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Canada’s Reid Coolsaet 2:11:23 at Toronto

 Mungara,
Cherop, Coolsaet  top record-setting
day at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

TORONTO. September 27th. Kenya’s Kenneth Mungara and
Sharon Cherop ran the fastest men’s and women’s marathons ever on Canadian soil,
and Hamilton’s Reid Coolsaet took a giant leap towards achieving his Olympic
dream, Sunday at the 21st Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
(STWM).

Mungara won his third consecutive STWM title completing the
42.195-kilometre course in 2:07:58, smashing his previous record of 2:08:32, set
in 2009. Jafred Chirchir was second in 2:08:09 and Daniel Rono, who won the 2006
event, was third in 2:08:14 ‰ÛÓ completing the Kenyan sweep of the men’s podium.
Kenyan runners have won the STWM race for the past five years.

The
top four men were all under Mungara’s 2009 record.

Coolsaet was the top Canadian ‰ÛÓ 10th overall ‰ÛÓ in
2:11:23, achieving the Canadian Olympic standard for the 2012 Games, and running
the fastest marathon ever by a Canadian in Canada.

Cherop’s victory was more dramatic, needing a sprint finish to
claim the title in 2:22:43, just slightly ahead of second-place Tirfi Tsegaye of
Ethiopia, who was 2:22:44. Ethiopia’s Merima Mohammed finished third in 2:23:06.
Vancouver’s Katherine Moore was the top Canadian woman in 2:47.

“It
was so close, and I tried to keep [my] edge. I had to fight,” said Cherop, who
shattered her previous personal best (2:28:38) and put Kenya back on top of the
women’s podium, after Ethiopian runners claimed the title for the past three
years.

The
top four women were under the previous Canadian all-comers record of 2:26:01,
set by Lydia Simon of Romania at the 2001 world championships in Edmonton. The
top three ran the 5th, 6th, and 7th fastest
women’s times in the world so far this year and were all faster than the winning
time in Berlin, held earlier in the day.

The
top women pushed the tempo and hovered around 2:23-pace for most of the race,
before a fast, thrilling duel over the last 7km.

While
Cherop and Tsegaye took the women’s race down to the wire, Mungara got the dirty
work out of the way before the runners reached the downtown core.

After
running comfortably behind the pacemakers for most of the race, reaching the
halfway point at 63:42, Mungara threw in a nasty surge at 35K when the runners
were passing a water station. As Chirchir and Rono veered towards the tables to
grab their bottles, Mungara chose to skip the fuelling opportunity, increasing
his cadence and speeding away.

He
immediately put a couple of strides between himself and his competitors, opening
a healthy lead over the final few kilometres.

Mungara didn’t show any signs of weakness.

 “I don’t know how. My
lord helped me,” he said. “I was so happy when I got to the front.”  

The
conditions ‰ÛÓ about nine degrees, with no wind ‰ÛÓ were ideal for marathon
running.

Coolsaet, 31, knew an opportunity like this wouldn’t come very
often, so he furiously chased the Olympic standard of 2:11:29, set by Athletics
Canada last Wednesday.

“Part
of me wanted to go for the Canadian record,” Coolsaet said, in reference to
Jerome Drayton’s 2:10:09, set in 1975. “[It] was still within reach at halfway
(65:03). But that was a little tough. I tried to rally to stay on Olympic
standard, and I had to push those last 2K to make sure I got under.”

“With
1K to go, I looked at my watch, and thought, ‰Û¢I got to buckle down here.'”

 Coolsaet maintained a
steady pace, with a slightly positive split (65:10 first half, then 66:13),
smiling uncontrollably over the final 200m when he know he was going to get the
Olympic Standard.

Teammate Eric Gillis also set a two-minute personal best in
2:12:08, despite nursing a sore knee and running most of the second half alone.
As in his Houston debut in January, he finished strong.

“It
felt surprisingly good,” Gillis said. “Around 38K, I was starting to hurt. But
instead of slowing down, I tried to pick it up a bit, and it worked. I was able
to find another gear.”

Emotions were running high for Dave Scott-Thomas, who coaches both
Coolsaet and Gillis at the Speed River Track and Field Club in Guelph, Ont.

“Honestly, at the end, I was crying,” Scott-Thomas said. “It’s a
powerful connection you have. It’s not just training stuff ‰ÛÓ it’s life. I mean,
my youngest daughter is named after [Reid].”

“This
wasn’t mind blowing range. This is what we thought they should run. I’m very
happy, but not surprised,” he added.

Race
director Alan Brookes said he couldn’t pick just one favourite moment on a day
where two Canadian all-comers records fell, and a local runner made the Olympic
standard.

“Over
the past few years, we’ve come to believe we could have a marathon in Toronto
that is every bit as good as a marathon in Chicago, Los Angeles, Rome or
Amsterdam,” Brookes said.

About
20,000 runners took part in marathon, half marathon and 5K races, raising more
than $2.7 million for 127 local
charities.

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