The 10K Dream Team Challenge: Pairing Elite Athletes with Charities for Good

See the list of participating elites.

This year, Canada’s largest running weekend will feature a unique opportunity for the world’s top runners and Ottawa’s greatest charities to do some good.

The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend hosts the inaugural 10k Dream Team Challenge on May 26, an altruistic competition between 16 athletes who will raise funds for local causes as they run.

The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, Gracefield, Quebec’s Camp Misquah, and the Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario Canada will choose from a roster of champions from Africa, America, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada to make up their dream teams.

The charities can win up to $3,000 based on their team’s performance, while the athletes will win prize money based on when they get drafted while competing for a prize purse of over $60,000.

“We wanted to find a way to create a connection between our elite runners and the community,” says Manny Rodrigues, Elite Athlete Coordinator. “Each May, the world’s fastest runners come to race on our streets. We felt it was important to try to make the community aware of who these athletes are and what they can do.”

Each charity will pick their team from a small roster of International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Gold Label athletes: seven men and seven women, and two “wildcard” athletes from the registered elite field. Their complete bios and stats can be found below.

The charity-chosen troupes will accumulate points based their on finishing positions. First place gets 1 point, second place gets 2 points, and so on. The team with the lowest cumulative score wins, earning both the athletes and the team’s charity money.

Choosing between 16 incredibly high-calibre runners won’t be easy. Some of the draft picks have already burst out of the gate this year. In January, 24-year-old Hicham Amghar won the Marrakesh Half Marathon with a time of 1:00:23, and in March, 29-year-old American Laura Thweatt, placed first at the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8k.

The runners available for the draft range from their teens to late 30s, with a mix of veterans and new faces. Nineteen-year-old Andamlak Berta from Ethiopia, who holds a personal best of 27:08 in the 10,000 m, will make his Canadian racing debut, while the senior of the bunch is three-time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis. At 38, this Antigonish native placed 10th at the Rio Olympics and is the reigning 10K Canadian champion, a race he won at the Ottawa 10k in 30:09 last year.

Women to watch will be Kenyan 32-year-old Edith Chelimo, who has a 10k personal best time of 31:07, her compatriot 25-year-old Gladys Kimaina who won last year’s Paderborn 10k in 31:15, and Rachel Cliff, 30, who just ran a Canadian record-breaking half marathon in Woodlands, Texas last month with a time of 1:10:08.

Who would you pick for your dream team? To find out who the charities pick, tune in to the 10K Dream Team Challenge draft at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16. Then, ten days later, the IAAF gold-label Ottawa 10K will blast off during the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, and the dream will become reality.

2018 10K Dream Team Elites

Amghar, Hicham. Morocco, age 24

10K Personal Best 28:22, 2017
1st Marrakesh, Morocco Half Marathon, 1:00:23, 2018
1st Agadir, Morocco 10k, 28:22, 2017
3rd Bolzano Italy BOclassic, 29:08, 2017
1st Cassino, Italy’s World University Championship Cross Country, 33:46, 2016

This 24-year-old university student could be a dark horse in the Ottawa 10K. He has a personal best of 28:22 for the distance, which he achieved when he won the 2017 Agadir 10k race. Most recently he was the winner of the 2018 Marrakech Half Marathon in an excellent time of 1:00:23. Although he is self-coached, he trains with veteran international distance runner, Mustapha El Aziz.

Berta, Andamlak Belihu. Ethiopia, 19

10,000m Personal Best 27:08, 2017
4th Yangzhou, China Half Marathon, 1:01:44, 2018
2nd New Delhi, India Half Marathon, 59:51, 2017

Berta was a controversial selection to the Ethiopian IAAF World Championships team. But the Ethiopian Federation no doubt sent him to London to gain experience. Just 18-years-old, he finished 10th in the 10,000m with a time of 27:08.94. Later that year, he finished 2nd in the 2017 New Delhi Half Marathon with a superb time of 59:51. That was his debut for the distance. Earlier this year he finished 2nd in the Ethiopian championships 10,000m race then flew to Yangzhou, China to compete in the Yangzhou Half Marathon five days later. He was 5th in that IAAF Gold Label race (1:01:44).

