FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
John Kelai runs 2:09:30 for fastest time ever on Canadian soil at
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
TORONTO. September 30th, 2007. Kenya's John Kelai won a thrilling duel with
defending champion, Daniel Rono, at this morning's Scotiabank Toronto
Waterfront to record the fastest time ever run on Canadian soil, 2:09:30.
In so doing, Kelai eclipsed the mark of 2:09:55, set by East Germany's
Waldemar Cierpinski at the 1976 Olympic Marathon in Montreal. "It was a
31-year old record that we we're beginning to think we'd never break!" said
race director Alan Brookes. In the women's race, Ethiopia's Asha Gigi led
from Start to Finish to set a new course record of 2:33:16. Last year's
winner and former course record-holder, Malgorzata Sobanska, was second in
Conditions were excellent in Toronto, with clear skies, low humidity,
little or no wind, and a temperature around 12 celcius at the 7am start in
the downtown area of North America's 5th largest city.
The pacemakers did a solid job of getting a lead pack of 7 to half-way in
65 minutes [even], on the flat, scenic Waterfront course along Lake
Ontario. By 30k, passed in 1:32:37, the group was down to five and the
stage was set: Kelai and Rono, Ethiopian Kasime Adilo, and other Kenyans,
Simon Wangai and Henry Kapkyai. By the East-end turn around in The Beaches
neighbourhood at 33k+, Kapkyai was dropping off. Wangai was the next to go,
around 38k, and a very gutsy Kasime Adilo held on until 40k.
Then it was the Rono-Kelai show that race organizers had hoped for. Rono
surged and Kelai went with him, dropping Adilo. Rono went hard again just
before 41km and opened up a gap of some 30 or 40 metres. Kelai was looking
over his shoulder, and the television commentators had "called it"--Rono
had made the decisive break.Then, remarkably, with about 700m to go, on Bay
Street, Kelai made his move. He was still well back when they made the
final turn onto Wellington St, with 600m to go, but closing. The signs
clicked by as nail-biting spectators watched on the Finish Line jumbotron
screen...500m to go, 400m to go, then at 300m to go Kelai blew by Rono for
the victory and the new record--fastest marathon ever on Canadian soil. To
do so, the protagonists covered the last 5km well under 15 minutes. Rono
crossed the line in 2:09:36 for an important PR and his fist time under
2:10. Adilo was third in 2:10:20 -- almost 2 minutes faster than his
previous best from 2005; Wangai came in a solid fourth in 2:10:53.
Asha Gigi has things all her own way in the Women's race, but did so in
dramatic style. Perhaps over-enthused by Haile's run earlier in the day in
Berlin, Gigi went through 5k in the low 16 minute range; she was
still 33:35 at 10k, and 72:13 at the half. At 10k, she was just behind the
two Team GB men, Neil Renault and Adrian Marriott, who ran 2:18:57! She
paid for her injudicious early pace, fading badly in the later stages to
come home in 2:33:16--still good enough for a new women's course record,
but well short of the sub 2:30 time expected. In marked contrast, veteran
Malgorzata Sobanska of Poland ran a very even, controlled race, but just
ran out of real estate in closing the gap on Gigi. She finished second in
2:34:21, just 11 seconds slower than the time she ran at Toronto Waterfront
in 2006, to set the old course record.
In the International Team Challenge for developmental athletes [2 men, 2
women per team], Team GB narrowly defeated Team Mexico. Team Canada was
third and Team America/USA was 4th.
Over the past 5 years, the sponsorship from Scotiabank and support from
adidas have helped lower Toronto Waterfront winning times from 2:17 to 2:14
to 2:11 to 2:10, to yesterday's 2:09:30, and make the event one of the few
sub-2:10 races in North America.
Full results and photos at: