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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

Staying positive and enjoy the view along the way

July 29th, 2015

In between his endless adventures,  we finally managed to catch up with our #FindYourStrong athlete Jim Willet and found our more about his upcoming MEC Project, along with how you can support the cause. 

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iRun: Jim, it has been awhile! You ran a stage race in June. Can you tell us about the Desert R.A.T.S. Stage Race?

JW: It was a five stage, 143-mile race along the Kokopelli Trail in Colorado and Utah. The area is a high altitude desert, so as you’d expect it was hot! I ended up getting my first ever DNF after a navigational error caused me to miss a check point on day one. That was a very humbling experience and I was upset that I’d let people down. But regardless, I decided to run every stage and make the most of it. And I’m very glad I did because the terrain was amazing and the views were some of the most incredible I’ve ever witnessed in a race! I may not have received a medal but I feel like I gained much more.

iRun:  What does a typical week of running look like for you?

JW: I’m pretty unconventional in my training, but I probably run six days a week on average. I‘m a big believer of listening to my body to dictate my mileage so it can vary quite a bit from week to week.

 
iRun: Can you give us an update on your plan to raise awareness and funds in support the health of Lake Simcoe?

JW: On August 8th, I’ll be running around Lake Simcoe. The plan is to start and finish at the waterfront in Barrie, Ontario. It’s about a 200 km trip around the Lake. I’m running as part of The MEC Homewaters Project, which, is a campaign to raise funds for the Canadian Freshwater Alliance. Every time you tag a photo with #myhomewaters on instagram, they’ll donate $5, up to $20,000.

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iRun: You are a positive guy you share positive messages on social media, reminding us to look for the positives in any situation. How can we better shape our thinking to use it as a tool to help us grind through tough races and training runs?

JW: I think it works both ways. Running helps shape our thinking to become stronger in our everyday lives. Your mind set changes when you train it to change in the same way our running changes and improves when we put in the training to complete our goals. Bottom line, if you want find the positives in any situation you have to look for them. And it becomes easier the more you do it.

Looking for more motivation? Read additional #FindYourStrong stories here.

Triple Threat: JP Bedard’s keeping the momentum going strong

July 29th, 2015

Jean-Paul Bedard is training hard for this triple marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. We caught up with Bedard to find exactly how he runs on tired legs, his plan for race day and how others can show their support for #BeenRapedNeverReported. 

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iRun: Jean Paul we know you put a lot of kilometres in  a week How many kilometers did you log last week and what are you looking at as a total this week?

Jean-Paul Bedard: I’m hitting the high mileage block of my training right now, so last week I ran over 200 km, and this week should be around the same, or a little bit more.

iRun: You have been running for a long time. When did you run your first marathon and where was it?

JP: I started running shortly after I entered a treatment program to address my drug ands alcohol addiction. My first marathon was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and I had the honour of running it with two other gentlemen I met in the treatment program. I can still remember the hellish last 10 km of that first marathon, and how I was literally in a run against the clock, desperate to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I ended up crossing the line at 3:11, and the Boston qualifying standard for my age group was 3:15! I qualified for Boston in my first race. I’ve been back to Boston 10 times now, and I’m heading back again in 2016 too.

iRun: How do you determine how far you will run each day? Do follow a plan?

JP: Having run over a 100 marathons and ultras, I don’t really follow a plan. I run for 2 hours a day Monday to Friday, and Sunday is my long run, and that usually ranges between 36 km and 55 km. I try to incorporate a hill run (but not repeats) and a tempo run at race pace, once per week.

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iRun: Your upcoming, triple Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is less than three months away. How do you prepare your body to run 126.6 kilometers?

JP: It’s all about time on my feet and learning to run on very tired legs. I make sure I go out for a 23 km run the morning after my Sunday long run of 50 km. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary to train my brain to shut off and run through the discomfort.  Leading up to the triple marathon in Toronto, I’ll be running the Rochester Marathon in September, The Toad 50k, and then the Bank of America Chicago Marathon the week before my triple in Toronto. It sounds a little insane, but 42.2km is a taper run for a 126.6 km race.

iRun: Can you share with us the plan for your triple marathon?

