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Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon: elite race preview

This year's STWM brings a particularly exciting elite field of Canadian and international marathoners

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon


Philemon Rono
Photo: Tim Huebsch

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is this Sunday, and it’s shaping up to be the deepest and most competitive elite field yet for the fast, flat race along Toronto’s lakeshore. The purse is $30,000 each for the male and female winners, with cash prizes up to sixth place, plus another $40,000 for the male winner if he also breaks the course record and all-comers record (2:06:52). The male winner receives an additional $10,000 for going sub 2:06:30.

RELATED: Former champion to return to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The female winner gets an additional $40,000 if she breaks the course record (2:22:43), and a further $10,000 for breaking the Canadian all-comers record (2:22:17).

STWM is an IAAF gold-label race and also host to Athletics Canada’s Canadian Marathon Championships. Here is a preview of who is racing and the goals they are chasing.

The women’s race

Course record: 2:22:43 (held jointly by Koren Jelela of Ethiopia and Sharon Cherop of Kenya)

Leslie Sexton, 31, of London, Ont., was the fastest Canadian woman at Scotiabank last year, with a time of 2:35:47. She has stated her goal is to exceed her personal best (2:33:33, achieved at STWM in 2015). Ultimately Sexton would like to go sub-2:30 and join the likes of Lanni Marchant (Canadian record-holder, at 2:28), Krista DuChene (also running Scotiabank this year), Silvia Ruegger, Jaqueline Gareau and Lioudmila Kortchaguina.

Leslie Sexton
Photo: Matt Stetson

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Krista DuChene, 41, of Brantford, Ont., is one of the most prominent faces in distance running in Canada. DuChene will run her 16th marathon in 16 years this Sunday at STWM, and it will be her fifth time running Scotia. DuChene famously finished third at this year’s Boston Marathon, in cold, rainy, windy conditions that took 23 other elites out of the race, and she was the Canadian Marathon Champion in 2016. Her personal best is 2:28:32, set at STWM in 2013.

DuChene at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Instagram: Krista DuChene

Two-time Commonwealth Games medalist Jess Trengove, 31, of Australia has 11 marathons to her name, a personal best of 2:26:31, two Olympic appearances and two Commonwealth Games medals, including 2014 (when she pushed ahead of Canadian Lanni Marchant for the bronze), and this year on the Gold Coast, where she finished third. She was ninth at the IAAF World Championships in London last year.

Kinsey Middleton, 25, will run her marathon debut at STWM on Sunday. She ran 1:12:30 (her PB) at the Houston Half-Marathon in January, and was subsequently invited to the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain this spring. Born in Idaho, Middleton holds dual citizenship, studying there and then joining the Hansons Brooks Project in Michigan before returning to Idaho to train. “I would love to run below the (World Championships) ‘A’ standard, which I think is 2:37,” Middleton told STWM. 

Kinsey Middleton. Photo: courtesy of Canada Running Series

Marta Megra, 27, of Ethiopia is the STWM defending champion, winning last year’s race in 2:28:20. Her marathon PB is 2:24:08, set earlier this year at the Paris Marathon, where she finished sixth.

Megra breaking the tape at STWM 2017. Photo: Todd Fraser/Canada Running Series

Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka, 32, won this year’s Ottawa Marathon in 2:22:17, setting a new Canadian soil record for the women’s marathon. Her personal best is 2:20:45, set at this year’s Dubai Marathon.

Mimi Belete, 30, of Bahrain (originally from Ethiopia), is a four-flat 1,500m runner who only recently moved up to the marathon. Her personal best is from the Hamburg Marathon in April, where she finished third, in 2:26:06

Amane Beriso, 27, of Ethiopia has a PB of 2:20:48, from her second-place finish at the 2016 Dubai Marathon. Beriso has the fastest PB of any woman who has ever raced STWM.

The men’s race

Men’s course record: 2:06:51 (set by Philemon Rono in 2017).

Philemon Rono, 27, of Kenya, is the 2017 STWM defending champion who set a course record, a new personal best, and a Canadian all-comers record with his winning time of 2:06:52 last year. (He also won STWM in 2016.) 

Reid Coolsaet, 39, of Hamilton, Ont., is a two-time Olympian and the second-fastest Canadian marathoner of all time, with a PB of 2:10:28 (set at the Berlin Marathon in 2015). He has had his eye on Jerome Drayton’s 2:10:09 Canadian record for some time, and no Canadian has run Scotiabank–or any other marathon on Canadian soil–faster. Coolsaet set that record (2:10:55) here in 2011. Coolsaet was out of competition for most of 2017 due to injury.

Reid Coolsaet in 2016

Jake Robertson, 28, of New Zealand, made his marathon debut in March at Japan’s Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, with a 2:08:26 third-place finish that was also a New Zealand national record. He has also won the Houston Half-Marathon in January (60:01), and the Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine (in 27:37–the third-fastest time in the race’s 20-year history). Robertson has lived and trained with his twin brother Zane in Iten, Kenya for 12 years. He has expressed the intention not only to win but to challenge Rono’s course record of 2:06:51, set last year.

Jake Robertson
Robertson with his Kenyan girlfriend, Magdalene Masai. Photo: Jake Robertson/Instagram.

Cam Levins, 29, who is from Black Creek, B.C., will make his much-anticipated marathon debut at this year’s STWM. He is the former Canadian 10,000m record holder, and won the bronze medal in that distance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Levins was plagued with an injury requiring surgery in 2016, and has struggled to return to form, but came back with a 62:15 at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain this spring, and finished third at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon in mid-September, in 1:03:10.

Cam Levins
Cam Levins. Photo: Canada Running Series/Instagram.

Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Mekonnen, 23, shocked the running world when he ran a 2:04:32 marathon debut as an 18-year-old four years ago, winning the 2014 Dubai Marathon, in the fastest U20 performance of all time. He was third at Dubai in 2016, and won the Hamburg Marathon in 2017. His PB is 2:04:32, set in Dubai in 2014.

John Korir, 22, of Kenya, debuted the marathon this spring in Ottawa with a second-place finish and a time of 2:09:14. He is the brother of Wesley Korir, who won the Boston Marathon in 2012.

John Korir at 2018 Ottawa Race Weekend. Photo: KevinMorris, PhotoRun

Stephen Kiprotich, 29, of Uganda is the first Olympic marathon champion ever to lace up at STWM. Kiprotich also won the 2012 London Marathon and the 2013 world championships in Moscow. His PB is 2:06:33. Kiprotich is the friend and training partner to not only Rono, but also world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge in Iten, Kenya. They are all coached by 1992 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Patrick Sang. 

Stephen Kiprotich at the 2018 Hamburg Marathon. Photo: NN Running

At the time of writing, the weather forecast is for a high of 9 C, with a 30 per cent chance of showers.

For more information on the Scotibank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, click here.