On Saturday, May 14th, the London Runner Distance Club, along with local officials and volunteers, will host the 11th annual London 10,000m track meet, which this year will feature as both the Athletics Ontario and Ontario Masters Association 10,000m Championships. Having grown considerably since the inaugural London 10,000m in 2006, this will mark the 4th consecutive year in which the event exceeds 20 entries, and while the Women's field is singular, the Men's field promises some of the most exciting racing in the events history.
The evening will start off with 5 sections of 1,500m races. Speed River teammates Sophia Watts and Katelyn Ayers headline the Women's field, which features London based athletes Becky Pieterson, Emma Tallman, and Philippa Aukett. Likewise, Speed River headline the Men's 1,500m - led by top-seeded Christian Gravel - which includes a large contigent from the new Toronto West Athletics club.
Unfortunately, multi-time Ontario 10,000m Champion Leslie Sexton (London Runner) won't have any women to race with. She is using the event as an under-distance effort while preparing for the Ottawa Marathon at the end of May.
The Men's field features 22 competitors, with no pacers, making it the 2nd largest Men's field in London 10,000m history. Top seed Aaron Hendrikx's (Speed River) return has sparked excitement, as his 2014 duel with Sami Jibril (Newmarket Huskies) led 4 men under the existing meet record. 2-time defending Ontario Champion Jibril will look for his 3rd straight title, and will have tough competition from teammate Kevin Tree - fresh off his 29:20 PB - and Evan Esselink (Durham Dragons).
The Ontario Masters Championship race features 4 competitors: UTTC teammates Stuart Galloway and Walter Faion, along with Bill Cunliffe (Durham Dragons) and Jeremy Walsh (London Runner). Galloway has the fastest seed time coming in, while Walsh holds the home-field advantage and has raced the London 10,000m previously.
The Junior race - taking place within the larger Mens field - will see 2015 Champion Ehab El-Sandali (Toronto West Athletics), Cameron Linscott (Physi-Kult), and Sergio Raez Villanueva (Harbour Track) compete to be the 2016 Ontario Junior Champion. Joining them will be Angus Rawing of CALTAF Athletics, in Alberta. The Junior athletes will likely be targetting the World Junior standard of 31:10, perhaps inspired by Branna MacDougall's World Junior 5,000m standard run of 16:10 at the first Runners' Choice London Distance Series meet on May 1st.
While the strong field and returning athletes remind us of the 2014 London 10,000m, the cool temperatures and moderately strong winds forecast remind of 2009 when Andrew Smith (BCMP) bravely led for 24 laps at 30:00 pace, before succumbing to the kick of Derek Nakluski (TOC). When the win blows tomorrow night, 10,000m competitors ranging from absolute beginners to heroes (past Champions) will look to push the field with changes of pace, while others try to stay on their target time; at the end of the night, we hope the fans are excited by spectacular racing, while officials are putting out the fire set by fast feet burning up the track in London.
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