Updated on Sunday, Oct. 22, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday morning was a massive pay day at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for defending champion Philemon Rono. Rono’s 2:06:51 marathon broke three significant marks on the course in the big Canadian city this morning: a personal best, a course record and the Canadian all-comers record. He’ll be flying home to Kenya now with an extra C $75,000 in the bank.
For international elites, toeing the start line means much more than updating the PB in the record books – running the marathon in Toronto means showing up for a huge pay day. It’s what they train for year-round.
The Kenyan athlete has now run the fastest marathon on Canadian ground having beat the previous mark by just three seconds. The previous all-comers record was 2:06:54 set by Yemane Tsegaye in 2014. Slicing just three seconds off that record means an extra $50,000 now for Rono who also was the champion at the Toronto race last year.
First place athletes in the men’s and women’s races win $25,000. The race awards another $40,000 for anyone who can set a new course record which previously stood at 2:07:05 for the men. Runners however can bump that number up to $50,000 if they also set an all-comers record.
This means that Rono has proved himself once again. Last year, he showed up in Toronto hungry for the win however moments before the start, a guard rail fell on his head temporarily knocking him out. He ran anyway and was first across the line running 2:08:27.
Rono’s nickname back home is rather obscure. They call him “Baby Police” as he’s a police officer with a youthful face. He ran strong in Toronto today with Kenya’s Dickson Chumba bring his major competition. It was a fast one from the get-go though and for those watching, it was clear that the Canadian all-comers record was in jeopardy. The lead pack of men went through 5K in 14:41, 10K in 29:29 and 21K in 1:02:38. In the final push, it was between Chumba and Rono but Rono was able to open up a gap and leave Chumba in the dust.
Still second and third place cash in on $15,000 and $8,000 respectively. Chumba finished second running 2:09:11 with Solomon Deksisa (Ethiopia) placing third in 2:11:27.
While Rono was clearly the man of the hour for anyone who was spectating the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon today, he wasn’t the only one celebrating victory at the IAAF Gold Label race today. Marta Megra of Ethiopia is a seasoned marathon runner and used to spending some time on the podium. The 26-year-old elite entered the race with a 2:24:32 PB to her name which she set in China last year. She was also competitive at Tokyp – one of the World Marathon Majors – having placed fifth in February.
The women’s race got off to a quick start although not as blazing-fast as the men’s. The lead pack split 33:17 at the 10K mark and went through the halfway point at 1:11:01. The course record stood at 2:22:43 (which also happens to be the Canadian soil record) and as the race played out in Toronto this morning, that mark did not seem to be at risk.
In the end, Megra clocked 2:28:20 for the gold medal and an average pace of 3:31 per kilometre. That’s the first time she has won a marathon of this caliber. It seemed to be a struggle in the final stretch for Megra as she did not seem nearly as enthusiastic as Rono. Behind her was Sutume Asefa who ran 2:2:26 and Sarah Jebet who placed third running 2:30:02.
The weather in Toronto today was unseasonably warm for late October: 12 C at the start line 16 C at the finish.
For full results, see here.