iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

The Canada Army Run: Strong. Proud. Ready.

September 29th, 2014


To be shamefully honest, I don’t dedicate much thought about what our Canadian Armed Forces do for us.  Everyday, our military is at home and abroad protecting Canada and its sovereignty. In a sense, when the Canadian Army is doing its job, I don’t even notice it as I freely go about doing my work, spending time with my family, and tweeting about my latest running escapades.


The unique dog-tag medals of the Canada Army Run.

On September 21st, I had the privilege to run alongside our military heroes by participating in the seventh annual Canada Army Run. The event is one of the fastest growing races in Canada starting with 7,000 participants in its inaugural year in 2008 to 25,000 participants in 2014 and I looked forward to seeing firsthand just why this race had become so popular.

A Comouflagaristic Shirt

My brother and I arrived in Ottawa on the Friday afternoon before the race and it was that favourite time again: the pre-race expo. We picked up our race bibs at Ottawa City Hall and then headed over to the expo to pick up our race shirts.

Being the schwagofile that I am, I always enjoy getting a new running shirt. But for this race, I had a bit of trepidation, as I was concerned that the shirt would be full of military camouflage. I personally don’t have a need to blend into the forest as I run and I’ve just never taken to a camouflage print pattern (the same goes for tiger stripes too in case you’re wondering).


Camouflage accents, detailed logos, and reflective details make the shirt.

When I received the shirt, however, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a tasteful touch of camo, and I was impressed with the detailed 100th anniversary logos of two Canadian Army regiments that were featured on the shirts: the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the Royal 22e Régiment. Reflective details were also incorporated which makes it a great fall training shirt during lower-light conditions.

Inspired Carbo-Loading

The evening before the race, my brother and I had the opportunity to attend the pasta dinner. The food is prepared by military cooks and served “field-kitchen style” which made for a unique dining experience.


It was a great honour to meet and listen to Rick Hansen.

The best parts of the evening, however, were the inspirational speakers. Honorary Colonel Rick Hansen powered up onto the stage and reminded us to “never give up” in the face of adversity. The work he had done in raising over $300 million to improve the lives of people with disabilities was recognized with a standing ovation. Running Room founder, John Stanton, passionately pointed out the need for us to support our military members who are suffering from illness or injury. As runners, we often suffer from temporary injuries and setbacks whereas members of our military, their injuries are permanent and we need to do our best to help them out.

A Dry Start With a Bang

As with any race, I got into my usual habit of “weather stalking” where the forecast kept calling for rain. As I awoke on race day and peered outside, however, it was surprisingly dry. We trotted down to the race start and were able to quickly drop off our bags and get into our corrals.

The race literally started with a bang as 105mm Howitzer cannon was used as the starter’s pistol – anyone within 1 km radius would know that the race had started. The course started us past the Parliament buildings and then west towards an out-and-back along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. I would describe the course as flat-ish with some gentle rolling hills that looked worse than they actually were.


The official military pace vehicle for the race.

We then crossed north across the Ottawa River into Gatineau and then over the Alexandra Bridge towards Sussex Drive. Crowd support was good with many designated cheer stations along the way. A brilliant new addition to this year’s course served as a shining highlight as we were permitted to run through the Governor General’s residence of Rideau Hall. The manicured grounds, secret service presence and the chance to high-five our Governor General, David Johnston, were definitely the most inspired parts of the course.

An Epic Wet Finish

For this race, my A goal was to chase after a sub 1:30:00 half-marathon time with my B goal being to beat my personal best of 1:34:30. As I headed into the 16K mark, I knew that I had run a solid race thus far but was a touch behind. Given my knowledge of the weather forecast, my mantra was “hurry up before it rains!”


Very happy with a new personal best.

By the time the 17K mark came, it started to pour. At this point the weather didn’t matter as I was just focused on finishing through the race. I was able to hold a strong pace towards the finish and it felt good being able to pass people towards the end (it’s usually the other way around for me). I ended with a 1:31:03, which is a great personal best and a very fair and satisfying result for me.

A Grateful End

At the finish, I received my dog-tag medal and I was honoured to have it given to me by a member of the armed forces. After the usual fare of bagels and yogurt, I was excited to receive a light fabric hoody to help keep us warm. As one runner surmised, the hoody was definitely better than the usual tin-foiled baked potato look we often have post-race.


My brother Gary models the finish line hoody.

The Canadian Army’s motto is “Strong, proud and ready” and I definitely experienced all of these feelings as a participant in this race. But the overwhelming feeling for me is one of gratitude. This race helped me to better appreciate all the service and protection our military offers us so that we can literally run free to chase our dreams. As a runner, you should definitely do this race to enjoy the course, the great race organization, and the crowd support. As a Canadian, you should definitely participate to say “thank you.”

A thankful and proud Canadian,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Breaking the cycle of injury: Part 2 of 3

September 25th, 2014

Cole Burston/iRun photo by Cole Burston

iRun to clear my head. Running helps me burn off steam, recharge and refocus. I think it helps make me a better husband, father, colleague and friend.

In the September 2014 issue of iRun, Josh Greenberg — runner, cyclist, family man and a university professor in Ottawa shares part 1 of his journey to break out of a vicious cycle of running injury and finish his next race pain-free. In part 2 of this series, he speaks to the steps it takes—and the ones he’s taken—to get him running injury-free.