JP: I plan to head out around midnight and run 2 of the marathons before the official marathon, which will be my third of the day. I’ll be aiming to keep the runs fairly conservative, so I’m hoping for 4:30 for each of the first 2 marathons. The third one will be about survival and having fun on the course. I’m totally looking for people to join me for as many km as they want. I’ll be posting a schedule with the approximate times for my arrival at designated spots along the marathon course. I’ve already got some people who are coming along for the fun. My wife will be following in a support vehicle for the first two marathons, so if anyone needs to bail out, they can hop in the car!

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iRun: You are running to draw awareness to sexual abuse and sexual violence with the campaign hashtag, #BeenRapedNeverReported. Is there an official hashtag for your triple marathon?

JP: This triple is all about raising awareness for survivors of sexual assault and to show the community how resilient we are. I decided not to raise money for this run because I wanted to keep my focus on continuing the momentum of the dialogue around sexual assault that appears to have picked up a little steam lately. The other hashtags people can use are #ItsNeverOkay and #STWMx3. If you’re reading this, I would really appreciate you firing off an email to me to show support. It’s people like you who help people like me get through the tough times, not only in running but also in coming to terms with being a survivor of sexual assault.

Want to join Jean-Paul or even come along side on a bike to keep him company?Send him an email for more information on how you can get involved.

Looking for more motivation? Read additional #FindYourStrong stories here.

Choking on The Social and Speed Work in the Heat

July 28th, 2015

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By Ben Kaplan

I was in Greece for two weeks with my two children and came back on a Monday evening, then made my grand TV appearance Wednesday morning. I ran a few times in Greece, specifically, on a beach two hours south from Thessaloniki, and I felt good. I’d never really spent so much time with the children, from when they got me up to when they let me put them down, and all in all I was feeling really happy. (Greece, by the way, didn’t seem nearly as effected by their economic calamity as the international press makes them out to be, for better or worse). The running was good. I was fit. No booze. No cigarettes. And, while there were no long runs or speed work, I was conditioning, and feeling fine.

When I got back, my wife and kids stayed on for another week, and I fell into a few nights of sleeplessness. I was nervous about doing The Social, sure, and also thinking about work, and trying to wrap my head around a strong finish to summer and a grand beginning for fall.

I looked kind of geeky on the show. I didn’t tank exactly. I said that you should change shoes at six months or 400 miles and mentioned that most people are fine in neutral shoes. I wore my favourite bright clothing and smiled a lot, like a nerd. I forgot to mention our website, which featured a playlist I designed on RDIO for my visit, and didn’t promote my book, our new issue or anything pertaining to things that might help my summer finish strongly and pave my way toward an excellent fall.

I just wasn’t as sharp as humanly possible, and, since then, I’m happy to report that, while I’m still not exactly Pinhead from Hellraiser, I’m getting better. The solution? Readers of this will know already: I got back into my running and let the pressure roll off my shoulders like so many beads of sweat. There’s about two months to go before many of the big fall races and now, while the weather heats up, it’s time to really get into my running. Last night the family came back from their trip and the whole house was basically up between midnight and six. I still got out there today for my run and feel all the better for it. It’s good to push. Good to be engaged. Good to have a goal and to fight for it. Blame old age, but my back was hurting this morning. Am I really so old that lifting the kids makes my back sore? Out on the run, however, the back felt fine and even though I was melting and exhausted, I pushed through. I imagined myself on race day.

Next week, we’re going to launch our training programs with Sport Chek for the 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. This week, I’m running 10K on Wednesday and Thursday and 21K on Friday. Weekends are tough for me, but if I can squeeze in one 10K, that’d be great. I start speed week again next Wednesday and will continue chewing up the kilometres in pursuit of breaking three hours at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon—and in case The Social ever asks me on again.

Here’s the playlist I made for the appearance and forgot to promote. It’s based on my book, Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, in which I asked musicians for their favourite running songs. So here’s first a song by the musician who appears in the book, and then the song they chose to run to. Enjoy!