Boyd, Steve. Canada, 54.

Boyd is entering his ninth season as head coach of the Queen’s Cross Country teams.A member of the Queen’s Track & Field Hall of Fame, Boyd is a five-time national champion in track, cross-country and road racing. He was also a member of the Queen’s cross country team from 1982 to 1987, helping lead Queen’s to two national titles in 1983 and 1984. He was the team’s top finisher in both years, finishing 2nd in 1983 and 4th in 1984. In 1982, running as an individual in his first season, he finished 5th at the national championships, winning the Alfie Pierce Award as Queen’s top rookie athlete.

Chelimo, Edith. Kenya, 32

10K Personal Best 31:07, 2016
2nd Berlin, Germany Half Marathon, 1:08:57, 2017
1st Iten, Kenya 10K, 32:07, 2017
1st Oelde, Germany 10K, 31:36, 2016

One of Kenya’s most experienced road racers, Chelimo has a personal best 10K time of 31:07, which she recorded in Brunssum, Netherlands in 2016. But she is capable of running much, much faster at this distance. Indeed, she won the 2017 Cardiff Half Marathon last November in a superb time of 1:05:52 passing the 10-K mark in 30:56. That is just one second off her compatriot, Gladys Cherono’s Ottawa 10K record. More recently Chelimo finished 5th in the 2018 Houston Half Marathon.

Cliff, Rachel. Canada, 30

10K Personal Best 32:41, 2018
10,000m Personal Best 31:56, 2018
1st Woodlands, Texas Half Marathon, 1:10:08, 2018
3rd Vancouver Sun Run, 32:42, 2018
3rd Ottawa 10K, 33:35, 2017

Cliff has been a consistent distance runner for several years. But the Vancouver-based member of the BC Endurance Project has had a brilliant 2018 season already. In March she smashed Lanni Marchant’s Canadian half marathon record in Woodlands, Texas with 1:10:08. More recently, she finished 3rd in the Vancouver Sun Run 10K in 32:41 just a week after returning from the Commonwealth Games where she was 9th in the 10,000m (32:11). Last year she finished both the Vancouver Sun Run and the Ottawa 10K with a time of 33:35, finishing 3rd and 5th at each, respectively.

Hasnaoui, Hajiba. Morocco, 30

10K Personal Best 31:27, 2016
1st Marrakesh, Morocco Half Marathon, 1:10:43, 2018
1st Rabat, Morocco Half Marathon, 1:13:51, 2018
4th Tan-Tan, Morocco 10K, 32:47, 2017
2nd Casablanca, Morocco Memorial Rahal 10K, 33:09, 2016

Hasnaoui has competed as a short- and middle-distance runner since 2011. Last year, the 30-year-old member of the Moroccan Royal Army Guard began to focus only on 10K and half marathons. She ran her personal best in March 2016 at the Casablanca, Morocco 10K with a time of 31:27, and has primarily competed at home with only a few races in Europe and in Brazil. The Ottawa 10K will be her Canadian debut, and this June she’ll represent Morocco at the XVIII Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Spain.

Kimaina, Gladys. Kenya, 25

10K Personal Best 31:15, 2017
1st Paderborn, Germany 10K, 31:15, 2017
3rd Le Puy-en-Velay, France 15K, 49:21, 2017

Another member of RunCzech, the Prague-based management group, Kimaina won the 2017 Paderborn Ostelauf (Germany) 10K in a personal best time of 31:15. This was her debut in the distance. She trains in Kenya with the likes of Vivian Cheruiyot, the 2018 London Marathon champion and 2016 Olympic 5000m silver medalist. Kimaina, an officer in the Kenya Defence Forces, is married and has two children. Earlier this year she finished 7th at the Prague Half Marathon in a time of 1:10:40.

