TORONTO. March 30th. Harry's Spring Run Off 8K has seen some illustrious names over its 31 year history in High Park, and this year will be no exception as new-Canadian Jon Brown of Victoria is all set to take on the best of "the East". After winning Harry's Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K on March 8th, he'll be going for "the Harry's double" and bragging rights from coast-to-coast. Brown placed 4th in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic marathons in a GB vest, before becoming a Canadian citizen in June 2005, and a full-fledged Canadian athlete in January 2008. A veteran, regular sub-2:10 performer, he most-recently ran a 2:12:27 at the prestigious Fukuoka Marathon in Japan in December, making him Canada's #1 men's marathoner by some distance. "Brownie" has a marathon PR of 2:09:31 run at London in 2005, and a Half Marathon best of 61:49 from the Great North Run in 1997.
Over the years, the rolling, scenic High Park course of Toronto's oldest, continuously-run road race has hosted some of the world's greats, including Kenyan legends Daniel Komen, Sammy Kipketer and Sally Barsosio, Irish Olympians John Treacy and John Doherty, England's Eamon Martin and Jill Hunter, and The USAs Ed Eyestone. It has seen some epic battles on Spring Road Hill between Canadian distance stars like Peter Butler, Dave Edge, Mike Dyon and Dave Reid, Slivia Ruegger, Anne Marie Malone, Sandra Ansheutz, Nancy Tinari and May Allison. Daniel Komen still holds the men's course record, a stunning 22:35 from 1994, and Jill Hunter has the women's mark, and equally impressive 25:56, from 1990.
Brown comfortably won Harry's Spring Run Off 8K Vancouver on March 8th, in 23:58, showing his versatility and class over the shorter distance. To do the "Harry's double", he'll have to battle it out with Canada Running Series '08 champion Josephat Ongeri -- a Kenyan now living in Milton -- UTTCs Paul Chafe, and Montreal's Bagdad Rachem. Last April, Ongeri placed 2nd in 23:57, so the race should be a close one!
In the women's race, last year's champion, Kenyan Lucy Njeri will be back on the line to defend her title. Toronto's Nicole Stevenson and Kingston's Emily Tallen and Paula Wiltse should provide her main challenges. Tallen was 2nd to Njeri last Spring [28:53 to 28:08], with Wiltse coming 4th last year [29:37].
This year's Harry's Spring Run Off 8K and 5K sold out several weeks ago to record crowds of 2,500 in the 8K and 2,000 in the 5K. Combined, the 4,500 participants are expected to raise more than $200,000 for prostate cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital.
While it's too late to register for this year, it's not to late to come out and cheer; and High Park provides one of the very best spectator venues, with the various loops the runners take. The 8K starts at 10am and the 5K at 11:15am this Saturday, April 4th. Race details, times and course maps are at http://www.canadarunningseries.com/springrunoff/csroDET.htm
For a history of the Spring Run Off, see CanadaRunningSeries.com.
Jon Brown (L) and Lucy Njeri at the Harry's Spring Run-Off 8k to fight Prostate Cancer Photos: CRS