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Sunday, June 26 2011 - Leslie Sexton Wins Canadian 5,000m Championship

On Friday June 24th, Leslie Sexton provided Track and Field fans in Calgary, Alberta a thrilling victory at the 2011 Canadian Track & Field Championships. Despite winning the bronze medal over 5,000m in 2010, Sexton was only ranked 4th in her discipline and faced an uphill battle to earn her 2nd consecutive Canadian Championship medal. As the race progressed, athletes gradually succumbed to the combination of the tactical changes of pace, as well as the moderate altitude - a factor affecting the longer distance races in Calgary. With 3 laps to go (1,200m), Tamara Jewitt of Toronto made a bold surge in pace that blew the race wide open. Sexton aggressively clawed her way up to Jewitt, before taking over the lead with 500m to go. She never looked back, taking her first Canadian Championship title, before collapsing to the track in exhaustion. Following her upset victory, Sexton commented "It feels great to be Canadian champion in the women's 5000m. My hard work since moving to London and a focus on speed this year got me in the best shape of my life and prepared me to run a good race when it counted."

Sexton was joined in Calgary by London Runner Distance Club teammate Kyle O'Neill. Competing in the 3,000m Steeplechase for the 3rd year in a row at the Canadian Championships, O'Neill faced his strongest field of competitors to date. Following a conservative start, O'Neill smartly worked through the large 17-man field towards a strong 10th place finish.

Now back in London, both athletes get back to work, with upcoming races that include the June 30th Forest City 5k, race #5 in the Runners' Choice London Distance Series, and the July 16-17 Ontario Track & Field Championships in Ottawa. For Sexton, 'back to work' means returning both to training and her part-time jobs. Despite being a top Canadian athlete, she is in the position of many post-collegiate athletes - trying to balance the heavy training demands of an elite runner while working to make ends meet. Fortunately for Sexton, the London Runner Distance Club and their partners provide significant support in this regard. She and O'Neill are both members of the London Runner Athlete Assistance Program that provides financial and material support to  distance runners. Sexton works part-time at local specialty retailer Runners' Choice, while also working as Program Coordinator for the London and Area Running Association. Thanks in part to the support of New Balance and Runners' Choice London, she's been able to make significant improvements since joining the London Runner program and is making a big name for herself at the National level with this Canadian Championship victory.


Photo: Lead pack of 5,000m women at 2011 Canadian Track & Field Championships; Sexton sitting in 5th place with the blue singlet, hip number 6

Monday, June 20 2011 - New Balance 1500m Night Recap

The London-based New Balance 1,500m Night is becoming the 'favourite meet of the year' by athletes and coaches across Ontario. With another year of outstanding results, the 2011 edition showed once again that London is THE place for fast times and an incredible atmosphere. University of Toronto Track Club coach Mike Housley claims "the atmosphere was electric," while other coaches compared it with some of the top meets they've attend over the past few decades.

With Runners' Choice London Distance Series 1500m record holder Tarah Korir (McKay) leading the way, an impressive 35 women broke the 4:50 barrier. Top youngsters Jamie Phelan (Laurel Creek) and Kelly Hennessey (UTTC) ran the fastest times in Canada by girls 17 & Under, locking up top-spots for those vying to represent at the World Youth Championships later this summer. Thomas Fitzgerald, the coach for Jaimie Phelan and her Laurel Creek teammates, describes the 1500m Night as a "highlight in the schedule" where the vast majority of his athletes run their fastest times of the year. Phelan, who improved on her 2010 performance of 4:31 with a 4:29 this past weekend, is one of many top Canadians who consistently runs her strongest seasonal performances here in London. Post-race, the 2011 1500m Night champ Tarah Korir commented on how she "liked the concept of having a night for just 1500m. I enjoyed watching the other races and hope to compete in the final RCLDS meets as well."

