Sunday October 16th was a big day for local long distance runners, as the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront event played host with a Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5k race on tap. London athletes entered in droves, the largest of which was the Runners' Choice Marathon clinic, which had over 70 runners compete in either the Half or Marathon events. It was a banner day for the John Ferguson-led Marathon group which, as always, saw many Boston Marathon qualifications and personal best times.
Top local performances were turned in by event champions Leslie Sexton and Jeremy Walsh. Competing in the Half Marathon, Sexton ran a personal best time of 1:16:32 and won the women's race. The win was one in a series of successes, but stands out for Sexton as it marks her greatest performance to date. According to the statistical 'Mercier' scoring tables, the performance is comparable to a 2:41 Marathon, or a 2:17 Marathon for a male runner. While she has a lot of training to do in preparation for her 2012 Marathon debut, Sexton is buoyed by the prospect that a 2:40 marathon is within her grasp.
Not to be outdone, teammate Walsh won the 5k race later that day with a break-through performance of 15 minutes and 37 seconds. "It was a great day for London Runner with Suda and Leslie killing their PBs in the Half," said an excited Jeremy Walsh. "It adds a whole new level of excitement to hear about your teammates doing well; I was very proud to call myself a London Runner on Sunday."
Placing 8th in the Half Marathon, Matt Suda was the first local across the finish line on Sunday thanks to his 3-minute personal best performance of 1:11:14, a time that ranks him near the top of local distance runners over the past decade. "I was very happy to run a big PB in less than ideal conditions," commented Suda, adding that his "training has certainly paid off and I'm looking forward to future success on the roads."
Suda and Sexton, along with several London Runner teammates, will next compete at the Halloween Haunting road races this weekend, followed later in the year by the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia.
October 15-16 marks a big race weekend for the London Runner crew as they travel to Guelph on Saturday for the New Balance Vic Matthews Open cross country meet, followed by the Scotiabank Waterfront road race event in Toronto on Sunday. Hosted by the University of Guelph, the Vic Matthews meet may be the strongest Ontario cross country meet this year, as a slew of top-ranked CIS teams will be joined by a strong squad of post-collegiate athletes including many National team members. LRDC will have just under a dozen athletes competing at the Guelph arboretum, flying under various flags including the host Gryphons where rookie Aaron Hendrikx is making a splash and will look to improve on his 34th place finish from last fall.
Unable to return to the Vic Matthews meet is 2010 bronze medalist Leslie Sexton, who will be one of the top women in the Scotiabank Waterfront Half-Marathon on Sunday morning. Sexton is "very excited to race," citing Scotiabank as "an important step towards my marathon debut in the fall of 2012." She will be just one of a half-dozen LRDC teammates racing in Toronto, a group that includes 2011 Forest City Half-Marathon champion Matt Suda. Both Sexton and Suda used the September Springbank Half as a dress rehearsal for this event, the first of two fall goal races that will conclude with the 2011 Canadian Cross Country Championships, in Vancouver, BC on November 26th.
Photo: Leslie Sexton en route to 3rd place finish at 2010 New Balance Vic Matthews Cross Country meet