Two Canadian Olympic marathon runners made Sunday’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon their final race before making a run for the podium at the upcoming London Summer Games.
Reid Coolsaet, 32, had this year’s winning time for the annual race stretching 21.2 kilometres from UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium to the finish line in Stanley Park. Coolsaet crossed the tape early Sunday morning in a time of one hour, three minutes, 16 seconds—just five seconds shy of the standing course record set in 2007 by Kenya’s Patrick Nthiwa.
“That would have been really nice, to have that extra five seconds, but for where we are in training, I’m happy with it,” Coolsaet told the Courier shortly after finishing. “This is the final prep going into London and I just wanted to get a good effort in the middle of some high mileage training.”
Coolsaet and training partner Eric Gillis, who completed the race 40 seconds behind him for third place, have both been putting in serious road work together in Guelph, Ont. working with head coach Dave Scott Thomas of the Speed River Track and Field Club. Coolsaet said they put in over 200 kilometres last week and nearly as many in the past several days.
“It was pretty hard for Eric and I to come in here with such high mileage but I think we both got what we wanted out of it, which was a solid effort,” added Coolsaet. “It wasn’t hot, so that was nice, because we’re coming from Ontario and it is pretty warm for running.”
Both runners qualified for the 42-km London Olympic Marathon at last October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where Coolsaet came in third with a time of 2:10:55 and Gillis in fourth place with 2:11:28.
Gillis, who placed 33rd in the 10,000m event at the 2008 Beijing Games, admitted he would have liked to have done better.
“I’m not really happy with it but it is only really a buildup,” said Gillis. “I don’t have too much expectation going into these things. Reid put in a surge around 15 kilometre mark that I tried to cover but couldn’t. I felt like I still finished strong though.”
The Vancouver half-marathon’s defending champion, Kenyan Kip Kangogo who lives in Lethbridge, Alta., came in second with a time of 1:03:27. The only runners from British Columbia to make the top 10 were Victoria’s Matt Clout, who came in seventh with a time of 1:07:57, and Drew Nicholson of Surrey, who came in ninth at 1:13:29.
Krista Duchene, a 35-year-old mother of three who also trains in Guelph, won the women’s race in 1: 14:03, a time good enough for 13th place overall in the field of more than 4,500 runners from 22 different countries.
Vancouver women to finish in the top 10 include Rebecca Reid (7th place), Mary Walsh (8th place) and Kristin Smart (10th place).
Another 2,000 people took part in the accompanying five-km walk/run within Stanley Park. The two combined events raised an estimated $630,000 for local charities.