The top local runner was Leslie Sexton of the London Runner Distance Club, who ran a huge personal best time of 4:28 to place 2nd overall. Asked for comment, Sexton stated "The competitive field and the incredible atmosphere at the stadium helped me to run a personal best by over four seconds. My breakthrough race on Saturday was an excellent confidence booster heading into the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Calgary, where I will race the top 5000m runners in the country."

The huge men’s field did not disappoint, with a stellar 36 athletes running under 4:00 for the 1500m distance, led by an outstanding performance from Rob Denault of the Newmarket Huskies. Denault set the Canadian Youth 1500m record at this meet last year with a 3:45.87 clocking, and followed that up with another Personal Best performance Saturday night of 3:45.63. The top local runners were Jeremy Walsh of the London Runner Distance Club, who ran a PB of 3:54, along with teammate Aaron Hendrikx, whose 3:53 ranks him as one of the top Juniors (19 & Under) in the country. Leading the strong Youth athletes, Alexander Freemantle (Newmarket) and Ben Flanagan (Tri-City) posted Personal Best times that rank them #1 and #2 in the country. Based on the Canadian rankings, it looks like all 4 World Youth 1,500m competitors will have punched their tickets by racing the New Balance 1,500m Night in London.

One of the top runners heading into the 2011 Canadian Junior Championships, Rob Denault, described the race as "another success for me and the Newmarket Huskies Track Club. A large majority of our club ran PB's and had a great time at the meet!" Thanking the London crew for hosting the event, Denault added: "I was very happy with my effort tonight and was glad to get an overall PB and cut 9 seconds off my seasonal best."

Videos and results of the top sections are available in the video gallery:

The next meet in the Runners' Choice London Distance Series takes place Thursday June 30th at TD Waterhouse Stadium. Open 800m and 5,000m events are scheduled, as well as Invitational 1,500m and 3,000m Steeplechase events which are expected to attract strong fields.

Thursday, June 16 2011 - New Balance 1500m Night Preview

On Saturday June 18th, the 2011 New Balance 1500m Night will draw nearly 200 competitive distance runners to what promises to be a memorable night here in London. Smashing the total entry numbers from 2009 (137) and 2010 (147), the 3rd edition of 1500m Night will host strong fields under the lights on the fast TD Waterhouse stadium track.

Runners' Choice London Distance Series 1500m record holder Tarah Korir (McKay) returns, with a strong cast of athletes joining her. Top women including Jillian Wyman, Tamara Jewett (University of Toronto Track Club), and Leslie Sexton (London Runner) will be using this race as a final tune-up before the 2011 Canadian Track & Field Championships in Calgary, Alberta next week. These senior athletes will be accompanied by an incredible group of youngsters, including 7 of the top-12 finishers from the 2010 Canadian Juniors Championships, as well as the #1 ranked Youth girl in Canada, Jamie Phelan of the Laurel Creek Track Club.

A huge men’s field is led by top seed Saheed Khan (Toronto Olympic Club), the 2009 New Balance 1500m Night Champion. Khan will be joined by Curtis Vollmar, an Eastern Michigan Alum who won the 1500m earlier this year at the Guelph Inferno, the final meet of the 401 West Distance Series. Top Juniors in the field include Rob Denault (Newmarket Huskies), who set the Canadian Youth 1500m record at this meet last year, running an outstanding 3:45.87. The field also includes a remarkable 10 of the top-15 ranked Canadian Youth 1500m runners, including #1 Troy Smith (Niagara Olympic Club) and #2 Alexander Freemantle (Newmarket Huskies).


Saturday, December 27 2014 - 10 Mile Record Ends a Strong 2014
Friday, November 28 2014 - Canadian Cross Country Championships
Tuesday, September 2 2014 - 4th Annual LRDC Cross Country Runathon
Thursday, August 14 2014 - Let the Fall Season Begin!
Tuesday, June 3 2014 - London Runner Distance Club seeks new members


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