at the races The Rise of Women’s Racing in Canada – Rachel Cliff’s new Canadian...

The Rise of Women’s Racing in Canada – Rachel Cliff’s new Canadian record


While many of us were asleep or heading to bed last night, Rachel Cliff was out pounding the streets over in Japan at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon. A rising star over the last few years, this is the second record Cliff has broken in the last 14 months. Finishing in 2:26:56, the smile on Rachel’s face tells the whole story.

Deservingly, Cliff has received many congratulatory messages via social over the last day celebrating her success. From former Athletics Canada Head Coach, Peter Eriksson, to Canada Running Series’ Alan Brookes, race organizer extraordinaire, Canada’s circle of elite runners—and many others—everyone was super happy to see Cliff run so strong to break this record.

Until recently Cliff may have been seen as the underdog, but make no mistake this woman has been working hard for as long as I have known her. Couple that with her kindness, plus her intellectual prowess, she is a role model that all women, young and old alike, can relate to and look up to.

Previously the women’s marathon record (2:28:00) was held by Lanni Marchant, another decorated distance runner in Canada. Marchant has been battling injuries since 2017, but is expected to make a return this summer; expect her to be a top contender in the marathon heading in the trials for Tokyo. Marchant is one valiant competitor and one of the fiercest women out there.

Cliff is not the only one to break a record in the early days of 2019. Back in January I wrote about Gabriela DeBues-Stafford breaking the indoor 5000m record (14:57), and a few weeks after that she smashed the indoor mile record (4:24.80). Both Madeleine Kelly and Jenna Westaway dipped under Diane Cummin’s indoor 1000m record; since Jenna was ahead of Maddy she will be listed as your record holder. Westaway went on a week later to break Melissa Bishop’s indoor 800m record, and is the first woman to dip under the 2 minute barrier in Canada: running 1:59.87. I almost forgot, Jess O’Connell broke the indoor 3000m record the week before she was 2nd at the NACAC 10k X-Country Championships over in Trinidad.

There must be something in the water with all these records going down. It starts with a new rise of great coaching in this country. In addition, I attest the rise of women’s running in Canada to the close knit community. We women here love and support each other. We work together, we celebrate each other’s success, and when we do that, we all rise up.

Sasha Gollish won a gold medal in the half-marathon at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, a bronze medal in the 1500m at the 2015 Pan American Games, and gold medals at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in the 800m, 1,500m, and 5,000m events. She is an elite runner and senior writer at iRun