On a warm morning at the 2023 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon, Lee Wesselius of River Glade, N.B., and Malindi Elmore of Kelowna, B.C., took home top Canadian honours in the marathon. Wesselius battled the conditions and used his experience, crossing the finish line in 2:18:26 for 14th overall, while Elmore ran a gritty back half to finish second overall in 2:27:45.
Chasing the Olympic standard
Elmore went into the race with the goal of the 2024 Olympic standard of 2:26:50. She was on pace for 2:26 through 30K and sat in fourth position. As the temperature warmed up to 24 C around 9 a.m., she gave everything she had over the final 12 kilometres, moving up two spots, finishing second to Ethiopia’s Waganesh Mekasha in 2:27:45. She only missed the 2024 Olympic standard by 55 seconds.
“Today, it felt like the race started at 30K,” says Elmore. “I just kept telling myself to try and pull in the people in front. You have to take the marathon as it comes.”
Elmore was paced by Kingston’s Kevin Coffey, who also paced her when she won the Canadian marathon championships in Toronto last fall. She passed Germany’s Melat Kejeta with less than 500m to go–Kejeta was third in 2:27:52. Kejeta and Elmore had top 10 finishes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon, with Kejeta, sixth, and Elmore placing ninth.
“I want to be on the Olympic team in Paris, and that was the goal today,” says Elmore. “The conditions made the course tough, and I have to be happy with my performance.”
Ottawa’s Alexandra Hynes was the second Canadian finisher in 2:46:42, and Melanie DesAutels of Sherbrooke, Que. was third in 2:49:23.
Wesselius bounces back
Last month, Wesselius had no intentions of racing the 2023 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon, but a tough day at the Vienna Marathon on April 23 provoked him to give the distance another shot. Luckily, he didn’t have to travel too far, currently residing in Mountain, Ont., an hour south of Ottawa. The marathon gave him a chance to run in front of friends, and he owned the opportunity, finishing as the top Canadian in 2:18:26.
Wesselius went out with a large group of American, Canadian and Japanese runners until 25K, but then things started to break apart. The 29-year-old worked with his training partner Blair Morgan of Ottawa until 30K, surging ahead to take top Canadian honours. “The last 5K felt like survival mode,” Wesselius laughs. “It was amazing to have a large group early on and work with Blair.”
Blair Morgan was the 🥈 Canadian man today in Ottawa!
Dipping under the 2:20 barrier in 2:19:50 in front of his friends and family!
— Canadian Running (@CanadianRunning) May 28, 2023
Heading into the race, Morgan was shooting for a sub-2:18 result, but he achieved his B-goal of breaking 2:20 in the conditions. Despite residing in Ottawa for years, this was Morgan’s first time participating in the city’s marathon. “I’ve been doing workouts on the roads here all spring, so it was awesome to have everything come to fruition in front of my friends and family,” says Morgan. “Given today’s conditions, I think I executed well and ran smart.”
Another runner residing in the Ottawa area, Pembroke’s Greg Pigeon, rounded out the Canadian podium at the 2023 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon, finishing as the third Canadian male in 2:31:32.
Ethiopia’s Yihunilign Adane won his second consecutive marathon on Canadian soil, taking the win Sunday in 2:08:22. Adane’s compatriot, Gebrestsadik Abraha, finished second in 2:09:13. Abdi Ali Gelchu, also of Ethiopia, finished third in 2:10:38, after finishing second in this race last year on his first trip to race in Canada.
You can view the full results from the 2023 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon here.