Wednesday, June 30 2010 - Superb Fields at 1500m Night Help Set Canadian Record
If you want to see high performance 1500s in Canada, London is proving itself the place to be. Says RCLDS meet director Steve Weiler: "within the past week, we've had the fastest Senior 1500m run in Canada this year by Taylor Milne, the fastest Junior 1500m in Canada by Jeremy Rae, and a new Canadian Youth 1500m record by Rob Denault. The support of the top Ontario clubs is making London THE place to run fast in Canada; we're fortunate to be in such a position.” Both Denault and Rae ran their times on Friday night at the RCLDS 1500m night, perhaps the deepest non-championship 1500 in the country with 25 men under and 24 women under . With a fast track, perfect conditions, and rabbits for the top heats, it was a great night to run fast, and the athletes took full advantage of it.
The standout performance of the meet was by Newmarket’s Rob Denault. After winning OFSAA Gold in the 1500 here in London, he returned to TD Stadium on Friday to set a new National Youth Record at the RCLDS 1500m night. Denault ran a nearly 5 second PB to cross the line in 3:45.87, well under the previous official record of . He was also faster than Kevin Sullivan at the same age, who ran 3:46.52 in 1991 (though this mark was never ratified as a record).
Denault had this to say about the race: "I ran this race last year and knew it would be fast so we had it on our schedule as a final tune-up before Moncton. I’m lucky to have a strong club to train with and my coach Derek Hackshaw thought I could make the Junior Standard so that was the goal. I knew the Youth Record was somewhere around 3:47 low but we were really focussed on hitting the standard so we had a chance for the World team…Everyone just wanted to go fast so we used the speed of the pacers to get us out quick and everyone gave it all to bring it home....PBs everywhere and lucky for me bonus of the Youth Record. If you want to go fast get to this series and you’ve got a chance to PB and maybe even get a record!"
Denault’s record was good for a fourth place finish. The winner was Anthony Berkis of TOC in a new PB of 3:42.81. Berkis pulled away from most of the field with a very fast 400, but over the final straight he was still fighting to hold off a fast-closing Jeremy Rae, who finished just 0.05 seconds back in 3:42.86, the fastest Canadian Junior 1500m of this year and a 3 second PB for Rae.
The women’s heat was won by Jessica Vanhie of the London Western Track Club, currently a student at Guelph. Jessica slipped under the barrier with a 4:29.35, followed closely by Guelph team-mate Nadine Frost. Like the men’s race, the women’s race featured some outstanding performances by young athletes. The third woman, 15 year old Jamie Phelan of the Laurel Creek Track Club, ran a big PB of 4:31.16, the second fastest Canadian youth 1500 this year. She was closely followed by another youth runner, Karley Rempel, 4th in 4:31.32. With 13 of the top 15 women setting new PB’s, it was clearly a great set-up for all these runners. Top London Runners were Laura Walker in 5:01.47, Emily Yungblut in 5:05.23, and Kaitlyn Komarnicky in 5:05.42
For London Runner athletes, the focus was on the men’s B heat, which featured club athletes Aaron Hendrikx, Ryan Huff, Kyle O’Neill, and Jeremy Walsh. With Ben Procter and Rob Kitz acting as rabbits, half the runners on the start line were from the London training group. The rabbits went to 1000m in a fast 2:35, but still the field stayed tightly bunched. Alastair Brown, the top seed, was the strongest over the final lap and went on to win the heat in 3:52.46. But the big surprise was Grade 11 Aaron Hendrikx, who charged down the final straight to take second in 3:52.90 – a 5 second PB, and the 3rd fastest youth 1500 in Canada this year. Just behind Hendrikx was team-mate Ryan Huff in a PB 3:53.07. Kyle O’Neill also PB’d with a 3:55.24. In the third and fourth heats, two more London Runner juniors, Pat Hartman and Eric Barry gave the 4 minute barrier a scare with times of 4:01.40 and 4:01.68, respectively.
