Some of the biggest names in Canadian running will be in Toronto on Sunday to race the Canadian 10K Championships as part of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 10K. This race will mark the first in-person race for Canada Running Series since the pandemic, which will double as the Athletics Canada 10K Championships in partnership with Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend and Athletics Canada. The race itself is a 10K loop along Toronto’s scenic Lakeshore Rd., starting at 8 a.m. E.T.
The race has attracted men’s and women’s Olympians and Canadian distance stars from across the country, who have their eyes firmly set on the top prize of $5,500 awarded to the winners of the men’s and women’s races. The stage is set for Sunday, and the weather predicts cool championship conditions.
The women’s race
In the women’s race, Canadian 8K record holder and Tokyo Olympian Natasha Wodak is the favourite and will be hoping to continue on her impressive form after finishing 13th in the Olympic marathon. Wodak has a personal best of 31:59, which is only 15 seconds shy of the national record set by her coach, Lynn Kanuka, in 1989. Wodak is familiar with the 10K distance, competing in four races throughout the past two years, with her best time of 32:31 from her win at 2019 Canadian 10K champs in Ottawa. It will be interesting to see how her post-Olympic build has been, leading up to this event.
Leslie Sexton, who is also in good form, will look to challenge Wodak. Sexton surprised many to win the Canadian 5K virtual championships in 15:37, smashing her previous 5K personal best by almost 30 seconds. Sexton recently moved to Vancouver from Ontario, training with the Vancouver Thunderbirds. Sexton has a 10K personal best of 33:17 from 2016, but should threaten the 33-minute barrier this weekend.
Another strong athlete to look out for is Scottish runner Sarah Inglis, who lives and trains in B.C. Inglis ran 25:35 for 8 km last weekend at the Royal Victoria 8K, setting a course record in the process. It is apparent that Inglis is ready to perform and is in PB shape. Inglis has the second-fastest 10K personal best in the women’s field behind Wodak, of 32:24. (She is not eligible for medals or prize money in Toronto, but she is looking forward to racing against this championship field.)
Don’t rule out is Vancouver’s Briana Scott, who was third at the 5K championships (15:59) and second at the 10,000m championships earlier this year (33:19). Scott trains and coaches with Mile2Marathon and is fairly new to the elite scene. She will look to continue her fantastic season with another championship podium finish.
The elite women’s race will get underway on Sunday at 8 a.m. E.T, with the projected winning time to be around 32 to 33 minutes. You can find the full women’s elite list, here.
The men’s race
The men’s race has 62 elites gunning for the podium. The man to beat will be Ontario’s Ben Flanagan, who has been a master on the road and trains with Reebok Boston Track Club in the U.S. Flanagan won the seven-mile (11.2 km) Falmouth Road Race a few weeks back in 32:16, going through 10K in 28:50. Based upon his performance on the hilly Falmouth course, Flanagan is the strongest athlete in the field on this flat course. He has had tough luck on the track over the summer, just missing out on an Olympic qualifying time for the 10,000m. Flanagan has always excelled on the roads, winning the 2018 Canadian 5K Championships in 13:57, and then bettered his time one year later at the B.A.A 5K in Boston (13:49). Although he has raced many 5K’s on the road and 10,000m races on the track, this Sunday will mark his 10K road debut.
There are three runners in the field who won’t make it easy for Flanagan. Let’s start with Canada’s top marathoner from the Olympics, Ben Preisner. Preisner runs smart and is a great tactical racer, but hasn’t dipped under 30 minutes on the road. He knows this course well, having won the 2019 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in 63:08. Preisner has a marathon best time of 2:10:17 from The Marathon Project in Chandler, Ariz. to qualify for the Olympics. At the Olympics, he was 46th and the first Canadian to finish (2:19:27). This 10K will be a quick turnaround for Preisner, who after the Games took some down time and moved from Ontario to B.C. to train with Richard Lee and the B.C. Endurance Project.
Tokyo Olympian and 2021 5K Championship winner Luc Bruchet will go head-to-head with his new teammate, Preisner. Bruchet qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the 5,000m only weeks before the qualification window closed. At the Games, he was 13th in his 5,000m heat in a time of 13:44. Bruchet has run 29:34 on the road but has a 10,000m PB of 28:17 on the track. You can’t look past Bruchet as one of the favourites, due to his top-end speed from his days as a miler.
Last but not least, the 10K is Mike Tate’s preferred distance. He is very familiar with his competition, having raced against Preisner and Flanagan on the track over 10,000m during his time at Southern Utah University. Tate won the Canadian 5,000m title earlier this year, running 14:15 in the pouring rain, beating other 10K elites Justin Kent and his Bandits teammate Connor Black.
The elite men’s race will get underway on Sunday at 8:13 a.m. E.T, with the projected winning time to be around 28 to 29 minutes. You can find the full men’s elite list, here.
Race day schedule
7:30 a.m. Broadcast begins on STWM.ca
8:00 a.m. Elite women’s race begins
8:13 a.m. Elite men’s race begins
8:32 a.m. Expected time of women’s winner
8:40 a.m. Expected time of men’s winner
9:00 a.m. Awards ceremony for top three women and men