By Paul Gains
Running fans across the globe will once again be able to catch all the action at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - an IAAF Gold Label Race - next Sunday, October 21.
The event, which serves as the Canadian Marathon Championships, is being live streamed on AthleticsCanada.tv, beginning at 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time. There will be no geo-blocking.
With world-beating athletes, including two-time Toronto Waterfront champion Philemon Rono (Kenya), 2012 Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), New Zealand record-holder Jake Robertson, and Canada’s Cam Levins making his debut on the men’s side, and a women’s field comprised of defending champion Marta Megra (Ethiopia), Jess Trengove (Australia), Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso and Canada’s own Olympian Krista DuChene, who finished 3rd in the 2018 Boston Marathon, it is sure to be an extraordinary competition.
Produced by Kitchener, Ontario based Astrodog Media, the production will once again include nine “live” cameras including an aerial drone sponsored by KLM. This year they are introducing a team of GPS enabled runners - ten individuals who will be fitted with GPS transmitters so their progress can be followed throughout the race course.
Michael Doyle, former editor of Canadian Running magazine and now with new endurance sports startup Welle Media, returns to the commentary team for his sixth year. Sharing the on-air coverage will be Canadian marathon record holder Lanni Marchant and British announcer Geoff Wightman.
With a laugh Doyle outlines how far the production of this event has come in his time.
“The first time we were outside on a foldout table and chairs and we had one tiny computer monitor that was showing one feed of the broadcast,” he recalls. “We were under a tarp watching the broadcast calling it as we saw the pictures. Now it’s this crazy, massive production, a professional broadcast.”
Doyle says he is excited by the composition of both the international and domestic fields and promises the coverage will have something for running fans of all descriptions. And, once again, the event serves as Athletics Canada’s national championship.
“I think this year is the deepest most interesting and most competitive field they have put together both from an international and domestic perspective,” he declares.
“I am most interested in the potential for the (Canadian) men’s marathon record (2:10:09) going down. I think there is a real possibility that someone like Cam Levins or Reid Coolsaet could get under 2:10. It will be cool sitting next to Lanni Marchant to see that happen because she did that herself in 2013 and knows how life changing that can be for an athlete and how special it is for it to happen on Canadian soil.”
Wightman’s voice has been heard in stadia around the world. He is widely considered one of the foremost experts in athletics.
The former head of Scottish Athletics has been the announcer at the Olympic Games, IAAF World Championships and Commonwealth Games. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia he had the good fortune to announce the men’s 1,500m final and the awards ceremony that followed. It was a race in which his now 24-year-old son, Jake Wightman, took the bronze for Scotland.
“I don’t do a lot of TV. I have done bits and some of the stuff I am doing at the moment is where you are announcing to a live audience and you’re also doing the web stream at the same time,” he adds. “Two or three weeks ago in Copenhagen I did that for the half marathon there.”
“I think there are a lot of sub plots within the race. One of the big stories of the day would be if Cam Levins could get Drayton’s record. That has almost assumed mythical status hasn’t it? It goes back so far. I think that plays well. A repeat win for ‘Baby Police’ (Philemon Rono), I think some of the Canadian females. It’s great.”
Although she would prefer to be out there racing, Lanni Marchant will bring her international experience as a Canadian Olympian to the coverage.
“I am more interested to see how Jess Trengove and Krista fit into the race,” she reveals adding with a laugh. “I have raced Jess plenty of times. She passed me to take a medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I finished 4th.
“I think any time Krista DuChene lines up she is one of our biggest names in Canadian distance running. She is a hometown hero. It’s exciting to see her out there especially after her amazing Boston finish. It's exciting to see what she follows that up with.”
Athletics fans will be afforded the opportunity to see how these sub plots evolve during the three hours plus coverage.