Strongest women’s field yet for Toronto ScotiaBank Waterfront Marathon

TORONTO, September
. Defending champion and course record holder, Asha Gigi
of Ethiopia, is confirmed to head up the
strongest women‰Ûªs field to date at the 9th annual Scotiabank Toronto
Waterfront Marathon on September 28th. She‰Ûªll be joined on the start
line by fellow Ethiopians Atsede Bayisa and Mulu Seboka. Together, they will
face a tough Kenyan challenge from Irene Mogaka, Caroline Cheptonui and
Winifredah Kwamboka. Ukrainian Olena Shurkhno is expected to round out the lead
pack, which is likely to give the event its first sub-2:30 women‰Ûªs finish. The
34 year old Gigi ran a solo 2:33:16 last September in Toronto for a new course


‰ÛÏThis is the best, deepest women‰Ûªs
field we‰Ûªve had so far,‰Û said Race Director Alan Brookes. ‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs shaping up to be
the first time we‰Ûªve really had a women‰Ûªs race, with a pack. Asha has been very
consistent lately around 2:28/2:29, and her experience, pitted against some
exciting, young talent promises a gripping contest.‰Û For the first time, the
women‰Ûªs prize purse is identical to the men‰Ûªs at $61,000 plus time bonuses, with
money down to 8th place.


When Gigi recorded her 2:33:16 at
Waterfront ‰Ûª07, she did so running entirely on her own. Despite a highly
injudicious start that saw her go through 10K in 33:35 and half way in 1:12:13,
she hung on to hold off a charging Malgorzata Sobanska by a minute. Since then,
she has run 2:28:24 for 6th in Dubai
in January, then 2:29:28 for 3rd in Hamburg in April. Her career best of 2:26:05
came 4 years ago in Paris.


As the IAAF Silver Label Scotiabank
Toronto Waterfront Marathon has lowered it‰Ûªs men‰Ûªs finishing time from 2:17 to
2:09:30 over the past 5 years, it has gained a growing international reputation
for providing talented, young up-and-comers with the opportunity to secure a
fast time on the flat, Lakeshore course. This year, this is carrying over into
the women‰Ûªs race also. At just 21 years old, Atsede Bayisa won a hilly Istanbul Marathon last
October in 2:29:05. Coached by Hussein Shibo, the
head coach of the Ethiopian Federation who coached the 5000m/10,000m athletes in
Beijing, she is
hoping for a major improvement. Similarly, 24 year old Mulu Seboka defended her
title with a 2:30:04 PR clocking in hot, humid conditions in Mumbai in January,
and is expected to improve that time in Toronto. Kenyan Irene Mogaka, 2nd to
Seboka in Mumbai in 2:32:51, is just 22 years old; Kwamboka is 26, and Cheptonui
27 years.
Shurkhno, coming off a PR of 2:33:37 and 2nd place
at hilly Country Music Marathon in April, is a relative veteran at age


Behind this lead pack, the
International Team Challenge between Team Canada, Team Mexico and Team England promises a highly competitive second
group of 10 women between 2:36 and 2:48, led by Mexico‰Ûªs Judith Ramirez and Alicia Rodruigez, and
Canada‰Ûªs Nicole Stevenson. The
Canadians will be battling to get at least the B standard of 2:43, to claim one
of the 5 places on the Canadian team to the World Championships marathon in
Berlin next


GIGI, Asha [ETH]                                      
2:26:05 (2004)                
BAYISA, Atsede Tesema [ETH]                
2:29:05 (2007)                 
SEBOKA, Mulu [ETH]                               
2:30:04  (2008)                
CHEPTONUI, Caroline  [KEN]                  
2:31:10 (2006)                  
MOGAKA, Irene [KEN]                             
2:32:51 (2008)                 
SHURKHNO, Olena [UKR]                        
2:33:37 (2008)                 
STEVENSON, Nicole [CAN]                     
2:32:56  (2004)                
EVANS, Suzanne [CAN]                          
2:45:38  (2007)                
HARVEY, Lisa [CAN]                               
2:48:48  (2007)                
KWAMBOKA, Winifridah [KEN]         
2:36:30  2007)                  F13  
FAWKE, Kim [ENG]                                
2:42:08  (2008)                  
HAZLITT, Karen [ENG]                            
2:43:30  (2006)                  
DECKER, Helen [ENG]                            
2:47:43  (2008)                  
WOODVINE, Andrea [ENG]                     
2:45:49 (2008)                  
NATOLI, Karen [AUS]                             
2:45:15 (2007)                  
RODRUIGEZ, Alicia [MEX]                      
2:36:16 (2004)                   
RAMIREZ, Judith [MEX]                          
2:36:43  (2007)                  

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