Philemon Rono of Kenya has won the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon twice–the first time in 2016, and the second time in 2017, when he set the Canadian all-comers record of 2:06:52 (also his personal best). Rono, who trains with NN Running (marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge’s group), was dealing with a calf injury and didn’t have a great race in 2018, finishing ninth in 2:13:36, but the diminutive runner they call Baby Police is healthy and will be back on October 20, hoping not only to win, but to lower his Canadian soil record.
Rono raced at Boston in April, finishing eighth, in 2:08:57–which he was happy with. He is currently running about 200K per week with the NN Training group in Kaptagat under the direction of coach Patrick Sang.
Kipchoge has a big influence on the training, Rono says. “We watch everything he does.” Many accounts of Kipchoge’s training make note of the fact that while living in camp from Monday to Saturday, he takes his turn mopping floors and scrubbing toilets like everyone else. When not working out, the group loves to watch soccer on TV. Like Kipchoge, Rono travels home to his farm on weekends, where he spends time with his wife and young son, and tends his cattle.
Rono’s stiffest competition so far announced will be Abera Kuma, who has a personal best of 2:05:50, and Benson Kipruto, who won last year’s marathon in 2:07:24 (which was seconds off his PB).
The race will also serve as the Canadian marathon championships and unofficial Olympic trials, with the top Canadian male automatically qualifying for Team Canada at Tokyo 2020 (provided he achieves the Olympic standard of 2:11:30 within the qualifying window). Reid Coolsaet, Dylan Wykes, Rob Watson and Canadian marathon record-holder Cam Levins will all be on the start line on October 20.