The Road to Recovery

By Josh Greenberg
It seems almost everyone in my running network is dealing with one ache and injury or another these days: shin splints, achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, ITBS – the list goes on. We’re all juggling families and careers, trying to squeeze in a workout between rushing from a meeting to a kid’s hockey practice or daycare pickup. In my case, this too frequently leads to shortcuts in warm-ups. And forget about stretching to aid in recovery and repair. 90 per cent of the time, I have a small window of opportunity for a run, head out the door, and try to just log as many kilometres as possible.

In the first part of this series I talked about my struggle with chronic injury and pain, and how in the winter of 2010-11, I tore my right calf and achilles during a very sloppy build-up to my first Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon. That race wasn’t a total bust: I finished with a limp and walked more than I’d have liked, but my time was respectable, all things considered, and the experience of completing the event was exhilarating. Aside from running longer than I’d ever run before, I was drawn in by the atmosphere of the race, both on and off the course. Cresting the Alexandria Bridge and running onto Colonel By Drive into what I can only describe as a tidal wave of applause and support is an amazing feeling.

I’ve competed in about a dozen races of varying distances ever since, and in almost every case I’ve either started or finished my race injured. After a perfectly normal start, a sharp, stabbing pain comes seemingly from nowhere (there are never trigger warnings), typically seizing in the gastrocnemius, and radiating intense pain into my soleus and achilles tendon.

If I were smart, I would stop, stretch, massage at the point of injury, and then gently walk home. But I’m not smart. Instead, I do what I think many other runners do: push through the pain and finish my run.

This repetitive cycle of injury is frustrating and has become tediously predictable. It’s also expensive. Although I have a decent health plan that is better than many, I spent the equivalent of our annual family ski pass on paramedical services last year. The situation has become so discouraging that I’ve considered giving up on running altogether. I no longer have a witty answer to my neighbour who jokingly asks, “Isn’t this supposed to be making you healthy?”

  • Are these chronic injuries related to the aging process? I’m now in my 40s and I know that I used to recover from injury far more quickly than I do now.
  • Is the problem related to how I’m training? I know that a proper warmup and cool down, including stretching and regular strength and conditioning training, are important. But is the fact that I too often take shortcuts to blame?
  • Is there something wrong with my gait? Am I pronating, supinating or otherwise biomechanically flawed? Is orthotics or new shoes the best solution?

I wanted answers to these and other questions so that I can get on the road to running pain free as soon as possible. I can’t continue run in pain all the time, and, besides, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractics should be services I use occasionally, not all the time. And my family shouldn’t have to put up with all the melancholy and sadness that accompanies these periods of re-injury.

One of my running partners recommended a gait analysis at Solefit in Ottawa to see if the problem was biomechanical in nature, and whether I was using the right type of footwear. Solefit’s mission is to “help identify the root cause of biomechanical issues or injuries and to make recommendations on how to resolve them.” Their team of Certified Pedorthists uses a number of diagnostic procedures, including a thorough running and injury history, and video analysis that includes anterior, sagittal, and posterior views of an athlete’s running gait. The purpose is to identify any problems with running technique, efficiency and force distribution, to assess footwear choice and to see whether orthotics, braces or other aids may be required permanently or just in the short term to get back on the road to running injury free.

I met with Ryan Grant, one of Solefit’s co-owners, on August 25. Ryan is also a competitive runner and has a great reputation for getting weekend warriors and serious athletes back on their feet. We talked a lot about my history of injury, my frustrations with recovery, the types of shoes I’ve used, and my short and long term running goals and objectives. I explained to Ryan that my main goal is to get to a point where I can run regularly without pain. But I’m also a competitive (recreational) runner, and would like to compete at the inaugural MEC Fall Classic Half Marathon in Gatineau Park on November 1. My first priority is to come out of that race healthy and ready for a solid winter of training. After a disappointing 2014 Ottawa Half Marathon, I’m intent on running a PB next May.

I spent about an hour and a half with Ryan in Solefit’s Ottawa clinic discussing my injury history; he examined my feet, watched me walk barefoot, did some basic joint and range of motion testing, and then had me run on the treadmill both with and without my shoes. Here are some clips of the video analysis, along with summaries of Ryan’s assessment.

“From this view, we are looking for excessive movement of the foot ankle. The foot strikes on the outside border of mid-foot and pronates to neutral. Based on this shot, I would not recommend footwear change but to continue with using a lower drop shoe with reasonable stack height.”

“As the camera angle shoes, there is a mild hip drop that will need to be corrected with additional core training. I recommend gluteus medius strengthening exercises and will do a comparison in 2-3 months to see whether this has improved.”

“I’m seeing a tight gastroc/soleus (right more than left) limiting the calf muscle from storing maximal elastic energy and limiting the stretch reflex on toe off. This, along with tight hip flexors, leads to early toe off and increased vertical displacement. There is no quick fix to this problem, so recommend a combination of active release therapy (ART), massage, regular foam rolling, and the use of tune up balls to help release these areas.”

