Toronto folk getting ready to spectate this month’s Waterfront Marathon should be looking to spot Kenyan flag-bearer, Angela Tanui, at the IAAF Gold Label race.

Tanui won’t shy away from this role when she finds herself toeing the line on Oct. 22nd. The athletic rivalry between Kenya and Ethiopia is legendary and longstanding, particularly in Toronto. Ethiopian women have been victorious seven of the last ten years. To further indicate how close the rivalry is, the course and Canadian all-comers women’s record is 2:22:43, held jointly by Sharon Cherop of Kenya and Koren Jelala Yal of Ethiopia.

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Personal bests

So why keep eyes peeled for Tanui specifically? Well, the runner holds a 31:26 10K PB, a 1:07:16 for the half-marathon and she’s pretty new to the marathon having just made her debut earlier this year. The athlete showed up to the Vienna Marathon and ran 2:26:31 to place fifth. After this experience, she says she learned that this race distance is all about being calculated. 

Those waiting to predict the top runners at this year’s marathon will be curious to know where Tanui is at physically and mentally right now. 

“My expectation is to run a personal best,” she says. “With the debut in Vienna, I’m confident I learned a lot and can really improve.” She acknowledges that training was tougher and that she’ll be showing up in Canada’s largest city better prepared overall. 

Family life

Tanui is from a large family: she has two brothers and four sisters waiting for her back home. Tanui’s boyfriend, Elijah Tirop, will accompany her to Toronto as he’ll perform pace-making duties for the elite men. She’ll also arrive in Toronto with some household names who have been successful on the course in the past. Ishhimael Chemtan flat out won the marathon two years ago, training partner Rebecca Chesir came third last year and Sharon Cherop won in 2010 and knows the course well. 

“I spoke of the race with them and they told me that it is a non-predictable race which varies according to the weather conditions,” she says. (Past marathons have actually seen the odd snowflake make an appearance, while others have been unseasonably humid.)

Although she’s just 25 years old and conceivably has another five to ten years of running, she’s already had thoughts of what life might look like upon retirement.

“I would like to be a coach,” she says. “I’m accumulating a lot of experience in the field and would like one day to share my knowledge with the young runners of my village in order to give them the opportunity to improve their lifestyle and have an income from this activity.”

Still, that’s a bit far out yet. As of now, she’s early in her marathon running career and she’s got less than two weeks now before she makes her second crack at the distance. 

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