© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

“Great things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
– Abraham Lincoln

For Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky, provisionally qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was a career-long effort. The 33-year-old has trained and raced near the international-level for at least 14 years, often coming close and winning many races along the way. Until now though, she has run just at the edge of national team qualification.

Finishing as the first Canadian in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday changed all that. She also managed to earn an eye-popping new personal best time by seven minutes and five seconds, going 2:29:03 and more importantly she finished 27 seconds faster than the Olympic qualification standard for Tokyo 2020.

“It feels great! It’s validating and invigorating to finally get that done,” Shared Pidhoresky. “[This] proves that we’ve been doing the right things all along and for it to finally come together when it counts is truly blissful.”

Crossing the finish line in Toronto, she covered her face with her hands, clearly grateful for the long-awaited result.

Other notable wins that proved she could race when it counts include her being the first woman to win the historic Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, ON four times – at least two of those victories were run into cold hard headwinds. She also won back-to-back TC10Ks in Victoria (2017 and 2018). In May, she won the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. While none of her performances suggested a sub-2:30:00 marathon was in the cards yet, she knew it was within her grasp. She patiently toiled in the sport, but many good race performances still seemed to fall a little short – Toronto was indeed a validation of her training program.

Even for Toronto, the marathon training was not as smooth as she would have liked it to be.

“The build was rough, yes. I think I was struggling with some low iron levels in June through to August and we finally addressed them in late August. Within weeks I was feeling much better and easy runs actually felt easy again with workouts coming together shortly after.”

In May, her half-marathon win was a 1:13:07, which points to a 2:36 marathon, her previous personal best.

“I was always doing what was planned but things were so, so hard. Thankfully, the final seven weeks leading into Toronto were solid and it seems like my body was ready to roll at just the right time. We were confident that I was primed and ready to perform well, so at the start line, I knew it was just up to me to show that off! I knew I had it in me; it was a special day.”

The Olympic benchmark is 2:29:30. Only three athletes can be nominated to Team Canada per event. Pidhoresky is currently the second-fastest Canadian behind Vancouver’s Rachel Cliff who holds the national marathon record that she set in Nagoya, Japan in March of this year at 2:26.56.

The qualifying period started on January 1, 2019, and ends on May 31, 2020.

The Toronto Marathon was chosen by Athletics Canada as the Canadian Marathon Trials. A trials winner who also achieves the standard automatically qualifies for Team Canada.

Traditionally, weight has been given to both the Toronto Marathon and the Ottawa Marathon, which is run in late May. The Ottawa Marathon will now be a defacto last chance opportunity as it is run on May 24, one week prior to the deadline.

Athletes have seven more months to attempt to qualify to make Team Canada. One athlete who missed Toronto due to injury, but was very likely to run sub-2:29:30, is Kelowna’s Malindi Elmore, a former 1500m runner who is making a late-career charge back to the international running scene. She debuted in the marathon in Houston on January 20th with a 2:32:15 performance at 38 years of age. By the time Tokyo is run, she will be 40.

Canadian women age speedily.

Adding to the crowd is Kington, ON runner Emily Tallen-Setlack. In Toronto, she ran a personal best time and missed the standard by 18 seconds, finishing in 2:29:48. She is now age 39 and will also be 40 when Tokyo is run.

For Tallen-Setlack and Elmore, they haven’t given up yet. Tallen-Setlack will be racing in the spring and it is likely Elmore will want one more crack at the Olympic standard.

“I am definitely planning to do another marathon, not sure where maybe Rotterdam! I feel pretty confident that I’ve got more in me, in both training and a race,” said Tallen-Setlack.

Read about the confusing Olympic standards here>>