By Paul Gains
Two time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis heads up a strong men’s field while Canadian marathon record holder Lanni Marchant is the women’s favourite in the 2015 Yonge Street 10km race April 19th.
Gillis, a 35 year old Guelph, Ontario resident won this race last year with a time of 28:32 and went on to capture 2014 Canadian National titles in both the 10k and the Half-Marathon. He finished off the calendar year with a new personal best at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (2:11:21). It was no surprise that he was also the Canada Running Series overall champion.
He had intended to run the Rotterdam marathon this spring but a nagging case of tendonitis in his shin interrupted his marathon training and he was forced to change direction.
A spring road race season is now in the cards. A victory at the Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k (24:18) last Saturday, April 4th amply demonstrated that he is in good shape.
“Yes I was pleased with (my performance) at Harry’s Spring Run-Off,” Gillis says. “It’s always nice getting a win and I felt in control at the end of a big week of training.
“It was nice getting a race in before the Toronto Yonge Street 10k. I haven’t raced since the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October. So the Harrys’ run is bound to help with confidence for (the race in) two weeks’ time. I’ll bring down my training more before Toronto Yonge Street 10k to make sure I’m fresh and read to go.”
Toronto Yonge Street 10k attracts a huge field and, like the Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, is part of the Canada Running Series. Gillis faces a formidable challenge in Toronto from Athletics Toronto Track Club teammates Matt Loiselle and Sami Jibril.
Loiselle is returning from two years of injuries and chased Gillis around High Park to finish 2nd at Harry’s Spring Run Off in a time of 24:40 twenty-two seconds behind Gillis.
“Training is going well now,” Loiselle says. “I feel like I’m starting to turn a corner. It was tough getting through the cold winter in Toronto, as anyone who was training here knows, but now spring is here and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m excited for this year’s Toronto Yonge Street 10k. For whatever reason, it’s really never fit into my plans since I’ve been living in Toronto. It will be another stepping stone as I try to get back to the level I was once at. I know it’s a fast course and the competition is always great so I’m really looking forward to it.”
For the past four years Loiselle has provided accounting services for a large health food and supplement store in Markham called Nature’s Emporium.
“They are very understanding of my training and racing schedule so it’s a great place for me to work,” he adds. “I’m also in the process of obtaining my Certified Public Accountant license, so I’m in the middle of taking courses for that. I’ve also been coaching the distance team at York University for about a year and a half, and I do some online coaching as well on the side.”
Equally busy and determined to perform well is training partner Sami Jibril. The 26 year old works the 3pm – 11pm shift as a streetcar maintenance repairman at the Toronto Transit Commission and fits in training before and after work. Twice he has run 29:16 at the Toronto Yonge Street 10k finishing as high as 3rd in the race’s 2013 edition.
“My fitness is better than last year,” Jibril insists. “I have had a great winter training without warm weather training camp this year. My main goal is to ‘PB’; I have run identical times back to back years of 29:15.5.
“Eric Gillis is a great Canadian champion and is, by far, the favourite to win. I will be focusing on myself and am preparing to finish in the top three and challenge the top guys for the 2015 Yonge street 10k title.”
Jibril tried his hand at the longer distance in March finishing 3rd at last month’s Around The Bay 30k Road Race in Hamilton with a time of 1:35:48. Consequently, he rested through this weekend’s Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k a race he won two years ago.
Marchant, who ran 31:58 on this course to take the 2013 race, will be challenged by Tarah Korir, the 2012 race champion. Both have recently spent time training in Kenya.
Korir, is married to 2012 Boston Marathon champion, Wesley Korir, and spends several months a year in the country as Wesley is the Member of Parliament for Cherangany district.
Marchant recently won the Modo Spring Run-Off Vancouver 8k in 26:43. That race kicked off the 2015 Canada Running Series. She then finished 4th in the 10,000m at the Stanford Invitational. Her time there (32:11.06) was a new personal best and the second fastest time ever recorded by a Canadian.
The 31 year old from London, Ontario is best known for setting a Canadian marathon record of 2:28:00 at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
“I will be doing the Payton Jordan 10000m in May,” she reveals. “I love the longer stuff. I can run marathon pace until the cats come home but getting me to run quicker is proving to be a bit of a task! So, I was happy to get out and race Modo 8k as a rust buster.
“I am doing the Pan Am Games Marathon definitely, so (I will) play around with the shorter stuff then by May I will do my last 10k and turn our heads back to the longer stuff and what I am more comfortable with anyways.”
Another runner to watch at this year’s Toronto Yonge Street 10k is Flotrack World Beer Mile champion Corey Gallagher from Winnipeg. A year ago he ran a personal best time of 30:32 at this race to finish a credible 10th overall.
“For Toronto Yonge street 10k I’m really looking to set a ‘PB’ and aim for top 10 overall,” he says. “To ‘PB’ I think I need to be a little more aggressive at the start and not sit back or be scared to go for it.”
Since winning the beer mile championship the Canada Post worker has been in the news constantly.
“It’s crazy how much attention I have got since I won Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships,” he says laughing. “I figured it would be like most things – fifteen minutes of fame – but here we are going on five months later and I’m still getting attention.
“The response at the Modo 8k was amazing. People were nice and curious about what a beer mile was. I think people like hearing about the Beer mile, everyone understands a mile and most people have had a beer. So mixing the two and hearing how fast I do both (5:00.23) seems to catch people’s attention. I’m enjoying chatting with people about the Beer Mile, and getting everyone’s take on it, positive or negative.”
As part of the nationwide Canada Running Series, the Toronto Yonge Street 10k maintains the high standard set by a full time professional management team. The downhill point to point course offers runners the chance to lower their personal best times and have an enjoyable time doing it. It is also an important fundraiser for Red Door Family Shelter.
For more information about the 2015 Yonge Street 10km race including registration please see: www.Toronto10k.ca