“If we compare the shots with and without shoes, we can see immediately that running barefoot promotes increased cadence and foot landing closer to centre of mass along with a decrease in vertical displacement. Once the period of pain has passed, I recommend small amounts of barefoot running and cadence work to help change a ‘hard wired’ pattern that will encourage more efficient running that can reduce the likelihood of re-injury.”

To my great relief, Ryan recommended that I not “rest” my injury but run regularly and slowly for no more than 10 minutes per day for approximately 2 weeks. As he explained, the idea of a short and slow daily run is to apply “gentle stress” to the injured area to accelerate healing and recovery. To complement a new routine of short and slow running, he advised:

  • Heat, local friction massage and foam rolling, at least once daily
  • Regular stretching and calf-raises to promote strengthening
  • Core exercises, such as power lunges, planking, and the monster walk, to address the “hip drop” problem

As the injury heals and the pain subsides, Ryan suggested I gradually increase the distance of my runs while following the same basic principles described above to help correct the biomechanical problems identified in the gait analysis.

I’ve been following this new injury recovery ritual for a little more than a month now. I started with a “reset” massage to flush out all of the major knots and kinks in my calves, IT band, and hip flexors. For the first 10 days, I ran only for 10-15 minutes at a painstakingly slow pace (plus a 20 minute walk warmup and cool down), and have been very gradually building on this distance ever since. With very few exceptions, I’m still running every day and my “long runs” are now at 12k at a pace roughly 1:15-1:30 per/km slower than I would have run in the past. I’m doing a pretty good job of consistently following the recommended daily core strengthening activities, but I know I could do better.

The key so far has been to establish and maintain new rituals. This means being deliberate and disciplined about scheduling my workouts in and around a very tight schedule. With 3 young kids and a busy day job, this often involves very early alarms and occasional late evening runs – while it’s hard to change into my gear at 10pm when I’d rather be drinking a glass of wine and watching TV, I know that I need to stick with the program.

The upshot of my new routine is that I haven’t felt the familiar anxiety of worrying about whether or when my injury will resurface. But I also haven’t tested myself with a speed or tempo workout either. Success in anything, particularly sport, takes discipline. I’m doing my best to stay focused on the short-term goal of avoiding re-injury, and with an eye on the longer-term goal of having a successful, healthy winter and a strong spring campaign.

The third and final part of this series will be a race report from the inaugural sold-out MEC Fall Classic on November 1. Stay tuned and please keep your fingers crossed for me that I’ll start and finish the race injury free!

2014 Oasis Zoo Run Report

September 23rd, 2014


After a two-year hiatus, I decided to return to the Oasis Zoo Run this year.

Short version: as always, it was a lot of fun.

The rest of the story:

Every time I have done this race, I have arrived ridiculously early and had a lot of time to kill. That doesn’t bother me – I would rather spend some time fogging up the car windows than be late – but it was always more time than we’d planned. This year, thanks to a few surprises on the 401 we cut it pretty close – as Steve joined the queue to park, I jumped out of the car and ran for kit pick up. Mercifully the start of the race was delayed by 15 minutes due to the traffic jam getting into the Zoo (we all left plenty of time – and used it all up in the highway delays), so I had time to hit the bathroom and still make it to my assigned corral. Whew!

Back when this race first began, you got to run past a LOT of animals, but the pathways were narrow and there was two-way traffic, so over time they have made changes to the course. The changes were even more drastic this year (and probably last year too) since the Giant Panda Experience is where the finish line used to be.


The benefits: less crowding (of course, the wave start helps with this too), more space.

The drawbacks: fewer animals – no fewer hills.

Anyway, I did the 10K, and with the new arrangement, the first three kilometres are outside the Zoo – the start line is in the parking lot, and the course loops the lot once before exiting onto Meadowvale Road (as it always has). From there it turns right, goes a fair distance down to a turnaround before coming back up, past the parking lot, around the back side of the Zoo, and into the grounds. We then ran down a path that used to be very near the end of the course, and after that, your guess is as good as mine. It was a lovely course, challenging with plenty of hills and turns (very exciting for the 10K Championships, I am sure!), and thankfully well-marked and marshalled, because I was completely disoriented in no time, and my Garmin map looks like a plate of spaghetti.

I did not go into this race with any real expectations (more on that later), but I have always run well here, despite the challenging course – and there is no understating the effects of confidence and counting on past performance predicting future outcomes. I decided not to aim for a specific time, but rather to run comfortably hard and see what happened. I did glance at my watch after the first kilometre, and thought “Whoa there!” at the pace, but I didn’t consciously change anything seeing as that first kilometre is flat and I knew the hills would force me to pull back.

That plan seemed to work well. I ran hard enough that it was a struggle to fight the urge to walk at the top of a couple of hills, but not so hard that it was ever a need rather than an urge. In fact, I think I found the perfect balance (go me!) in that I honestly felt like I could not have run any harder and was definitely spent by the end – but only just; I never felt like I had overdone it to the point where I might blow up.

Me chilling out after the race. Ha!

Me chilling out after the race. Ha!

The bonus: it was a PB! Only by 10 seconds, but to be honest, I have been haunted by my 10K PB for a long time because (a) it felt too fast for what I thought I was capable of when I set it, and (b) it wasn’t a certified course (and I didn’t have my GPS that day), so I have always had a niggling shred of doubt. Now I can claim it as MINE, ALL MINE! and let sleeping dogs lie.


