Mind, Motion & Matter

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Running with an Ethiopian Legend

 Miruts, Michal & Me

Lynn Kobayashi, Miruts Yifter, Michal Kapral, the Joggler

Lynn Kobayashi, Miruts Yifter and Michal “The Joggler” Kapral

Last year I boldly laid claim to getting the Ethiopian community in Toronto running. This year, the Ethiopians in Toronto are clearly on an upward trajectory led by Ethiopian running giant, Miruts Yifter. How was it that I was able to convince my Ethiopian friends that taking part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon races was a must? The short answer is orphan sponsorship. Double-gold medal Olympian Miruts Yifter has embraced the cause of the over 1 million orphaned children in Ethiopia. AND joggling in Miruts footsteps was Michal Kapral “the Joggler” who dedicated his successful Guinness World Record attempt to P2P Canada’s orphan sponsorship program.

Leading up to the race we had fun. An interview with Michal gave me the chance to meet up with Michal and Miruts Yifter. Earlier, there was a training session in Riverdale Park where Miruts led the team through some stretching and offered training tips. The interviewer was running late but our time hanging out in the hotel lobby was well-spent. There was a steady stream of elite marathon runners passing by including a few Ethiopians.

Tariku Jufar with Miruts Yifter

Tariku Jufar with Miruts Yifter

This was fun because the Ethiopian athletes kept doing double-takes in delight when they spotted Miruts. I passed my cell phone to Miruts so he could see the YouTube footage of his gold medal 10K and he showed this to the young Ethiopians. When Miruts mentioned that this took place in 1980, the reaction of the two youngsters betrayed the fact that they had not yet been born. This made for an all-round chuckle.

The group also discussed the speed of Miruts last 400 in this race, an astonishing 49 seconds. Apparently, this is an Ethiopian record of sorts for the final lap of a 10K. Miruts of course is nicknamed “The Shifter” for his ability to shift into this otherworldly gear.

Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia finished second in 2:08:36 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th, 2014. I finished first in the 55-59 age-category and very much enjoyed having my son and husband take part too. Race morning was finished off nicely with a post-race celebration at Sheba Restaurant where we enjoyed a buffet breakfast of Ethiopian and Canadian goodies. And of course, some great coffee!

Steven Deutscher-Kobayashi, Lynn Kobayashi, Pat Deutscher

Me and my family

Our amazing team of elite fundraisers raised over $35,000 for children orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia. While a few of the young runners were ahead of me in the race, many were not, which led me to challenge this contingent of young runners to make sure they trained next year to ensure they beat me.

Young Ethiopians

Trash talking with the youngsters

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Around the Bay 30K

Kudos and congratulations to all those who took part in this historic road race today.  It is the Ontario road runner’s equivalent of a season-opener.

While out on Friday we ran into an acquaintance who asked if I was running on Sunday.  I drew a blank.  It was only on Saturday morning that it struck me that this was the weekend of one of Canada’s foremost long-distance races, the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton.  How could I forget?! Many of those who have been training diligently through the winter have been driven by the goal of racing this 30K.

Last year a record I had established in 2006 was broken.  A new course (and Canadian) record for 30K of 2:07 was set by Jennifer Ditchfield.  My goal when I set the record was to run under 2 hours and 10 minutes.  I was disappointed to run 2:12 and that did not feel easy.

Around the Bay on a warmer day.

My friend Michal Kapral, a.k.a. the joggler jumped in around 25K and ran with me for awhile.  I told him that I was fading and wondered out loud whether any masters women were closing in on me.  He immediately started running backwards and let me know that I was in danger of being picked off.  That is when I learned that sometimes it is better not to know.  Ignorance is more blissful than having a set of eyes in the back of one’s head.  The rival masters runner did pass me and it felt worse knowing that this was a possibility so far in advance.

Michal at one time was considering trying to set a Guiness record for the backwards marathon.  He holds or held, the record for a marathon pushing a baby jogger and for running an entire marathon while juggling three balls.  He has also won the Toronto marathon in a time of 2:31.

With my plan to run Boston next year, it is doubtful that I can do the 30K as it is my view that many a runner has left their Boston best, down by the bay. It is a challenging 30K route that when raced to the full, is not far off the effort of running a marathon. With 3-4 weeks separating it from Boston, there is not much time to recover to put your best foot forward at Boston. This has been the subject of ongoing debate among long distance racers and their coaches over the past century.