• "The Battle of the Burrard Bridge" © Al Brooks

CANADA Running Series - Coolsaet & DuChene with impressive wins at Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon

Coolsaet & DuChene with impressive wins at Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon

 Conditions were almost perfect for the 4,500+ runners from 22 countries who took off from UBC at 7:30am on the majestic course down to Stanley Park: 11 degrees, sunny with some cloud cover, and no wind. Another 2,000 took part in the accompanying 5K in the park, and together they raised an impressive $630,000 for 60 local charities in the Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge.

Coolsaet was always a dominant presence in the race. From the start a pack of 7 formed to circle UBC campus, including training partner Eric Gillis who will also be representing Canada in the Olympic marathon on August 12th, 3-time defending champion Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, London’s Rob Watson, plus resident-Kenyans Willy Kimosop, Josephat Ongeri and Bernard Onsare. Watson, who had only just come from altitude in Flagstaff on Friday said he felt flat from the start and was gone by 3km. By the time the leaders hit 13K coming out of Jericho Beach, the group was down to 3 – Coolsaet, Gillis and Kanagogo, who have had so many great battles in Canada Running series events over the last two years.

The trio hit 15K in 44:49, then Coolsaet went to work, putting in several moderate surges to soften up his rivals. After 3:11 and 3:08 kilometres, the confident Hamiltonian put in a 2:56, then dropped the hammer on the downhill slope through Kits Beach. Between 16k and 17k he opened a 10m gap on Gillis and another 10m gap back to Kangogo. The race looked over, but the experienced Kangogo had other ideas about giving up his title without as fight.

First he reeled in Gillis, then closed down Coolsaet as they hit 18km and the strategic 600m climb up the Burrard Bridge. As the two battled up the slope Coolsaet showed his strength, holding off Kangogo who could never quite close the gap, then going hard from the top all the way down Pacific to break the plucky Albertan. “It was fun today,” said Coolsaet. “With 7 weeks to the Olympic marathon, I feel good about where I am. It was a challenging, fun course today. It was a good confidence booster, and I want to be aggressive in London and go for top 10.” Kangogo held on well to finish in 63:28, with Gillis also under 64 minutes with a 63:56 for 3rd. “I was a bit disappointed to let Reid get away, and miss my PB by 20 seconds, but it was a good, hard effort and the main objective was completely achieved. I’m pleased.

Now 5 more weeks in Guelph and London here we come!” Kangogo was similarly happy with his day and will begin training for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon after the July 1st holiday. “I’m looking forward to some strong training after a good Spring,” said Kip. “Then hopefully a 2:11 or 2:12 at Waterfront would be nice. I learned a lot from my debut last Fall and will train harder.” With Canadian citizenship in the works, the always affable pride- of-Lethbridge has hopes of making qualifying in Toronto for the Canadian Team for the World Championships Marathon in Moscow next summer.

Krista DuChene sets new PB and sends a message she's on the national stage now --"and I've got lots more to come!"

 While the women’s race lacked the drama of the men’s, Krista Duchene put in an equally impressive performance. Unfortunately, the anticipated duel between her and London’s Lanni Machant didn’t materialize after Marchant was forced to drop out at 5km with foot problems. That left the experienced DuChene to chase Kenyan Anne Jelegat. As the Kenyan faded in the later stages following her win in the Manitoba Marathon last Sunday, DuChene struck decisively around 15km to cruise in for the victory.

“It was my kind of race – ‘Steady Eddie’ as Nicole Stevenson calls me – and executed as planned by my coach Rick Mannen. I should run steady 3:30s, then see who I could reel in late on,” said Duchene. “I was surprised to see Lanni drift back to me between 4km and 5km. I said ‘Are you okay?’ She said, ‘No’ and dropped out soon after. I then thought I would wait for the big hill at the bridge at 18km to take on the Kenyan, but I actually went by her about 15k and just kept going.” The performance was a major PB by more than a minute and a half. “I’d really like to go to Moscow and run for Canada in the World Championships Marathon next summer. I feel like I’m at a new level now – I just did my first-ever 100 mile week in training — with a lot more to go. You haven’t seen the best of me yet. I’m looking for 5 good years…”

Jelegat hung on for second place in 76:43, with Calgary Masters veteran and former Olympian Lisa Harvey in 3rd in 78:36.

Canada Running Series now moves back East with the Toronto 10 miler on August 12th – London Olympics Men’s Marathon day – the OASIS ZooRun 10K on September 22nd (that also doubles as Athletics Canada’s National Road 10K Championships), and the grand finale at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 14th.

Complete results and photos at www.vancouverhalf.com