Youth Movement

September 23rd, 2014

Focus on having fun will help children build a healthy enjoyment of running.

By Anna Lee Boschetto
Wondering if your child is ready to run an endurance race? Here’s a little healthy guidance from Run Canada to help you decide. Your child may be used to running on the soccer field, basketball court and playground, but when it comes to endurance running, going too far, too fast can do more harm than good.

While the consensus is that the minimum age for marathons is 18, requirements can vary for other endurance distances, including 10Ks and half- marathons. That’s why it’s so important for parents to understand the risks before allowing their children to register for an event.

“We know scientifically, a child’s body doesn’t adapt to heat as well as an adult’s body, so you have to be careful of heat stroke,” explains Kerry Copeland, coordinator for Kids Run Club, a school-based running program offered throughout Nova Scotia. Not only does a child’s body produce more heat than an adult’s, but it also absorbs more heat from the environment.
BE SAFE: Along with the time of year, check the time of day when the event will take place, and choose shorter distances during the hotter months.

For young girls specifically, the intense endurance training can result in the female athlete triad, which consists of disordered eating, amenorrhea (one or more missed menstrual periods) and osteoporosis. In addition, leanness— which is believed to ensure higher performance in endurance running— can be a factor in young female runners developing these conditions.
ENJOY THE RUN: Keep the focus on individual improvement and participation not on performance.

Elite runners heading to the 2014 #STWM

September 23rd, 2014

Canadian elite athletes Eric Gillis, Kip Kangogo, Lanni Marchant, Kim Doerksen and Kate Bazeley will be at the 2014 STWM in October.

By Duff McLaren
As fall approaches, it means that the marathon season is here. In particular, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) is attracting a huge contingent of fast runners on October 19, 2014, including a healthy contingent of Canadian runners. Alan Brookes, race director for the Canada Running series and the person responsible for bringing the top talent to Canada’s premier running event, held a media conference last week, introducing five of Canada’s running elite. Of course, the Running Groupie just had to go and have a photo taken with them.

As part of the press conference, Jon LoFranco of Athletics Canada also announced the A-standard for the PANAM games 2:18 for men and 2:40 for women (the 2015 Worlds is 2:15 for men and 2:35 for women).


It was an announcement that was met with surprise and joy for Kim Doerksen, a 23-year-old Burnaby British Columbia resident, who made her impressive marathon debut winning the 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon with a record of 2:36:59 and hopes to beat her personal best at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

iRun because I love it and get to eat what I want.—Kim Doerksen, Burnaby, B.C.

The announcement also tweaked the interest of Kate Bazeley, from St. John’s, Newfoundland an exciting new talent. Intent on scoring a personal best at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Bazeley is gunning to best her first marathon time of 2:40:49 which she claimed at the 2014 Houston Marathon.

iRun because of all the relationships and experiences.—Kate Bazeley, St. John’s, NL

Along with teasing her for being a lawyer, emcee Paul Ganes, introduced London Ontario’s Lanni Marchant, who placed 4th in the 2014 Commonwealth Games Marathon and smashed the 28-year Canadian National Women’s Marathon Record of 2:28:36, by 36 seconds at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Marchant will be one of the most highly anticipated competitors to see cross the finish line.

iRun because I love it (and agreed with Kim’s comment about eating).–Lanni Marchant, London, ON

Two-time Olympian, Eric Gillis of Guelph Ontario, hopes to break his personal best of 2:11:28 from the 2011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He is also “secretly” chasing Jerome Drayton’s record of 2:10:09

iRun because of the experience it gives you.–Eric Gillis, Guelph, ON

Flying in today from Lethbridge Alberta, Kip Kangogo, one of Canada’s top three 10 kilometer runners, aims to break his personal best of 2:15:35 from the 2013 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.

iRun because I love it.–Kip Kangogo, Lethbridge, AB

While I did ask where they planned to run in Toronto, there were no elite sightings this past weekend as they returned home to train.

Jim Willett’s Bruce Trail challenge completed!

September 23rd, 2014

Photo by Bob Hatcher

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, I’m saying it’s going to be worth it. #DigDeep

That was Jim Willett’s first tweet from the start of his most recent adventure. Willett, Cancer survivor and iRun’s September cover story, was on a mission: complete Ontario’s Bruce Trail from end-to-end in record time and raise money for Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) in response to Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Big Wild Challenge. And what a challenge it was. On the night of September 18, Willett finished in an incredible 10 days 13 hours 57 minutes.

“My mind is still buzzing. I’m hoping tonight I’ll be able to go to sleep without nonstop flashes of the trail in my mind,” Willett recounts the day after he finished. “I spent so many hours looking down at my feet, watching where I stepped, that I’d see it at night, too.

The last few days were the most challenging. I was pretty well on track of my goal, until 2 days to go. My plan on the second last day was to try and do the 80k/ day I’d been averaging, but then to run for another 3 or 4 hours after dark—with the support of 2 friends—and finish with 105-110k on the day. Then I’d have a shorter day of about 50k on the last day. All the hills before Hamilton, however, really slowed me down and my quads felt like cement.