Team spirit and national pride prevails at the Men’s Marathon

July 26th, 2015

By Michelle Clarke

Up early on Saturday for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Men’s Marathon, I headed to the hills at High Park, looking forward to seeing one of my favourite distance runners, Rob Watson.  Having run Centre Road many times, I had compassion for what runners were up against combined with the weather which was not in their favour. Canadian Kip Kangogo, was quick to mention how tough this course actually was. “Those hills get the best of you, going up those hills 4 times is not fun.”

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Kangogo has only been a citizen of Canada since early April of this year. He was born and raised in Kenya, and has lived in Lethbridge, Albert since 2001. Watching the first two laps of the race and seeing Kip looking so strong in 4th place, everyone in High Park (myself included) wanted him to win. He wanted, “something spectacular.”

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While, fan favourite, Watson, one of the bigger guys in the field, didn’t look comfortable going into lap two the spectators erupted when he showed up. “No matter how much my legs were hurting, it was uplifting and really cool [hearing everyone cheer]. I appreciated that, they knew I wasn’t having a good day and they didn’t care. They were just there to support me,” said Watson. 

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The women last weekend talked about the challenging marathon course, and the men had to face those same challenges on Saturday. The fastest man in the field and the favourite to win, Raul Pacheco from Peru, led for much of the race. To everyone’s surprise, Cuban, Richer Perez kicked in the last 400M stretch and took the win in a time of 2:17:04. Perez is virtually an unknown on the international marathon circuit, but Saturday he definitely put himself on the map with his personal best performance.

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Kangogo held onto the leader for most of the race, “I was with them in the front and feeling good then after 30km I started losing ground, the heat got the best of me,” he explains of his ninth place finish.

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His spirits were bruised but definitely not broken. “I made a promise I wanted to run for Canada one day, and that day was today so my dream was fulfilled. I wear the Canadian flag with pride and I ran with pride, I just fell short.” Kangogo replied.

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I was most impressed with both Kangogo’s and Watson’s team spirit. With his quirky humour, Watson’s humble nature is inspiring. “I knew it wasn’t my day, but there were so many people out here, they woke up early to come support me run, that I wouldn’t have dropped out.” Dud did he think about quitting on the course? “[The marathon is] an individual event but we are part of a team, part of the marathon team, part of the Athletics Canada team and just part of Team Canada,” he explained.

Up next for this team? Watson is aiming for his Olympic qualifying time in Chicago, while Kangogo takes some recovery and plans out where he needs to focus his race efforts.  As always, Watson summed up the experiences well, “It was a tough day at the office but its one I will remember for a long time.”

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Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner, coach and blogger sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

Canadian mid-distance runners strong and proud

July 26th, 2015

By Michelle Clarke

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As one of the women’s last middle distance races of the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games, the crowds at the Women’s 1,500M eventTow  were erupting. With two very strong Canadian medal contenders, both with the fastest personal best and season best times, it may have appeared an easy win.

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The competition proved a little better than expected. From the start,t the runners did not seem to want to work together, instead taking a single formation strategy for much of the race. Columbia’s Muriel Coneo and American Corey McGee took the lead for the first half of the race, leaving Canada’s Nicole Sifuentes and Sasha Gollish in third and fourth. According to Sifuentes, the race strategy Coneo started to execute was exactly the strategy she was aiming to do.

Both going out with the same tactic, made for a very exciting, almost photo finish.  “There was nothing more I could’ve done,” said Sifuentes. “I did my very best, she was just did better today.”

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Coneo had taken gold with a personal best of 4:09:05. “When the other girl approached me at the 200s I said ‘this is do or die’, said Coneo, “In my mind I was thinking ‘I need to pass her no matter what’. Then I closed my eyes and said to myself  ‘Oh God please this is mine’ and that’s when I gave my extra.”

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Gollish crossed the finish line with bronze, taking over McGee in the bell lap. Gollish has run better times, but having a shoe malfunction, she ran th majority of the race with one shoe half off of her foot. She demonstrated a never quit attitude at her first ever PanAm games.

As Sifuentes talked to us after the race, she was in near tears of joy, happy to be able to actually get to stand on the podium for the first time. Even though she had gotten bronze at World indoor championships in Poland, running a Canadian record of 4:07.61.It was a medal promotion, since it was later discovered third place was disqualified. The disqualified athlete got to experience Sifuentes medal and podium moment.

