TORONTO. 29th. Two of Canada's top distance runners, Reid Coolsaet of Guelph's Speed River TFC and and Krista DuChene of Brantford, were announced today as official Champions of Canada Running Series 2012. Ottawa's Rich Minichiello and Calgary's Lisa Harvey are Master's Champions. Coolsaet and DuChene take home an additional $2,500 on top of the prize winnings from individual races; Minichiello and Harvey an extra $750 each. To claim the titles, athletes count their best 3 performances (one of which has to be outside their region of residence), in Canada's most-prestigious, 8 race running circuit. The Series is open to Canadian residents as well as full citizens.
The titles cap off a fine year at home and abroad for both Coolsaet and Duchene. To amass his winning 165 points, Coolsaet notched victories at Toronto Yonge Street 10K in April, at Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon in June, and at the Oasis ZooRun 10K in September, that also doubled as the Athletics Canada National 10K Championships. Both on Yonge Street and in Vancouver, he convincingly won hard-fought battles against Lethbridge's Kip Kangogo who ended up 2nd in CRS 2012 with 136 points. In Coolsaet's absence, Kangogo won the opening day fixture at the Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K in March. Athletics Toronto teammates Matt Loiselle (129 points) and Rejean Chiasson (105), who were always in the fray throughout the year, claimed 3rd and 4th places, with Hamilton's Josephat Ongeri rounding out the money placings in the final standings. In addition to his fine form in the Canada Running Series, Reid also won his Hamilton's Around the Bay 30K in March and represented his country in the London Olympic Games marathon in August. According to Reid:
CRS in 2012 was a great experience for me with some competitive races. I was able to get in a solid time at Yonge Street 10km; I then transferred that speed into [Olympic] marathon training. Scotia Vancouver Half was then instrumental in my Olympic marathon build-up to get me race ready. The ZooRun gave me something to focus on after the Olympics and get me back on the horse. Pacing Stephen Chelimo at Toronto Waterfront was a great way to get in a solid workout and preview the new STWM course for future years.
The Yonge Street 10km was my highlight because of how close the race was with Kip Kangogo. It was exciting and I learned a valuable lesson -- never let up!
In 2013 I will focus on a Spring marathon. That race will dictate my plans for the remainder of the year but I can safely say it will include some key CRS races, as usual.
Reid shows "the double gun", as he successfully defends his title -- by a step -- in a thrilling finish at Toronto Yonge Street 10K
For Krista, it was a year of personal best performances that also saw her qualify to represent Canada in the marathon at the World Championships in Moscow next summer. It was a year that burst out of nowhere following a stellar performance to win the women's race at Around the Bay 30K in an impressive 1:47:04. This was the fastest time since Lioudmila Kortchaguina set the Women's Course Record of 1:46:05 in 2004, and under new coach Rick Mannen it opened up new horizons. On the strength of her Hamilton performance Krista managed to get a last-minute Start place at the prestigious Rotterdam Marathon, just 3 weeks later on April 15th. As an international rookie she blazed a 2:32:06, good for 7th place in a major world-marathon.
"I must say it was one of the first races where I crossed the line with very little emotion just because I was two minutes from the [Canadian Olympic qualifying] standard but had a seven minute personal best,: she remembers. "So it was bittersweet. I don't think I realised until later I took seven minutes off my time and was close to making [the standard]. That was pretty phenomenal."
Although disappointed that Athletics Canada would not show some flexibility in what was a tough standard, and give her a ticket to London, Krista carried on undaunted and set her sights on Canada Running Series 2012! In June she hammered the women's field at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half marathon for the victory in yet another PB, of 1:14:03. She then set her focus on Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where she clocked another marvellous performance finishing 4th overall, 1st Canadian in 2:32:16 on a tough, wet, humid, breezy day that defeated many of the international competitors, or slowed their normal times by several minutes. Along the way, with 160+ kilometre-weeks in her legs, she managed a 5th place finish at Oasis ZooRun (34:48) in September, in her marathon build up.
Winning the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon with a personal best time was certainly a great memory from CRS 2012, but my favourite has to be my fourth place finish at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a near personal best time, particularly considering the inclement weather. Hugging (and kissing !) Race Director Alan Brookes and learning about Mary Davies' win was the icing on the cake!
Krista's CRS 2012 points total of 125 following Waterfront Marathon made her a convincing Series Champion, ahead of Athletics Toronto and Waterloo's Tarah McKay-Korir (winner of Harry's Spring Run Off Toronto 8K and Toronto Yonge Street 10K, with 104 points), Lisa Harvey (92 pts ), Kate Van Buskirk (Athletics Toronto, 78 pts) , and University of Toronto Track Club's Rachel Hannah (winner of Toronto 10 miler, with 74 pts).
One of Krista's "best moments" from CRS 2012: at the Finish line with Race Director Alan Brookes and winner, Mary Davies
"This was a tremendous year of racing up front for Canada Running Series," said CRS Director Alan Brookes. "Olympic year always seems to create that little extra excitement, and bring that much more out of everybody. There we so many great moments, it's hard for me to choose. The quality of Toronto Yonge Street was very special --- we even had Boston Champ Wesley Korir on hand, 6 days after his victory there, to help present awards. And there was such a buzz, and so much drama at STWM. I think the CRS team gave us the best-ever organized CRS event on October 14th! But then Oasis ZooRun had one of the best women's contests we've had in a long time... It's Canada's premier running circuit; all the races are top notch in their own way, I think. Can't wait for 2013!"
Complete CRS 2012 points standings are available online for the Open and the Masters divisions.