By the time my friends got to me I’d only done about 60k. When we headed out into the night, I was feeling terrible. I was so tired I was falling a lot, and then I started throwing up. We managed to get another 13 or 14k in before I called it a night. But that also meant I needed to throw down a 90k day if I was going to finish on the 10th day.

With 75k to go, I took a nasty fall and strained my right achilles—among other bruises. I called my crew and they came back to the next available meet place. I had to decide if I was going to walk the rest and take an extra day to finish (quitting wasn’t an option). I sat down for a while, ate a sandwich, had some iced tea, asked them to tape me up, then sucked it up for the rest of the day.

Every step hurt, and I knew it was probably stupid, but I just wanted to finish! That was probably the defining moment of this whole thing for me.“

When asked about his most memorable moment, Jim replies, “There were so many beautiful amazing moments, I’m not sure if I could pick just one. The wildlife… the waterfalls… the landscape… oh my. And it was pretty badass when Cody Gillies came out to pace me one day, to help me break his Bruce Trail record. One more reason to love runners.”

Orangeville, ON’s Cody Gillies is the now former end-to-end record holder. Gillies set the record in October 2012, at the age of 22, in 12 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes.

iRun contributor and photographer, Bob Hatcher, was so inspired by Willett while photographing him for the cover story, he followed Willett in the chase vehicle through the last legs of the run and was there to meet him at the end:

Willett is not the only runner to complete the Bruce Trail from end-to-end in the last month. Rhonda-Marie Avery, a legally blind runner from Barrie, ON, took on the challenge in support of Achilles Canada, a non-profit organization that provides people with various disabilities an opportunity to run. Avery vividly and beautifully shares the experience of listening to the sounds of the trail with iRunNation in Envisioning the Bruce Trail.

Willett has contributed to iRun on a number of occasions in the past and the team at iRun is continually inspired by his journeys and positivity. You can donate to Willett’s Big Wild Challenge campaign or perhaps his story inspires you to start your own. You can also find Willett and his page The Optimism Revolution on Facebook.

The road to recovery: building a solid base

September 22nd, 2014


Steady 10 km on the treadmill in 44:02 (4:24/km), four months post femur fracture and surgery with just this little scar to show. The next day I did 10 km on the road in 42:58 (4:18/km).


Finishing up a treadmill run with a cool down walk.

September 2014—So, here’s my mileage by week (in kms) since I started shuffling in early July: 11, 38, 52, 48, 58, 61, 70, 70, 78, 30, and 71. Yep, a little recent set-back with the 30 km week due to a pain behind the left knee. Likely the transition to straight running with no walk breaks, increased road running, and a few higher intensity runs was a bit too much. But after a few days of only cross-training, all was well. I’ve had some decent runs, I know my body is capable of race pace, and I have plenty of time to continue building a strong base in preparation for a spring marathon. On August 31, I ran a steady 10 km at 4:18/km, four months post femur fracture and surgery. And on September 8, I handled 14 km at 4:17/km that included 2 km at 3:28/km. The numbers are encouraging, especially considering I was doing 300m intervals just a few months ago. I will continue to steadily increase the volume, maintain the strength work, and keep completing a few pool running sessions each week. The plan is to stay healthy and do a few rust busters in November/December with the goal of a solid and consistent effort. I haven’t weighed myself since July but am feeling leaner, am maintaining 12+ hrs/wk of cardio activities, am up to a 3-minute plank, and down to a 38 RHR. All good stuff. Getting there.

Life has been busy for Team DuChene as we’ve been transitioning from summer to back-to-school mode. Packing lunches, life at the hockey rink and swimming pool, earlier bedtimes, and fuller schedules can make September a tough month but I was ready and am glad to be back in a new routine. This year our oldest son can participate in x-country running and when asked, I agreed to help coach, which has been another fun adventure as Seth and Leah are able to join the team at practice. Also at the school, I helped with the Terry Fox Run and signed on for another year as “lunch mom”, which have been simple ways to give back.

Speaking of giving back, I was glad to participate in another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope in Brantford, which raised over $54,000 for this year, and over $2 million nationally.


Two running moms with their running girls: Tarah and McKayla Korir with Krista and Leah DuChene.


Mixed emotions as I donated our Chariot Cougar II running stroller for the Harvest Half silent auction. Kinda sad that this phase of life is over but thrilled that the money went toward the total of $10,000 raised for the Kenyan Kids Foundation.

Last, but certainly not least, was my involvement in the inaugural Run Waterloo Harvest Half with proceeds going toward the Kenyan Kids Foundation. I was honoured to be a guest speaker at the Friday evening pasta dinner and silent auction, which sold out. The races the following day—the half marathon, quarter marathon and kids’ fun run were a hit. We had some drizzly rain but that didn’t stop runners from hitting the hills on the gravel roads in Mennonite country where Wesley Korir has done much of his training while with Tarah and her family in St. Clements. Overall, we raised over $10,000, which will be put to good use in Cherengany, Kenya.

The next big event on the calendar is commentating the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with Tim Hutchings and Michael Doyle. I’ve quite enjoyed doing this and it is the next best thing to racing these big events. The Canadian field is looking real good and I’ve been doing my research so as to be prepared with a bit to say on most of our participating stars. Should be a great day!

