Sunday’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was arguably the most hyped marathon ever on Canadian soil. Did it live up to the hype? It sure did. Coolsaet set out at a blazing pace coming through the half way point in 1:03:58, just narrowly missing the Canadian Marathon Record at the finish line while his training partner, Eric Gillis slipped under the Canadian Olympic Qualifying Standard by 1 second. Furthermore, the official gun time had the first and second place finishers separated by .3 after 42.2 kilometers of racing. What more could we ask for? How about a 100 year old man completing the marathon!?! It was truly a day that will go down in history as the best Canadian Marathon of all time. Alan Brookes and The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Team should be proud. With all that said, several media outlets reported that Coolsaet and Gillis should book their flights to London.
The Selection Process:
Most country’s athletes including the Americans, are required to run the IAAF Olympic Standard of 2:15:00 in order to represent their country at the Olympics. Athletics Canada on the other hand, requires its male marathoners to run 3 minutes and 31 seconds faster than the Olympic Standard to meet the Canadian Olympic qualifying standard of 2:11:29.
The top 3 Canadians under the time of 2:11:29 as of April 22nd 2012 will represent Canada in London in 2012.
If Canada’s selection process were similar to that of most countries we would have had a 3rd potential qualifier from Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon named Dylan Wykes. Dylan ran 2:12:56 on Sunday, over 2 minutes under the IAAF Olympic qualifying time.
Under the current system (without a trials), Canada’s elite marathoners are compromising their success at the Olympics by having to compete in what could be (in theory) several marathons in order to secure their top 3 position. By hosting an Olympic trials, we could select our team several months out from the Olympics and allow these superb athletes to focus on the ultimate goal of achieving success in London. For example, the Americans will know who is representing the USA on January 14th, putting their qualifiers at an advantage—as they will not be forced to defend their spot in subsequent marathons prior to the games. Proper training (periodization) including adequate rest following marathon efforts is crucial.
If the medal count is so important to Athletics Canada they should try giving their athletes a legitimate shot at bringing home some hardware. This is not the 1500 meters folks, you can’t run a marathon every weekend!
Are Gillis and Coolsaet REALLY London Bound in 2012? The answer is MAYBE.
The truth of the matter is that they will have to wait until April 22, 2012 to see if anyone else runs faster. April 22nd, 2012 is the deadline to hit the Canadian Olympic Standard. It also happens to be the race date of The London Marathon, one of the world’s fastest courses. Given great conditions, it would not be far fetched to believe that Dylan Wykes could run under Gillis’ time of 2:11:28. Moreover, Simon Bairu certainly has the credentials to run well under 2:11:28 in Japan in early December. If this scenario plays out, Gillis would not be London bound. Not only did Bairu not have to compete with blustery conditions on Sunday, he now knows exactly what time he has to run to book his flight to The Olympic Games based on The STWM results.
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon provided the hype and drama of a real Olympic Trials without a conclusion. What Alan Brookes and The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Team pulled off was next to impossible. They corralled almost every elite marathoner in the country into one race. Our hat goes off to Alan Brookes.
Will Coolseat and Gillis be forced to run a spring marathon?
I believe so. They will be forced to not only run, but peak for another marathon on April 22nd, 2012 BECAUSE Bairu, Wykes, Watson, and Louiselle for example would be able to steal their spots at The London Marathon on April 22nd, 2012. They either run on April 22nd or hit refresh 1,000 times on their computers as the remaining Olympic hopefuls run the streets of London.
Furthermore, they would be required to recover and prepare for The Olympic Games just 15 weeks later, whereas the U.S. Olympic Team will be decided mid-January, providing them with ample time to prepare for The Olympic Games. It can take upwards of 4 weeks to recover from that kind of effort, leaving just 9 weeks to prepare to take on the best the world has to offer. Not enough time.
Runners Feed has confirmed that Gillis will reassess his situation following some much deserved down time. Chris Moulton, who is one of the Speed River coaches stated, “our focus is on putting Gillis and Coolsaet in the best position to perform as well as possible in London”.
About the Author:
Brandon Laan is a runner, coach, and entrepreneur. He spent his undergraduate days at The University of Western Ontario where he captained the Cross Country Team before fleeing to Hawaii Pacific University for graduate school. He is a Level II Certified USATF coach and holds personal bests of 1:06 and 2:21 in the Half Marathon and Marathon respectively. He also enjoys running to eat, not eating to run…and always will.