TORONTO — In exciting races which featured multiple late-race lead changes, Ethiopia’s Yihunilign Adane and Kenya’s Antonina Kwambai won Sunday’s (16) TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2:07:18 and 2:23:20, respectively, a World Athletics Elite Label road race.
Behind them, Trevor Hofbauer (2:11:00) and Malindi Elmore (2:25:14) won the Athletics Canada national titles and finished fifth and fourth overall, respectively. The race returned to the streets of Toronto after nearly a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic; about 22,000 athletes took part in the marathon, half-marathon and 5-K, combined.
Race director Alan Brookes had his pacemakers target the course and Canadian all-comers records of 2:05:00 and 2:22:16 (both those marks were set here in 2019). The men’s race settled down a bit after an overzealous 2:51 for the first kilometer. Read More: The 2022 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Results
By the time the 5-K split was hit in 14:40, a pack of seven had formed behind two pacemakers: Kenyans Kiprono Kipkemoi, Enock Onchari, Felix Kandie, Barselius Kipyego, and Felix Kibitok, and Ethiopians, Adane and Kebede Tulu Wami. The pace was still ambitious: they were on pace for a sub-2:04 finish time.
That pack of seven held together through halfway, although the pace slowed. Their halfway split was still a credible (1:02:27), and finishing with a sub-2:05 was still possible.
But in the second half, the pace slowed further and the athletes’ competitive instincts took over. It was man-to-man racing now, and nobody was focused on the course record and the special CAD 15,000 bonus on offer.
At 30-K (1:29:40) only Wami had been dropped. About seven minutes later, Kandie was the first to show his cards. Wearing a white top, black shorts and a black watch cap to fight off the morning chill, the 35 year-old Kenyan put in a mighty surge. The lead pack quickly broke up, and at 35-K Kandie had an 11-second lead.
“I wanted to run a sub-2:07 tempo,” Kandie told reporters after the race. “I was felling well.”
But trouble was brewing for Kandie.
“He’s weary,” said British coach Geoff Wightman, commentating on the race broadcast. “He’s fatigued; he’s not safe.”
Adane wasn’t worried about Kandie, and he was sticking with his plan.
“I wasn’t too worried because there was wind and the roadway was not easy,” Adane said. “I knew I would catch him.”
Indeed he did. At around 39 kilometers, Adane blew past Kandie and built a 13-second lead by the 40-K mark. He would win by over a minute, collecting his second marathon win of the year (he also won in Barcelona last May).
“I am very very happy,” Adane said in his post-race broadcast interview with the help of a translator. “I could have run a little better, but I am very very satisfied.”
Kandie was hurting and was also passed by compatriot Kiprono Kipkemoi, who got second in 2:08:24 to Kandie’s 2:08:44. Onchari got fourth in 2:10:07.
Only a short way behind, Hofbauer was running alone and on his way to his third Canadian marathon title. He had overcome a stitch at around the 27-kilometer mark where his key rival, Rory Linkletter, had briefly taken the lead.
“Around 27 kilometers I had a little bit of an issue that I was working through,” Hofbauer explained. He added: “I just tried to stay strong.”
Although he didn’t run as fast as he did in 2019 (2:09:51), he nonetheless enjoyed a convincing victory. He saw today’s race as another building block for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“All eyes are on Paris,” said Hofbauer. “That’s what I care about.”
The plot of the women’s race had even more twists. Defending champion and course record holder Magdalyne Masai got into distress in the first half of the race, and was 12 seconds behind the lead pack at halfway (1:10:01).
Three Ethiopians –Bedatu Hirpa, Tseginesh Mekonnin, and Geleta Burka– had two Kenyans for company, Kwambai and Ruth Chebitok. Masai fell even farther back by 25-K where she trailed the leaders by 20 seconds and appeared to be out of the race.
Remarkably, Masai staged a rally between 25 and 35-K. By 30-K she was in fourth place, and in the 32nd kilometer she passed Burka and assumed the lead. She had a 22-second lead by 35-K and it seemed like she was not only going to enjoy another victory here, but would break her course record as well. She was on pace for a 2:21:33 finish which would mean a CAD 15,000 bonus in addition to the first place CAD 25,000 prize money.
Kwambai, who was back in third place and 44 seconds behind Masai, wasn’t worried. Her primary target was running a good time. She was in the zone and her race was going well.
“I don’t have any pressure because it’s my first time in Toronto,” she said. “I was working on my personal best.”
The closing kilometers of the race were not kind to Masai. She slowed dramatically, and four women would pass her before the finish. Kwambai was the first. She caught Masai before the 40-K mark, got behind the male pacemaker, and scooted to victory in 2:23:20, a 60-second personal best.
“I’m feeling good; it’s amazing,” Kwambai said in her post-race broadcast interview. “I started to pick-up, like, 30 kilometers. I pushed hard.”
Chebitok, who was only in fifth position at 35-K, moved up to second by the finish in 2:23:58. Burka got third in 2:24:31.
Although she slowed in the second half, Elmore moved up from seventh place at half (1:11:39) to fourth at the finish. In her first-ever marathon on home soil, she not only won the Athletics Canada title in 2:25:14 but became the first Canadian woman to win both national 1500m and marathon titles during a career.
“I heard my name so many times,” said the 42 year-old Elmore, who was able to run most of the way with a pack of men. “It was funny because at one time we were running in a pack of guys and a guy said, ‘I’m just going to pretend my name is Malindi.'” She added: “I had lots of people out there; it was awesome.”
Dayna Pidhoresky, who won the Canadian title here in 2019, finished seventh overall in 2:30:58, and was the runner-up in the national championships. Sasha Gollish, 40, got third in 2:31:40, a career best.
PHOTO: Yihunilign Adane of Ethiopia wins the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2:07:18 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
PHOTO: Antonina Kwambai of Kenya wins the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon in a personal best 2:23:20 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
PHOTO: Trevor Hofbauer and Malindi Elmore won the the 2022 Athletics Canada marathon titles at the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)