Why do you run Canada Army Run? 2014 contest winner!

September 20th, 2014

Once again this year, we asked you to tell us, Why do you run Canada Army Run? We received several inspiring stories, and are pleased to announce this year’s winner, Pierre Guindon from Ile Perrot, QC. Guindon will be running the Canada Army Run with Sergeant Audrey Gravelle on Sunday, September 21, 2014.


PierreGuidonThis is story, a personal story that I hope will entertain, motivate and sensitize you to some important actions you should consider.

This story has many starting points, and the ending has not yet been written yet.

First, a bit of personal background. I started running in my late teens, early 20s. I completed many triathlons and 10K events. Like most, all stopped when I started a family. It wasn’t until many years later, when the boys were finishing grade school that I returned to an active lifestyle, in the process dropping a sizeable amount of weight.

I ran, swam and lifted. Then I caught the bug and the thought came: “If I train smart I could complete my first marathon, and who knows…maybe more.”

Over a one year period, using a proper plan, I clocked over 1859km with the 2013 Ottawa Marathon six weeks away.

On the morning of March 27th, my wife walked into our bedroom to find me laying on the floor clinically dead, no pulse, no breathing. She administered CPR while my youngest son dealt with 911. Presumably, it took the first responders many long minutes to get to me and paddle me — and once would not be enough. My body apparently, took a few swings at these men and collapsed. After the 2nd paddle session they thought it would be wise to restrain me for transport.

At the hospital they dumped my body in a bag filled with ice, this is meant to slow down oxygen depletion and cell decay and administered some anti-convulsion treatment. They prepared my wife for the worst. The fear was that too much damage had been done to the brain due to the lack of oxygen.

What doctors needed while I laid there in a bed of ice, was a sign of a working brain. I was still in restraints, with my wife, Sandra, holding my free hand. She pointed out to the doctor that I had a repetitive hand gesture, as if I was trying to spell with my fingers. It was presumed to be some autonomous twitch. Sandra placed the doctor’s pen in my hand and held his clip board. I scribbled like a two year old H2O. “He’s thirsty”! And suddenly I was en route to a second hospital for surgery.

Days later, following a quadruple by-pass, when the induced coma was was lifted I woke to the sound of my wife’s voice telling me everything was going to be OK. My first words to her where “will I run again?” Recovery was off to a quick start: relearning to walk over a few days. Putting on distance meant two laps of the hallway. The test allowing for me to go home was completing one flight of stairs. All was going very well very quickly.

One day, after a sizeable hospital lunch, I was getting comfortable, ready for a nap when a team of medical staff barged into my room with the crash cart.

“Are you OK”?, the staff asked. “Yes, try next door…I’m fine.” They moved me to a different room, closer to the nursing station. It was later explained to me that I had started fibrillating and was a prime candidate for sudden cardiac arrest. That night the nurse would sit outside my room facing in. The immediate goal had changed, I needed to be more stable for a second operation. I remember those long nights falling asleep staring at the monitor hoping for an event-free sleep. To this day, any day I wake up is a good day. A defibrillator was implanted in my chest and I was sent home after a few days later. I haven’t seen proper sleep in long, long time.

After I returned home, I started walking longer distances. Eventually walking and jogged on the treadmill. We’re not talking 10s and 1s but quite the reverse. After a few more months, I began to run more than I walked. Ottawa owed me a marathon, and I was fighting back. Less then a year later I completed my first half marathon, 2nd to last, the volunteers where gone and most of the setup was in the back of the trucks. Very humbling. Next up: Canada Army Run.

iRun the Canada Army Run, so we can all appreciate that whatever our challenges maybe we owe it to ourselves push forward.

iRun the Canada Army Run so others will say “I can too”.

iRun the Canada Army Run so I can say “I can too”.

iRun the Canada Army Run for my family for everything they have done for me.

I wake up, it’s a good day, I run it’s a great day. Completing the Canada Army Run will be an excellent day.

I read and googled a fair amount on my condition. Surprisingly, we are everywhere. Men, and surprisingly, so many women. There are a couple of things I would like to advocate if given the opportunity:

Better lifestyle choices:
Physical activity and proper nutrition can be a life saver. Those 1859 kilometres of training can help save your life, minimize the sequel and provide a better recovery. Off course we run, we are runners because we are compelled and somewhat addicted.

CPR training: it can make heroes and survivors. Given the amount of sudden cardiac arrest cases among children in organized sport, hands-on CPR training needs to be offered to secondary 4 and 5 students and staff at the municipal sport level.

I urge you to learn CPR, Hands only CPR it can save a life only takes minutes to learn might even help me finish my run some day.

iRun for youth mental health at Canada Army Run

September 20th, 2014

TerraceYouth-run group
Running for youth mental health, the young ladies from Terrace Youth Residential Services will be running Canada Army Run on Sunday, September 21. Photo and text by Lisa Georges.

After the first lap of the final training run, 13 year-old Alyssa stops and declares: “I’m not running on Sunday, I don’t want to go to the race.”

Alyssa is one of five young women from Terrace Youth Residential Services registered to run Canada Army Run on Sunday, along with three of the Centre’s assistants.

