016 Vic City Invite. Credit: Christopher Kelsall

Canadians continue to run well into early 2019. The latest outstanding performance happened Saturday in New York at the prestigious Millrose Games. Calgary’s Jessica O’Connell took down the national 3,000-metre indoor record going 8:46.50. The performance was more than two seconds faster than the old record which was set by Edmonton’s Megan Metcalfe-Wright. She set the record during the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain. Metcalfe-Wright finished in the time of 8:48.56.

Asked what, in her training, led to the improved performance, she told Athletics Illustrated, “My training has been going really well and workouts have been strong and speedy, but this was my first race since the summer following my Achilles injury and first indoor race in a few years, so even though my workouts suggested I was ready to run well, I was still nervous, or cautiously optimistic you could say – which I think is pretty natural! I thought that if I had a great day the record would be in reach, and I knew that the strong field of racers and magic of the Millrose Games would create a great opportunity.”

When opportunity knocks…

“I was really happy with my positioning, and I was lucky to be oblivious to the fall that happened behind me by a few of the top runners,” added the 30-year-old. “The pace felt strong but definitely tolerable, and I made a move at the end to dip under the record time which I was pleased about.”

Her previous best at the distance was 8:53:09. Her best outdoor 3,000-metres is 8:46.86.

O’Connell will be racing in the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Feb. 16. She will then compete the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in March which is taking place in Aarhus, Denmark. O’Connell will then prepare for an outdoor track season, where she specializes in the 5,000-metre event.

Her personal best in the 5,000-metres s 15:06.44 from 2015, where she ran the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.

Asked if the performance changes her spring plans, she said, “Not really, but the race does give me confidence that I am healthy and fit, and makes me excited for the many more races that I will be competing in over the next few months!”

Other Canadian performances from Millrose:

Women’s 60m hurdles: Astrid Nyame finished fourth in 8.34 seconds, while Phylicia George was fifth in 8.37. In the men’s 60m hurdles Johnathan Cabral finished sixth in the time of 7.83 seconds. Maya Stephens finished fifth in the women’s 400m in the time of 54.52.

Ben Flanagan took in the 3,000m and finished 10th in the time of 7:54.40.

Langley Mustangs continue to impress

Saturday, Regan Yee won Section 3 (fastest of three) of the 5,000m indoor races at the University of Washington with her 15:35.28 performance. It was a new personal as well as a club-best performance.

Vancouver Thunderbird and UBC Thunderbird athlete John Gay won the second section of the 5,000m distance in the time of 13:57.04. It was a very strong performance considering his outdoor best is slightly slower at 13:57.68.

In the men’s 3,000m event Rob Denault with Vic City Elite won Section 3 in the time of 7:57.77, while Coastal Track Club’s Justin Kent was fifth in 8:01.97. Denault’s teammate Elijah Silva won the first of the three 800m races in the time of 1:52.76.

Results: https://gohuskies.com/documents/2019/2/8/2019_Husky_Classic_By_Heats.pdf

Vancouver First Half Half Marathon

Thirty-five-year-old Dylan Wykes on Sunday won the First Half Half Marathon in Vancouver, finishing in the time of one hour and six minutes (66:00). Not bad for running most of his training on the treadmill.

Finishing in second was Miles2Marathon partner-coach Rob Watson of Vancouver, who crossed the finish line in the time of 66:41. The third-place finisher was Anthony Tomsich, also a coach with Miles2Marathon – must be something right with their training to go 1-2-3. Tomsich finished just six seconds back of Watson.

“Today was great,” said Wykes. “I did not know what to expect coming in. I live in Ottawa now and almost all of my running has been done inside on the treadmill. That said I’ve trained pretty consistently since Canadian Cross Country Championships in November. So, I was hoping I’d at least be in the mix with Rob (Watson), Tony (Tomsich), Trevor (Hofbauer) and Kevin (Coffey).

Coffey of Vancouver finished fourth in 67:43, while Calgary’s Hofbauer was fifth in 68:04.

The top master was Vancouver’s Jeremiah Ziak in eighth overall in the time of 71:01. He bested Craig McMillan (71:32) and Steve MacIntyre (75:16) to round out the top three men over-40.

The temperature was near freezing and a strong breeze blew in from “Arctic outflow winds” according to Environment Canada. The performances were strong despite the cold temperatures.

Wykes’ personal best in the half is 62:14 from New York in 2011. He has also run 62:38 in 2012 from Tempe, AZ. Wykes was one of a group of Canadian marathon runners who chased the 1975 Canadian marathon record that was set by Jerome Drayton at 2:10:09. He ran as fast as 2:10:47 in Rotterdam in April 2012. Also in that group was Antigonish, NS runner Eric Gillis and Guelph’s Reid Coolsaet, who was the closest to Drayton’s record at 2:10:28 in Sept. 2015 at Berlin.

Black Creek, BC’s Cameron Levins finally brought the record down with his performance in Toronto 2018 crossing the line in the time of 2:09:25.

Asked if he would race another marathon Wykes told Athletics Illustrated, “I do not have any plans for a marathon. Currently, life does not allow me to train enough to really make it worth my while. I’m enjoying the training I’m doing and for now am simply happy to be healthy and fit and back doing some racing. I’ll likely race a bunch more in Ontario in the spring at 5k to half-marathon distances.”

“It was fun to be out there racing in Vancouver again, especially with some of my closest friends and with so many of the athletes we coach as part of Mile2Marathon. It was a really special day.”

Vancouver’s Robyn Mildren won the women’s race in the time of 77:43. She was followed in by North Vancouver’s Andrea Lee (78:42) and Bellingham, WA runner Courtney Olsen (79:03).

The top master (40-plus) was Victoria’s, Marilyn Arsenault. She ran in the 50-54 age-group, stopping the clock at 80:57. Nearly six minutes back was Melanie Kassel and the third master was Genevieve Cauffope in 88:41.

“I was happy with my effort today. It can be a good experience racing in less than ideal conditions, so I took the opportunity today to try not give into excuses. I had a few weak moments but generally, I stayed focused.”

Results: http://firsthalf.ca/results-2019/