Massive improvements are hard to come by in running. It often takes months and years, as opposed to days and weeks, for significant jumps to be made within the sport, with hundreds of hours of preparation on display for a fraction of that time on race day, when it matters the most.
Here are some, but certainly not all, of the breakthroughs in Canadian running from the past 12 months, in no particular order.
In his marathon debut, a 2:18:58 in Hamburg, Germany, Thomas Toth qualified for his the IAAF World Championships team after representing Canada at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships earlier in the year.
Having never broken 3:00 in the marathon, Melanie Myrand ran 2:39:10 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which doubled as the Canadian Marathon Championships. She finished third in Toronto and second at the Canadian 10,000m Championships in June.
Victoria Coates won the Canadian 10,000m title, finished second at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships, represented Canada at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships and won the Indianapolis Half-Marathon in a personal-best time of 1:13:43. She PB’d in the 5,000m, 10,000m, 5K, 10K and half-marathon in 2017, according to All Athletics.
Kevin Blackney broke 30:00 in the 10,000m and reached the national podium for the first time as a senior finishing second at the Canadian 10K Championships, part of the Ottawa 10K, in May. The only runner who beat Blackney that day was three-time Olympian Eric Gillis.
After getting into running in 2011, Mallory Richard posted her best result to date at the Western States 100, finishing 11th overall in one of the world’s most competitive trail 100-milers. She then set a course record winning the Hennepin Hundred, a 100-miler in Illinois, in 16:28:14.
Justyn Knight was already one of the nation’s top distance runners prior to 2017, narrowly missing qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. In 2017, Knight arrived on the international scene, qualifying for the men’s 5,000m at the IAAF World Championships and running 13:17.51 for 5,000m. After his track accomplishments, Knight went on to win his first individual NCAA Division One Cross-Country title.
A talented all-around athlete, Kieran Lumb ran for Canada at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships, shortly after winning the NACAC Cross-Country Championships. Lumb went on to run for Canada at the World Mountain Running Championships and then won the U20 8K at November’s national cross-country championships. He also helped UBC win its first-ever men’s team cross-country title at the NAIA Championships earning individual bronze.
After winning the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon, Lyndsay Tessier finished second at the Canadian Marathon Championships taking nine minutes off of her previous PB, from 2014, running 2:36:55. Her half-marathon split in that race was 51 seconds off her half-marathon PB, set in Vancouver in June.
After finishing 20th at the Canadian university cross-country championships in 2015 and subsequently missing the event in 2016, the University of Guelph’s Connor Black earned his first individual U Sports cross-country medal in November, finishing second only to Yves Sikubwabo.
James Linde’s 100m PB of 10.42 was set at the Harry Jerome Track Classic, perhaps the most prestigious athletics event in Canada, where he finished second to three-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse. Linde went on win silver at the World University Games.
Yes, Claire Sumner was the Canadian university cross-country champion in 2016. But the jump to Canadian senior cross-country champion is significant as Sumner won the national title in November after finishing second at this year’s university cross-country championships.
Shelley Doucet won the women’s marathon at the Francophone Games and ran 2:45:46 for the marathon in Boston. She also represented Canada internationally in mountain running finishing in the top-10 at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.
Jaimie Phelan won the women’s 1,500m at the NCAA Division One Track and Field Championships passing 11 runners in the final lap in a kick for the ages. She covered the final 400m (last lap) in 61.62 to win in 4:13.78, just off her PB of 4:11.92.
💪👅 Guns out tongues out . . #tbt to my first Abbott World Marathon Major. Squeaked into the top 30 and on to the leaderboard 🐸 . . 2:23:54 – 1:12:03 / 1:11:51 That is 2 back to back 1/2 marathons just over a minute off of my current 1/2 marathon PB . . My marathon pace is now what my 1/2 marathon pace was in 2015 and my 10km pace is what my 5km pace was in 2016. Progression over time . . Onward. Faster times ahead #unlimited #breakthrough #nrc #nrctoronto #nikerunning @nikerunning