Today Sifuentes earned every second of her silver medal. “I’ve never held the Canadian flag before, so this is going to be really special,” she said through tears.

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Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner, coach and blogger sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

Taking it all in silver Brannen’s confident in his quest for gold

July 25th, 2015

By Michelle Clarke (Photo Credits: Ida Valentina)

The Toronto 2015 PanAm Games are winding down, however the crowds keep getting bigger and louder and the atmosphere for the Men’s 1,5000M was no different.

Canada’s Nathan Brannen , an accomplished track runner went out hoping for gold.  During the initial laps, the men were not taking any risks, staying tightly packed together and as some had referenced, maintaining a pedestrian pace.

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In fact, it started to get a little too tight for Brannen, who ended up where no track athlete wants to be: boxed in on the inside lane. Watching him, it was clear he was working hard to get out of his position and into a better spot where he could stay in medal contention. And he altered confirmed that, “it’s bittersweet, I think I could’ve won it if I was in a better position.”

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With two laps left Brannen took a bit of a surge and as the pack rounded down into the bell lap the chase was on. The United State’s Andrew Wheating and Brannen kicked the last 100M fighting for gold. With just metres to go Brannen, up against the American, showed his true grit. With Andrew Wheating’s ridiculously long legs, it would take so much effort to catch up with his stride and Wheating crossed the line, for gold 3:41.41, with Brannen claiming  silver

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With his all or nothing attitude, from my vantage point I could see Brannen was determined despite recovering from an injury. “I missed five months with an Achilles tear in the fall,” he explains, “Although 3:35 is an indicator that I’m getting there, by no means am I at 100%.”

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As was evident in the 1,500M race, he’s still missing a bit of the top end speed, but he’s confident he’ll get it together in the next couple of weeks.

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So how does he deal with race day nerves? And what goes through his head waiting for the gun to go off? “The same thing that someone taking on a couch to 5km on their first ever 5km is feeling, I’m feeling the same thing,” say Brannen.“When they’re lining up, wondering, ‘Am I ready?’ the best of the best are thinking the same thing.” It’s been more than 15 years since his first national race as a junior, which goes to show, whoever you are, wherever you place, just by being out there and doing it, you’re closer to the elites than you think.

Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner, coach and blogger sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

 

Marchant gaining confidence on the track

July 24th, 2015

Even with the Men’s 800M final, Women’s 10,000M final and the 1,500M finale to the decathlon, most of Thursday’s athletic  schedule was preliminary races.

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Pan PanAm organizers have done an amazing job for the media, making it very easy for us to get around. I transitioned into my reporter role on a bus on my way to York University. I was determined to see some of the women’s 10,000M race, with Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak.

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With one mile left in the race, I was watching the stream, listening to the audio and sprinting to the stadium so I could see the finish live in person. As I ran to the reporter’s section, I got to see the last few minutes of what turned out to be a great race. Unlike the men’s race the day before, this one didn’t start too quickly, the women stuck together for much of the race and runners weren’t messing around with surges.

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It wasn’t until the last eight laps that things started to heat up. The two Americans, Desiree Davila and Liz Costello decided to make a move and picked up the pace and open the gap. There was some question if Marchant was going to go with them or not, but she soon made her move and closed in on the leaders followed by Mexican Brenda Flores. Wodak by this time was showing signs of struggle and was not holding onto the pace.

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With just two laps to go, Marchant made gutsy move and took the lead, but didn’t look like she was going to hold it. The bell rang, the stadium was on their feet and Flores and Davila took off pulling away from Marchant. Battling it out with two very strong kicks, Flores took the gold medal for Mexico in personal best time of 32:41, Davila took silver and Marchant held on to her bronze medal position with 32:46.

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As the Canadian marathon record holder, Marchant says she feels like she is getting a crash course in track and field, where she is learning about speed, finding her gears and pacing. It just goes to show you that even when you’re at the top of your game, there is always more to learn. “I kind of avoided [track] since university. I’m getting more confident with the  [10,000m] event and that’s the goal for Worlds,” says Marchant. 

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Canadian 10,000M record holder, Wodak, placed 7th, with a time of 33:20. Earlier this year she broke Canadian record with a time of 31:44, crying as shed cam through the media area, it was clear that it just wasn’t her day.

