Both champions can expect to face strong competition, however, in their attempts to defend their crowns. “Both the Men’s and Women’s fields are the best we’ve had,” said Brookes. “Over the past 5 years, our event has improved dramatically -- in both quantity and quality. And this year’s fields are our deepest and best yet.” Seboka’s strongest challenge is likely to come from Kenyan Lydia Cheromei and fellow-Ethiopian Amane Gobena. A winner of the World Junior Cross Country back in 1991, the 32 year old Cheromei made her marathon debut in Amsterdam last October, where she won in 2:25:57. She followed that up with a sizzling 68:14 at the Ras Al Khaimah Half in February, a 2nd place finish in the prestigious Rotterdam Marathon in April [2:28:09], and another victory at the Bogota Half [72:29] at altitude on August 2nd. Gobena is a great example of the exciting, young, new talent that Toronto Waterfront has built a reputation for attracting. The 23 year-old began 2009 with a learning experience in Houston in January. After sticking with eventual winner Teyba Erkesso until almost 30k she faded to finish 5th in 2:32:07, while Erkesso raced onto victory in 2:24:18. Amane then came back with a cracking 68:16 half in Ras Al Khaimah in February [2 seconds back of Cheromei], followed by a strong, 2nd place marathon finish in Los Angeles in late May in 2:26:53, where she held onto winner Tatiana Petrova until the closing stages. Cognizant of the fact that the fastest women’s time ever run on Canadian soil is Lidia Simon’s 2:26:01 from the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Edmonton, Scotiabank is again offering an additional C$25,000 bonus if this year’s winner can better that mark and set a new All-Comers record.
Mungara’s challenge will also come from a combination of experience and youth. Ethiopian Gashaw Melese Asfaw and Kenyans Philip Manyim and Daniel Kiprugut Too, provide the experience. Melese, who turns 31 years old on the Friday of Race Weekend, was 6th at Boston this year and 4th last year. Inbetween, he placed 7th in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, won Shanghai in a Course Record 2:09:28, and was 4th in Dubai in 2:10:59. His best is a 2:08:03 that he recorded in winning Paris in 2006. Similarly, Manyim knows what it’s like to run in and win big races. His PR of 2:07:41 comes from his Berlin victory in 2005. More recently, the 31 year old Manyim was 2nd in Eindhoven last Fall in 2”09:31 and 9th in Rome in 2:11 this Spring, after sticking with the 2:07 winner, Benjamin Kiptoo, until 35km. After several seasons of running in the 2:13/2:15 range, the 31-year-old Too took his PR down to 2:10 last Fall in Koln, and then to an impressive 2:08:38 in Paris in April.
Surrounding Mungara, Melese, Manyim and Too on this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Start Line will be a pack of hungry new marathoners and debutants, led by Joseph Maregu and Sammy Mwangi. After running 6 sub-61 minute half marathons, Maregu made his 42km debut in Vienna in April -- a 2:09:25, good for third. On debut in Toronto, the 26-year-old Mwangi showed what he’s capable of with an impressive 59:55 at the Berlin Half on April 5th. Together, veterans and debutants will be chasing John Kelai’s Canadian All-comers mark of 2:09:30 from Waterfront ‘07; a new mark and a sub 2:09:00 will earn the Men’s winner an additional $25,000 bonus from Scotiabank.
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront will be celebrating it’s 20th year as an event on September 27th . It began as a Half marathon in 1990, with Joan Benoit Samuelson as women’s winner of the first edition. The full marathon is 10 years old, beginning in the year 2000. Since then it has grown rapidly. A total of 20,000 participants, who will raise more than $1.5 million for 99 local charities, are expected in the event as a whole this year; a record entry of almost 4,000 are expected in the marathon, an IAAF Silver Label event for the second year. “We’re just hoping for a good day,” said Brookes. “The prospect of new Course and All-comers records for both men and women is very real. It would make the anniversary extra special, and when you put together athletes of the caliber we have this year, a lot of good things can happen!”
Complete Start Lists will be announced September 8th. Further information and last-minute registration still available at www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com