Huge road racing weekend coming up

Exciting matchups this weekend in Montreal, Vancouver, London, and Boston.

It’s going to be a busy weekend for running fans, trying to keep track of all the races going down this weekend. Here’s a quick run down of what’s going on and who to watch:

Canadian Half-Marathon Championships

The half-marathon championships will be held on Sunday in Montreal as part of the Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal. The men’s race will feature Canada’s top ranked marathoner, Reid Coolsaet, fresh off of a 62:42 half marathon in New York. Coolsaet is the clear favourite, but will face a credible challenge from last year’s winner Matt Loiselle.

In the women’s race, I expect a close battle between Megan Brown of the Brooks Marathon Project and Dayna Pidhoresky of Windsor. Pidhoresky burst onto the scene last Fall with a 1:13:15 half-marathon in Detroit, and she’s already had two big wins this Spring, at the Around the Bay 30K and Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K. Brown has had a more low key Spring, but a 15:42 indoor 5000m this Winter shows she’s in great shape and ready to fight for the win in Montreal.

Vancouver Sun Run

The Sun Run will feature an exciting duel between marathoners Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes. Each man has run a 2:12 marathon in the past year, to rank them as Canada’s second and third best marathoners. Gillis has better track credentials than Wykes, including a berth on the Beijing Olympic team. But Gillis struggled with injuries this winter, while Wykes was putting in solid training leading up to a hugely impressive 62:14 half marathon last month. Based on that performance, Wykes should be the favourite here, though it’s never easy to count out Gillis.

London Marathon

As usual, the London Marathon has assembled an incredible field. With two 2:04 marathoners and four 2:05 marathoners, this has got to be the most competitive marathon in the World. Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede won the race last year, but if either of the two Kenyans, James Kwambai and Patrick Makau, can recreate their 2:04 form of last year they could be able to run away with it.

The star of the women’s field is probably Mary Keitany, who set the half marathon world record earlier this year. If she can translate that fitness to the full marathon, she’ll be the one to beat. If she struggles, watch for Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova, who ran the two fastest times of 2010 with wins in London and Chicago.

Boston Marathon

You know it’s a good weekend of races when the Boston Marathon is fourth on your list. The men’s race will feature the return of last year’s winner and course record holder Robert Cheruiyot, facing off against 2:04.55 man Geoffrey Mutai. The women’s features three past champions in Dire Tune, Salina Kosgei, and Catherine Nderaba. Also watch for Kenya’s Sharon Cherop, who won the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.