Saturday May 12th was the Occidental Invitational in Los Angeles. The event is a warm-up race for the USATF Distance Classic five days later on May 17th. A large group of Canadians travelled to race both events, and came up big in the first race of the two.
In the women’s 800m, Elizabeth Whelan of Toronto won the race and set the leading 800m time for Canadian women this outdoor season. Whelan is a University of North Carolina alumnus who returned to Toronto to train after she graduated in 2016. Whelan spoke highly of the event saying, “It was a low pressure track meet which is a great way to open up the season.” Her goal for the season is to, “continue to chop my time down and aim to make NACAC in August.” Beyond NACAC, Whelan is looking to stay healthy and have fun.
In the women’s 1,500m Canadian half-marathon record holder, Rachel Cliff, ran significantly under distance and pulled of a win. Cliff ran a season’s best of 4:17.65 which is just off her personal best of 4:16.11 from last summer. Cliff is showing impressive range. Her speed on the track will serve her well on the road this summer.
The men’s 1,500m got off to a slow start but Canadians Thomas Riva and Rob Denault had strong kicks. The Victoria boys finished second and fourth in the event at 3:44.21 and 3:45.81 respectively.
Personal advice on the steeplechase: do a few water jumps prior to your first steeple. Something I did not do. However, coaches of the world now have video evidence to show athletes on how to NOT water jump!
— Lucas Bruchet (@lucabruca) May 13, 2018
Luc Bruchet has moved from the 5,000m down to the 3,000m steeplechase. The 2016 Olympian ran his first race at the new distance last night to finish third. Bruchet struggled over the water jumps and said in a tweet last night that runners should, “do a few water jumps prior to their first steeple.” He opened in 8:54.95 and was followed by fellow Canadian Justin Kent in 9:02.27.
Rachel Cliff was on the track again for the women’s 5,000m but this time as a pacer. She did a great job and brought her Canadian teammates, Kristin Lee and Aurelie Dube-Lavoie, to third and fourth in the race in 16:03.10 and 16:09.62.