In all, it was a great night of racing, with 7 heats of men and 5 heats of women all featuring great competition. The weekend was an inspiring one for London Runner athletes, who set a slew of new PBs on Friday night and then on Sunday had the first monthly London Runner’s Lunch, where we got to meet and listen to Canada’s first sub-four miler Dave Bailey.Listening to Dave talk about his own accomplishments as a world class miler, and about being in a training group with other top runners like Bruce Kid and Bill Crothers, was a fantastic reminder of what Canadian distance runners can accomplish. As the RCLDS meets continue to grow, we hope that we can provide domestic competitive opportunities to allow current and future runners to work towards that same world class level.
Thursday, June 3 2010 - Record Setting Runs at the London Distance Classic
London track fans were treated last night to the fastest 800m and 3000m races on Canadian soil of 2010. The London Distance Classic proved itself as one of Canada`s top track & field events with an incredible night of racing.In all four events – men`s and women`s 800m and 3000m – the winners set new TD Waterhouse Stadium records.
The afternoon`s thundershowers had passed through by the time the meet began, and conditions were very good for the start of the meet. The women`s 800 metre runners toed the line first and set the tone for the evening with a record-setting run. From the gun, two-time National 1500m Champion Hillary Stellingwerff set a blistering fast opening pace. She held the lead through 700m, but over the final stretch it was this year`s Collegiate 600m Champion, Melissa Bishop, who charged passed Stellingwerff to take the win in a stadium record time of 2:06.12. With five women finishing under 2:08, this was the deepest 800m race that London has ever seen. And, what’s more, the top five finishers in this race were faster at each position than the top five at last year’s national championships.
Not to be outdone, the men were equally aggressive in their 800, with 2008 Olympian Taylor Milne taking the lead and towing the field through a very fast opening lap. Unlike Stellingwerff, Milne would hang on to take the win, but not without drama. A fast closing Kyle Smith, of Toronto, came within inches of victory as the two finished in times of 1:48.56 and 1:48.57, respectively. The rest of the field finished two seconds back, tightly bunched in a battle for third place. In the end, it was Kingston`s Matt Hulse – the 2010 Collegiate 1000m champion – who took the final medal in a time of 1:50.86.
The women`s 3000 was display of compete domination by Michigan`s Nicole Bush, one of America`s top steeplechasers. Bush separated herself immediately from the rest of the field and pulled away steadily for a commanding win in 9:23, 16 seconds under the old stadium record. Some 200 metres behind, Samantha Beattie of Guelph took 2nd in 9:59, while Leslie Sexton of Queen`s University was 3rd in 10:04.
In the men`s 3000 was the final race and the strangest race of the night. Despite a top-notch field, the leaders began with a pedestrian first lap, much slower than anyone expected. Then, after 400m, Kyle Dekker of Tri City Track Club injected a burst of pace, stringing out the field that had stayed closely bunched through the first lap. Dekker pushed on and pulled away from the field to establish a significant lead over second place. But all the while, 2009 National Steeplechase Champion Rob Watson hung back and waited. Only over the second half of the race, as Dekker began to struggle, did Watson show what he was capable of. Over the final kilometre, Watson poured it on and blew past Dekker to finish in a new stadium record time of 8:11. Dekker paid the price for his early bravery as he faded to fourth in a time of 8:27, behind Windsor`s Dave Weston and J.P. Mallette who took second and third in 8:21 and 8:24.
Top performances by London Runner athletes included: Jeremy Walsh, who ran a huge PB to finish 14th in the very deep 800m field in a time of 1:54.96; Becky Pieterson, who ran a strong 10:29 for 10th in the women’s 3000; and Ryan Huff, who finished 8th in the men’s 3000 in a time of 8:36. These three are all part of the growing senior training group at London Runner and have helped establish the group as the pre-eminent distance club in the city.
With four new records set in the span of two hours last night, this is an exciting time for track & field in London. Steve Weiler of the London Runner Distance Club has been organizing the Runner`s Choice London Distance Series for 6 years now, and as it continues to grow it offers Londoners the chance to see firsthand Canada`s top runners in action.