Cool temperatures and calm winds made for a perfect night for distance running at TD Waterhouse Stadium on Saturday May 15th. The first meet of the Runner’s Choice London Distance series marked a great start to the summer track season, highlighted by the dominant performance of Olympian Taylor Milne in the 1500m. The meet also served as the Ontario 10,000m Championships, with exciting performances on both the men’s and women’s sides over the 25-lap distance.
Guelph’s Taylor Milne established himself as one of Canada’s top middle distance runners in 2008, when he improved his 1500m personal best from 3:41 down to 3:36.00. He went on to win the National Championships in that event and compete in the Beijing Olympic Games.
This Saturday, Milne was well clear of the rest of the field as he charged to a time of 3:40.71, a new stadium record equivalent to a sub-4 minute mile. Toronto’s Ryan Finn finished second, 8 seconds back from Milne. This is a strong season opener for Milne and indicates that he is on pace to run some world class times later this summer. The top London runner was UWO’s Ryan Huff, crossing the line in a time of 4:01 for 10th place. Huff has a personal best of 3:53 and will be aiming to run 3:49 this summer to qualify for the National Track & Field Championships, held July 28-31.
The women’s 1500 offered an impressive display of front-running, as Jillian Wyman of Hamilton led wire to wire to win in 4:32.12. Wyman, Ontario University Champion in the 1000m in 2009, is a student at McMaster University. The top London runner was Erika Houde-Pearce, a first year student at Fanshawe College, who set a new personal best of 4:56.08 to finish 10th.
After the 1500s, the long distance specialists took to the track for the 10,000m Championship races.
The men’s race was won in a time of 30:26 by 18 year old Andrew Nixon of Thunder Bay. This very fast time is a major breakthrough for the young runner, eclipsing his previous best of 31:12. On the strength of this performance, Nixon qualifies to compete in the World Junior Track and Field Championships, to be held later this summer in Moncton, NB. The 2009 OUA cross country rookie of the year, Nixon is quickly establishing himself as a top Canadian prospect for the longer distances. Second place went to UWO law student Robert Kitz in a time of 30:48.
The women’s race featured two women under the old stadium record of 36:33, set by Kirsty Smith in 2007. Leslie Sexton of Markham, ON took the win in commanding fashion, crossing the line in 35:17, with Guelph’s Courtney Laurie second in 36:25. Both Sexton and Laurie were well under the qualifying standard for the National Championships in July. Coming back from a long stretch of injuries, this performance marks a major return to form for Sexton, a stand-out performer at Queen’s University.
The action will continue at TD Waterhouse Stadium at 8:00pm on June 2, when London will play host to high performance 800m and 3000m. This race will be the second leg of the 401 Distance Series, a series of high performance track meets in Ontario that will feature the cream of the crop of Canadian distance running. All Londoners are encouraged to come out and fill the stands for a chance to see some world-class track athletes in action, which starts at 8:00pm.