It’s official: Leslie Sexton is running the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Ahead of the race, her confidence is soaring after running between 200 and 210 kilometres in each of the past four weeks. That includes interval training. When she’s not out with her London Runners’ training mates, she works part time at a local running store and coaches. Under coach Steve Weiler’s watchful eye her own fitness continues to grow, which has her eagerly anticipating the marathon.
This excitement is fulled by the fact that she has bounced back from injury too. Sexton turned her ankle while trail running at the end of last year and had to take a chunk of time off in the wake of the injury.
“I was off for four months and didn’t start running until the start of April this year,” she says. “In terms of racing in the summer, part of it was just spending time getting fit again. The first one back was the Toronto Waterfront 10K in mid-June. That went fairly well. Then I did a couple of track races that weren’t as fast as I wanted.”
With the big race just six weeks away, she talks about the heroes – both fictional and real – that she looks up to with admiration. Sexton is a self-admitted Star Wars geek and those characters raise her spirits.
“I really like the character of Rey in ‘The Force Awakens’ because she’s got this real strength and independence,” Sexton says. “I sort of like to think of that sometimes when I’m out doing lots of miles on my own. I have a lot of fictional characters I like to think about. There are runners I look up to but I will think about Star Wars or something cool that Wonder Woman would do.”
What about those runners she mentions? Watching Emma Coburn of the U.S. strike 3,000m steeplechase gold in the recent World Championships, stirred her soul, she admits. She’s also a huge fan of American marathoner Desiree Linden.
“She was someone who had some talent but wasn’t a top high school or collegiate runner and has stuck with the same coach over time and had great results,” she explains. “I see her as a grinder. She does the work; she doesn’t complain and has been consistent year after year.”
Overcoming odds seems to be a theme that captivates Sexton. After her ankle injury, feeling strong again has been a big focus and she says her times and workouts are reflecting her improvement. She’s not just aiming to run a strong marathon, she wants to run her best-ever marathon.
“I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be going for a personal best in Toronto if things keep going well,” she says.
Her fastest time in the event currently stands at 2:33:23 which she set two years ago at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Sexton understands that she is amongst a fine group of Canadian women who are stepping on the heels of Olympians Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene. Going toe-to-toe with them in Toronto is all the more appealing especially since the race is a Canadian Championships.
“I love that the Canadian Championships are in Toronto,” says Sexton. “It’s a race I would do anyway whether it was here or not. But having that Canadian Championships and having a lot of good Canadians on the line makes it all the more special. It makes it a good competitive race. So, I want to be very much about running even and running a fast as possible time and hopefully the place will take care of itself.”
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is slotted to run on the morning of Oct. 22.