Several Canadians took to tracks in Canada and the U.S. this past weekend to chase fast times and take a shot at running Olympic standard, as the qualifying window reopened for track athletes on December 1. The two big events of the week (on the track, not the road, which had its own collection of important and exciting races) were the simply-titled Track Meet in California and the third and final event of the B.C. Endurance Project’s Saturday Night Lights (SNL) series. Several Canadians competed in California — including 2016 Olympian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, who ran a 5,000m PB of 13:22.44 — and a small group of elites that featured Luc Bruchet tackled the 5,000m in B.C.
Track Meet was a two-day event, with 5,000m races on Friday and 10,000m runs on Saturday. On Friday night, four other Canadians joined Philibert-Thiboutot on the track. Running in the fastest heat of the night, Philibert-Thiboutot ran to a sixth-place finish in 13:22.44. This time smashed his previous PB of 13:33.25, but it was still nine seconds off the Olympic standard of 13:13.50. With the qualifying window only just opened, though, this should give Philibert-Thiboutot a lot of confidence heading into 2021.
Laval University’s Jean-Simon Desgagnés was in the same heat, finishing with a 13:54.01 PB. Will Paulson and Thomas Fafard also ran to PBs, running 13:40.32 and 13:57.18, respectively. Northern Arizona University runner Taryn O’Neill was the lone Canadian woman racing at Track Meet, and she ran to eighth in her heat in a PB of 15:49.47.
On Saturday, Farah Abdulkarim was the only Canadian to race the 10,000m. The University of Mississippi runner posted a PB of 28:27.34 in the fastest heat of the day. There were a number of other impressive performances from American runners, too. In the women’s races, eight runners ran under the Olympic 10,000m standard of 31:25.00, including Stephanie Bruce (31:24.47) and Kellyn Taylor (31:15.65). On the men’s side, four runners beat the 27:28.00 Olympic standard, including Edward Cheserek (27:23.58).
Full results from Track Meet can be found here.
— Lucas Bruchet (@lucabruca) December 6, 2020
Saturday Night Lights
The final event of the SNL endurance series didn’t feature as many athletes as Track Meet, but it still saw some quick results in the 5,000m race. Former UBC runner Natalia Hawthorn was the only woman racing, and she lined up with the second heat of men to start. Running solo for 5K, she didn’t let the lack of competitors stop her from surging to a 5,000m PB of 15.49.15, improving her previous best by 14 seconds.
Three other UBC alumni, Bruchet, John Gay and Kieran Lumb, also raced on Saturday. Bruchet, who competed in the 5,000m at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, led the way in 13:32.99. Gay followed in 13:38.55 (a 19-second PB) and Lumb finished in 13:43.36.
Full results from the SNL series can be found here.