Every Wednesday, for the past 2 months, the group has been meeting at the Kanata Recreation Centre to run laps and take on the infamous ‘hill’. Alyssa has (possibly reluctantly) shown up for every training run. She’ll say she can’t run more lap, one more hill, and then…she charges at it. Her ‘I can’t’s and ‘don’t want to’s’ are believed to be a self-challenge of sorts. They allow her to prove to herself that she CAN — just like so many other runners on their journey to the finish line.

One of the largest treatment organizations in Ontario, Terrace Youth Residential Services (TYRS), was founded 16 years ago by Terri Storey, a leader in in the field of mental Health — and an avid runner herself. TYRS provides mental health and clinical services, education programs and respite care for children and youth and with complex mental health issues and their families.

“I always wanted to run a group home or be a teacher”, says Storey. “When I opened my first home, Taylor house, I was never nervous…it just seemed to be okay.”

“My parents were nervous because I had to sell my personal house to buy a house for the youth to live in. I just felt fearless” she laughs, “I have loved what I do since the first day I started working. I see no roadblocks in trying to get services for these youth.”

Storey takes this same dedicated approach when it comes to her own health. Running has been a constant in her life for the last 12 years. “Running is a way to get away from everything. It’s my mindfulness yoga for me. Everybody always says “I can’t run”, I always tell people: ‘Yes, you can’.”

Storey will be participating in the Canada Army Run Half Marathon on Sunday. “I picked the Army Run”, she says, “because it is a great race and it raises funds for direct services and I think military families require a lot of support and the awareness is lacking. Plus, I love this time of year! I love downtown! It feels awesome.”

iRun is fortunate to be a sponsor of Canada Army Run — an event that honours and pays deep respect to those that serve our great country. As such, iRun receives complimentary entries into the event. Last year, we trained and facilitated providing gear to a small group from Operation Come Home — an organization that works with at-risk and homeless youth. It was a rewarding initiative, and we decided to do it again this year. When we heard of Storey and her youth programs, we knew it was a great fit.

“I think running can help these youth build self-esteem, and feel like they can accomplish something. I like them to understand that by working at something you can get it done”, says Storey. “Running is not always easy but the reward at the end feels fantastic. I can never describe that feeling to anyone. They need to feel it. I know most of these youth have had difficult times and I want them to believe that with work and consistency they have the power to change their lives.”

And over the last few weeks, we’ve witnessed the positive attitudes and determination develop. Kelsey always runs with her insulin pack and she has consistently and steadily increased her mileage every week — in the final week running every lap without taking a walk break. “I did it,” she smiled breathlessly at the end.

“My parents are driving all the way from Toronto to see me run,” says Nicole with a proud smirk and her signature nod. Over the weeks, we’ve learned a little more about each participant — each has a unique story and a reason for showing up every week.

shoe fitting Active SportsOnce again this year, we reached out to Active Sports / Sports 4 owner, Jim Macfarlane for running shoes for the girls — who generously agreed to donate a pair of shoes to each participant. The helpful staff patiently took the time to evaluate and help the very excited young ladies select the right shoe, while they chirped about colours and comfort. “I’ve never owned a pair of REAL running shoes before!”, we overheard one of them reveal. A big thanks to Macfarlane and his staff for making these girls so happy — they all showed up at the next training session with renewed vigour.

Canada Army Run is an emotional and moving event — we’ve repeatedly reminded the girls that it’s a run, not a race. This Sunday, we’re expecting some nervousness and possibly some tears, maybe before and after, knowing that crossing the finish line to the cheering crowds in Ottawa will be an unforgettable and positive experience for this team of new runners.

As Avery gets in to the car at the end of that final training run, we tell her that we hope to see her on Sunday, “I’ll think about it,” she says with the tiniest, almost invisible smirk.

We’re pretty sure she’ll be there.

Couch to the Marathon, the Final Chapter: Rob Watson takes your questions head on

September 19th, 2014

Rob Watson

Photo by Robert Shaer

All week long we’ve been running Canadian marathon stars answers to your questions we received at EachCoach, the running page of the National Post. As mentioned, a celebrated American runner had promised to answer our reader’s questions but, when faced with the deluge, he pulled a DNF and left us in a bind. Enter the Canadian marathon heroes. Rather than see the questions go unanswered, we turned to our country’s greatest runners: Reid Coolsaet, Krista DuChene, Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson and Dylan Wykes. In fine form, and not afraid of hard work, each of the champion’s gave their response, and all this week, we’ve featured their expertise. It’s pretty cool how everyone came together to make sure that the elite runners of this country help out the middle of the pack folks who keep running popular. After all, without the masses, the sport, as a whole, declines (not to mention, winner’s purses, quality of races, etc.). So, with heavy heart, we bring this week’s series to a close. Yesterday, Krista DuChene, dietician, mother of three, iRun columnist, and second fastest female marathoner in Canadian history, took questions. Today, to close us out, Rob Watson, answers everything. His goal for 2014 is to run under 2:10 — the fastest marathon finish of a Canadian of all-time.

Akii asks: This past week I’ve been ill and unable to run, missing a planned 15k race last Saturday and leaving me very frustrated. How do you bounce back from a setback that interrupts your training? Do you go right back on schedule in terms of distance, intensity, etc., or do you ease back into it with some shorter, slower runs?