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En route to celebrating her bronze medal finish, I asked Marchant what advice she had for young girls. “I wasn’t someone earmarked to be really good with track and field and marathoning; I stuck with it,” explains Marchant. “There needs to be more of a push for young girls whatever sport it is. Sport opened so many doors for me. You don’t have to be the best, pick your sport and go for it.”  I couldn’t agree more. Stick with it girls, the rewards are far greater than your personal best on race day.

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Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner, coach and blogger sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

Canadian Andre de Grasse pushes through for gold

July 23rd, 2015

By Michelle Clarke

On your mark, and the stadium went silent for the men’s100M  semi-final tension where Canadian Andre de Grasse was a fan favourite. The gun went and 9.97 seconds later De Grasse had taken first place securing his place in the 100M final. With only a few hours to rest up for the next race de Grasse said, “I’m feeling pretty good. I just have to get ready for the finals, get some treatment, and try and win the gold for Canada.”

pic1.5With a couple of hours until his next race, I was thinking about the pressure de Grasse must be under. Even after three years of racing, this year in Eugene, Oregon where he set an unofficial (wind assisted) Canadian record, the field had no idea who this guy was. From Markham, Ontario, de Grasse was discovered at a track meet where he showed up in a pair of basketball shorts. That was the turning point in his life. Since then he has officially set the Canadian record in the 200M at the NCAA Pac-12 Conference Championships de Grasse crushed the 200M with a time of 20.03, beating the previous record held by Aaron Brown at 20.16.

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With the final event ready to start, the eight men took to their lanes for the last and final introductions. Something fun about the sprint races is how all the athletes have their own camera show, much like a UFC fighter, except not nearly as aggressive. When de Grasse was announced the crowd went wild and as the runners took their positions in the blocks, the stadium was on their feet.

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With the sprints, it’s a bit of a blur of action. The race started, in 10 seconds it was over and you couldn’t even hear the announcer over the screams. de Grasse pushed and lunged forward just as he’d practiced over and over again taking first in a time of 10.05.

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Looking both tired and elated de Grasse came over to chat with the media after the medal ceremony. Not only did de Grasse grab another gold medal for Canada, but it was also surprising to hear this event wasn’t even the main goal! “My coach has loaded me up for the 2015 Pan Am Games since the main focus is the world. This is kind of a train through meet the, 100m and 200m to try to start back from the beginning of the season to get back another peak for the World Championships,” he said.

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de Grasse still has a 200M race to focus on in the coming days. Even though his handlers didn’t want him to stop, he couldn’t help himself; he started high fiving and fist pumping everyone around me. Needless to say, I couldn’t let the moment pass and he graciously let me take a selfie with him. Briefly mentioning a documentary that was filmed about his athletic journey, there’s no question that he’s bound for greatness, stay tuned; it will surely be an amazing story.

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Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner, coach and blogger sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

Wells proves you must believe to succeed

July 23rd, 2015

By Michelle Clarke

pic 1-2  Canada’s Sarah Wells and the women’s field took to their lanes for the 400M hurdles and I had a special interest in this race.  As the women got settled into the starting blocks, this was a strong field of highly accomplished athletes.

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These short distances are so fast and frantic that nothing can be predicted, and no one can be counted out until the very end. American Shamier Little gracefully glided over the hurdles, racing smart and strong. She had the gold. But with 100M left to go there was a surge from the entire field and Wells who was in fourth for much of the race, blasted forward pushing herself so hard and taking the silver in 56.17 seconds.

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Wells is a very down to earth athlete. At the beginning of the race, she showed her hands to the camera where she had I BELIEVE in marker on her palms. Since this is something a friend and I have done for our harder races, I couldn’t wait to talk to her about this pre-race ritual. Athletes need reminders for those moments where we might doubt ourselves. Wells says her hand written note is actually her motto. “It has been part of who I’ve been an athlete,” she explains. “I knew on the line today I had potential to come home with a medal and I had to write that on my hand to remind myself and show the world so they held me accountable that I was going to do this today.”

