The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is a renowned event in the Canadian Running Series and acted as the Canadian Marathon Championships this year. The race attracts more than 25,000 athletes from across the world and this year boasted a deep elite field.
With the U.S. Olympic Trials coming up quickly, the elite field at this year’s event features a number of American women gunning for the Olympic standard of 2:26:50.
Emily Durgin, one of the American women competing at the event, told Canadian Running Magazine that this event was a stepping stone towards the U.S. Olympic Trials, as she qualified earlier this year with a half marathon time of 67:54 at the 2022 Houston Half Marathon.
“I came to Toronto to be competitive and contend for the podium, as that’s what it will take to qualify at trials come February.”
The favorite for the women’s race is Ethiopia’s Waganesh Mekasha. With a marathon personal best time of 2:22:45 and a recent win at the 2023 Ottawa Marathon earlier this year, she’s got her eyes on bettering the Toronto Waterfront Marathon course record.
The current women’s course record stands at 2:22:16, set in 2019 by Magdalyne Masai of Kenya.
“If the pacemaker runs a good pace, I hope to break the course record,” says Mekasha.
On the men’s side, several East Africans were looking to run a fast time. Elvis Kipchoge, with no relation to Eliud Kipchoge, is looking to better his 2:10:21 he ran earlier this year at the Vienna Marathon. He is not one to discount with a 59:15 personal best in the half marathon.
Adugna Bikila of Ethiopia came into the race with the fastest personal best marathon time of 2:05:52 from last year’s Seville Marathon and was certainly a favorite.
Podium Sweep For The Ethiopian Women
The Ethiopian runners dominated the women’s race.
A group of five Ethiopian runners came through the half marathon point, with a sixth not far behind.
The group of five was made up of Buze Diriba Kejela, Fozya Jemal Amid, Meseret Gebre, Afrea Godfay, and race favorite Waganesh Mekashsa.
Coming through the 30k mark, Gebre began to fall off the group.
At the finish, it would be a podium sweep for Ethiopia. Crossing the line first was Buze Diriba Kejela in 2:23:11 (3:24/km). Kejela would edge out race favorite Mekasha, who came in one second behind in 2:23:12.
Godfay would complete the podium just four seconds behind Kejela in 2:23:15.
Caroline Pomerleau would be the first Canadian woman across the line and would take the title of Canadian Champion after finishing in 2:34:44 (3:41/km).
Elvis Kipchoge Upsets Race Favorite
The men’s race was fast from the gun.
A group of five broke away early in the race and came through the half marathon point together at 1:02:32, averaging a 2:56/km pace.
The group comprised Alfred Kipchirchir and Elvis Kipchoge of Kenya, Adugna Bikila, Yohans Mekasha, and Abdela Gemeda Godana of Ethiopia.
It wasn’t until the 35k mark that Kipchoge had a surge in pace that his other four competitors could not match.
His gap continued to grow all the way to the finish line, and he broke the tape in 2:09:20 (3:04/km), 1:05 ahead of the next runner.
Second place was race favorite Adugna Bikila, who completed the course in 2:10:26. Kenya’s Alfred Kipchirchir rounded out the podium thirty seconds behind Bikila in 2:10:56.
Thomas Broatch of British Columbia took home the Canadian Championship title as the first Canadian finisher. He was sixth overall and ran a time of 2:16:25 (3:14/km).