Toronto - Olympians Eric Gillis of Antigonish, N.S.,, and Krista DuChene of Brantford, Ont., took home Canadian titles today at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon which also served as Athletics Canada’s 2016 Canadian Marathon Championship.
Talk before the Canadian men’s championship race focused on the prospect of Eric Gillis making a run at Jerome Drayton’s Canadian marathon record. Despite humid conditions and a short recovery window since the Rio Olympics, Gillis was on record pace through halfway, clocking 64:58.
“I felt really great through the first half. I had a good group of guys out there including Reid (Coolsaet). I went through 65 flat which is right now 2:10 pace and I definitely felt I could keep that going for quite a bit longer. Around 25k I felt some tightness in my hips and my right knee had a twinge. I tried to loosen that up. The more I tried to loosen up, the more I slowed down. That does happen and it’s unfortunate that it did,” explained the Rio Olympic tenth place finisher.
Gillis battled over the second half of the course to be the first Canadian man across the finish line (fifth overall) in a time of 2:13:43. “I wanted to do this race regardless of how I finished in Rio,” explained Gillis. “It was a learning experience. I’ve never done two that close together. I didn’t put any expectations on myself. Training went well and I tried to go for it. The race didn’t work out but I managed and I’m ok with it.”
Rounding out the Canadian Championship podium were second and third place finishers Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, Alta., and Jeff Costen of Toronto, Ont.
A solid field of Canadian women assembled to battle for the national marathon title. Dayna Pidhoresky of Vancouver, B.C., set the pace during the early kilometres of the race. Pidhoresky crossed halfway in 1:15:12, about a 25-second lead on the chase pack. But over the later stages of the championship race, Krista DuChene and Rachel Hannah of Toronto, Ont., reeled her back in and proved to be too strong.
DuChene was the first Canadian woman across the line in 2:33:59 (fifth overall). “It was super tough,” explained the 2016 Olympian. “I knew going into it with the humidity that there wouldn't be fast times. My experience is what got me the win today. I knew the competition was fierce and I knew from experience that I needed to be patient.”
Rounding out the Canadian Championship podium were 2nd and 3rd place finishers Rachel Hannah and Dayna Pidhoresky.
Canadian Marathon Championships
Gold – Eric Gillis, 2:13:42
Silver – Kip Kangogo, 2:22:13
Bronze – Jeff Costen, 2:27:33
Gold – Krista DuChene, 2:33:59
Silver – Rachel Hannah, 2:34:34
Bronze – Dayna Pidhoresky, 2:40:38