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Even more impressive, Sarah has had two tough years. A stress fracture putting her down for a season and then the very same injury almost taking her out of the PanAm competition. As a running blogger, coach and athlete I have always preached that runners should never run through injury, especially a stress fracture. At the highest level of competition, when you have your heart set on a medal and the Olympics, how much are you willing to risk?

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Wells had so much to gain and yet so much to lose so I had to know, why did she do it? People, do not try this at home, Wells has a team of doctors guiding her through training and competition. Here’s a glimpse into what an athlete is willing to override to achieve their ultimate goal.

“I had to sit out last season because of this injury. So when I found out that I had the early signs of it again, I just couldn’t imagine shutting my season down. I asked and pleaded with the doctor to let me run at least until the Pan Am Games because running at home is something that happens so rarely. I wanted this experience and I wasn’t going to let that injury take it from me. I’ve been fortunate but I’m going to have to take a lot of time off now heading into the Olympic year. I’m not making it easy on myself, but it’s been worth it for this day.” -Sarah Wells

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Wells is the kind of athlete that any young woman should follow.  She has lived the ups and downs of training the red line. She’s determined and most importantly, she truly believes in herself and her coaching. Watching Wells walk away, I got the sense, it’s not a question of will she medal in the Olympics but a question of when.

Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

Canadians on track at Pan Am Games

July 22nd, 2015

By Michelle Clarke

As a fan of track and field, the 10,000M can be an almost uneventful race until after the halfway mark. Tonight at the York University stadium, the Brazilian Ubiratan Dos Santos kept me, and the pack of men behind him, on our toes.
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Surging (aka fartleking) is often used on the track as a way to push other runners, ultimately tiring their legs. Dos Santos used this technique on nearly every lap. He continued to surge out of the pack creating a gap and rather than let the pack catch him, he would fade back into it.
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It didn’t take too many laps for the lead pack to break away from the rest of the field and turn this event into a six-man race. With Dos Santos out in front for more than half the race, the other five men stayed on pace, making it hard to determine who was going to have the final kick in the end.
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As I sat in the stands, thinking Dos Santos was not getting the gold medal, instead he ended up DNFing in the final lap. The erratic racing wasn’t going to bode well for a first place finish with such a strong field behind him. Who was going take the gold? From my vantage point it was either the Barrios from Mexico or Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed. They both ran an incredibly smart race.
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With two laps to go, the six men formed a tightly knit packed. All together they started to pick up the pace and the crowds went from cheers to roars, pushing all the racers to the bell lap.
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As the bell rang on the final lap, the pack separated and the sprint was on: Canada, Mexico, Brazil, U.S.A., Canada. Runners rallied only a short time then, with 200M to go, Ahmed kicked. Completing ripping away from the others he crossed the finish line at 28:49 claiming gold.
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I caught up with Ahmed after the race, with a sense of accomplishment in his eyes, I asked him about his strategy and when he knew to take the break away. “I was listening for breathing and looking around for who took what laps,” explains Ahmed. “There was a really strong wind off the back end and I knew all I needed to do was take the last 250m and hammer it home.” 
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The athletic events were dominated by the Canadians both infield and on the track. Matt Hughes and teammate Alexandre Genest took gold and silver for the men’s 3000M steeplechase. Hughes finished the race with a time of 8:32:18, with Genest following, one second behind. “We had a couple of game plans depending on how the race played out,” shared Hughes. “It just started bunching up with three laps to go. I just didn’t want to get caught up with that. I made a similar move in the national championships a few weeks ago, so I was confident in that move. I was hoping that (Alexandre) knew when I was going to go.”
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Rounding out the evening, the women’s 100M hurdle finals was an intense 12.52 seconds. The entire stadium was silent, as the gun went off and in one, two, three blinks, Queen Harrison, and Tenaya Jones crossed the finish line claiming gold and silver for the USA with Canadian hurdler,  Nikkita Holder taking bronze, who like me, admits that she doesn’t remember much of the race. But what I do remember is the smile was on her face as she took her victory lap with the Canadian Flag.
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Since this was just the beginning of the track and field athletic events, there is sure to be more of heart pounding excitement, lost of hardware and definitely more personal bests as the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games continues!

Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter @runningchic and on Instagram @michelletherunner.

Next issue: July 30, 2015
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