Rob replies: Hey. Unfortunately these things happen and there is nothing you can do to control it. Just stay positive, stay focused and realize that a few days off will have no long-term set backs. Just jog easy for a few days and get back on your training plan when the body feels 100% ready. You’ll be just fine!

Leona asks: I recently JUST qualified for the Boston Marathon by 1.5mins with a time of 3:33:33 in my first marathon. I realize that my time is SO close to the cut off that I might not be able to register for the Boston Marathon before it fills up. I am training for another qualifying race in October that I’m hoping to qualify by more than 1.5 minutes to secure a spot for next year. Do you have any pointers, or suggestions for a new runner that now has one marathon under her belt and is wondering what sort of strategy I should use for my second marathon?

Rob replies: Congrats! That is a great accomplishment. First and foremost take some time to breakdown your race. What things did you do well? What can you improve on? When you enter your next build keep these things in mind. Just finishing one marathon gives you so much valuable knowledge and experience. You know what to expect and you know how to approach things the 2nd time. I predict a big BQ next time out!

Marc asks: How far ahead do you plan your race calendar? Also, what is your next big goal race?

Rob replies: Race season is often planned a year in advance. That way you can structure training, periodization and peaking (and time off work). Next big race for Meb is the NYC Marathon.

Erika asks: I’m currently preparing for my first full marathon – my biggest concern right now is with nutrition. More specifically, I’m wondering how to properly fuel the week before, during the race, and afterwards to promote recovery. I want to ensure that my nutrition leading up to the race will help guarantee success.

Rob replies: That is an excellent question. Proper nutrition is very important! Everyone works differently. I suggest doing a lot of research online and using that to formulate a barebones outline. Then ya just gotta try it. Practice makes perfect. Practice what you are gonna eat before, during and after to make sure it works for you. Do not leave this until the last minute!
Basic notes; Carb load for 3 days leading up. 24hrs before keep it very simple. Carbs, carbs, carbs. During; Simple, easily absorbable carbs (gels, chews, find a flavour you can handle and stuck with it!) Body can handle about 60g/carbs an hour, any more than that you risk gut problems. Also make sure you are taking in fluids. After: Carbs to replenish, protein to rebuild, beer to celebrate.

Lori asks: I recently achieved my goal of qualifying for Boston :) Would it be a good idea to do more hill training than speed work for the Boston marathon, or train them equally?

Rob replies: Congrats! Hills, hills, hills. Both up and down! I found that it was not the uphill running that killed me. It was the pounding that my legs took on the long gradual downhill the 1st half. Do long intervals up & down! But at the same time you still have to work the speed. A proper training plan will have both these areas covered. But if I had to put more emphasis on one, I’d say hills/

Debbie asks: Due to recent travel and triathlon races of different distances I have not had a long run since mid-August in prep for my 21 km run taking place in two weeks. How should I balance training/tapering in order to be prepared?
Rob replies: Once you are 10 days out there is nothing you can really do to gain fitness. The hay is in the proverbial barn. Work on freshening up and being rested for the race. It may not be ideal, but hopefully you can pull from your reservoir of strength and aerobic fitness to get ya across that line. Good luck.

Karin asks: What are your three favourite exercises to do at the gym to improve your running efficiency and reduce the risk of injuries?

Rob replies: Planks. Love planks. Single leg squats & deadlifts. I don’t like to lift a lot. But these exercises engage the core and help with mobility, efficiency and injury prevention. Get swoll!

Claudia asks: What are your top three tips for recovery after long and/or hard runs ?

Rob replies: Nutrition: refuel and rebuild those muscles with real food! Carbs and protein in a 4/1 ratio post run is ideal. Also maintain adequate levels of hydration.
Rest: Get off your feet and relax, let all that work absorb. Sleep a lot! (as much as possible in this hectic life anyways)
Be smart: Listen to your body. Know when you may have to take an easy day or an off day. A fast race is the result of many, many days of work. Better to take one day and rest then to try and run through a wall and get hurt/burnt out.

Cate asks: What do you recommend to eat post run? I find that I get nauseated if I eat after running more than an hour but I also know the importance of re-fuelling after long runs. I am training for a half and now I am up to 18 km post runs are not any fun.

Rob replies: Everyone is different here. If you have a tough time handling solid food you can try a shake or smoothie? You want to try for a 4/1 carb to protein ratio. Find a delicious smoothie recipe that fits that criteria and give it a try.

Joseph asks: What distance should your last long run be before the Boston Marathon (presuming you are aiming for a 4:00 to 4:30 finish and your last long run is three week before the race)?

Rob replies: Three weeks out for my last long run I like to go 30km. focus on feeling smooth and relaxed, practice your race nutrition plan and enjoy. The hardest work is done, time to have fun!

Tim asks: Do you monitor your heart rate? I checked mine for the first time at my regular 3:45 pace and it was a steady 185. I’m 50 so 85% of max should be around 150. I would have to run at 6:00 k pace which is sooooo slow to me. What’s going on?

Rob replies: I think your heart rate monitor is broken.

Next issue: November 18, 2014
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