A pair of women each broke a 28-year-old record at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, while an Ethiopian runner clocked the fastest marathon time on Canadian soil.
Lanni Marchant of London, Ont., finished the marathon in 2:28:00, just over a half-minute ahead of Krista DuChene of Brantford, Ont., who clocked a race time of 2:28:32.
Both times beat Sylvia Ruegger’s previous record of 2:28:36, which had been set in Houston in 1985.
The first Canadian male to cross the finish line was Eric Gillis, of Guelph, Ont., with a time of 2:11:49, about 20 seconds shy of his personal best. He completed the race fifth overall.
"Somewhere in the last five kilometres I really slowed down," Gillis said. "I had the best first half of a race I have ever had.
"I had amazing pacers that took me to 30 km on Canadian record pace, and today showed me that I am going to have to get stronger for that last 12 km."
Deressa Chimsa, a 26-year-old male runner from Ethiopia, managed to pull off the fastest marathon run ever on Canadian soil at 2:07:05.
'Take control, stay patient'
Marchant, a native of London, Ont., will take home $8,000, plus a $28,000 bonus for her record-breaking time.
"I am still in shock," Marchant said following the race.
Marchant placed 44th at the women's marathon at the world track and field championships in Moscow last summer after experiencing significant cramping in the left side of her body.
She says she thought about her experience in Moscow during the Toronto race.
"My calves didn't cramp as bad as the worlds, but they definitely started to hurt... After the first 10 kilometres, I thought, 'OK, you are feeling alright. Stay with the group until 20 km and then 20 km came and then 30 km,' " Marchant said.
"I guess about 33 km or 34 km in I kind of pulled away from Krista and I was thinking, 'I have to keep going.' The worlds was in the back of mind, and with a flip of a switch things can go wrong. So I thought 'take control, stay patient.' "
Prior to the Moscow event, Canada had not had a woman run the distance at a world championship since Tara Quinn-Smith in 2009. Marchant and DuChene represent a resurgence in the sport among Canadian women.
DuChene, who clocked a personal best at the Toronto event, said she was happy to be running alongside Marchant through most of the race.
"It's ideal — someone right beside you pushing you," she said. "It's phenomenal for women in this sport. I have no regrets, I left everything out there."
The weather in Toronto on Sunday morning was sunny but cool, with temperatures hovering around 5 C at the beginning of the road race.