Kimeli, Benard. Kenya, 22

10K Personal Best 27:10, 2017
1st Prague, Czech Republic Half Marathon, 59:47, 2018
1st Utrecht, Netherlands 10K, 27:57, 2017
1st Prague, Czech Republic Grand Prix 10K, 27:10, 2017
1st Paderborn, Germany 10K, 27:18, 2017

As an unheralded young man Kimeli won the 2017 Prague 10k in an eye-catching 27:10, the equal 7th fastest time ever recorded on a legal course. Competing for Adidas, his 2018 is off to a tremendous start winning the Prague Half Marathon in 59:47 on April 7th. Not bad for someone who only raced the distance once before! In April, Kimeli signed a contract with Team Fujitsu in Japan where he will be based for the remainder of 2018. Kimeli trained to be a park ranger with the Kenya Wildlife Service and served at Tsavo National Park and Rimoi National Reserve until deciding to focus on professional running.

Kipyatich, Abraham. Kenya, 25

10K Personal Best 27:40, 2016
6th Prague, Czech Republic Half Marathon, 1:00:08, 2018
2nd Boston Athletic Assocation Half Marathon, 1:03:22, 2016
1st Prague, Czech Republic Grand Prix 10K, 27:40, 2016
2nd Le Puy-en-Velay, France 15k, 43:20, 2016

One of Kenya’s most underestimated young runners, Kipyatich set a personal best 10K time of 27:40 in winning the 2016 Prague Grand Prix 10K. In his Half Marathon debut, he ran 60:03 for the distance. That was in 2015. Earlier this year (April 7th), he came close to that time running 60:08 to finish 6th in the Prague Half Marathon. In 2017, he became the first non-Japanese runner to be signed to Japan’s Asahi Kasei team and spent April to November there racing for the club. Earlier this month, he agreed to pace his Japanese teammates over 10,000m in the Golden Games Nobeoka. He comfortably finished the track race in 28:00.72 indicating he is in great shape. He flies to Ottawa from Japan and will return there after the race. When he is in Kenya, he is based in Iten with his wife and young child. He will return to Japan until November 2018.

Mohammed, Alia Saeed. UAE, 27

10,000m Personal Best 31:10, 2016
1st Dubai, UAE 10K, 33:07, 2017
1st Doha, Qatar 10,000m, 34:00, 2017
2nd Dubai, UAE President’s Cup 10,000m, 31:10, 2016

Alia was born Medina Kadir in Ethiopia and began her career in school like most Ethiopian runners. But in 2010 she decided to run for the United Arab Emirates, though she lives and trains in Ethiopia with noted coach Gemedu Dedefo. She ran 10,000m on the track in 31:10.25 at the Dubai President’s Cup in 2016. In 2017, she took the 5,000m silver medal at the Asian Championships a year after representing the United Arab Emirates at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She finished 23rd in the Olympic 10,000m with a time of 31:56.

Ngeno, Benard. Kenya, 21

10K Personal Best 27:43, 2018
1st Mobile, Alabama Azaelia Trail Run 10K, 27:43, 2018
1st Chesapeake, Virginia Dismal Swamp Half Marathon, 1:02:28, 2018
1st Richmond, Virginia Half Marathon, 1:03:41, 2017
2nd Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Half Marathon, 1:02:37, 2017

21 year old Benard Ngeno has already had a stellar 2018. He won this year’s Azaelia Trail Run 10K in Mobile, Alabama with a time of 27:43, his personal best and 4th fastest in the race’s history. He also came 2nd at the Charleston, South Carolina Cooper River Bridge Run (28:26) and in 1st at the Dismal Swamp Half Marathon in Chesapeake, Virginia (1:02:28).

Reda, Mohamed. Morocco, 28

10K Personal Best 29:24, 2015
10,000m Personal best 29:19, 2011
11th Tokyo, Japan Marathon, 2:09:18, 2018
2nd Marrakesh, Morocco Half Marathon, 1:00:38, 2018
6th Ottawa 10K, 29:28, 2016

Reda, a member of the Moroccan Royal Army Guard, is one of the top marathoners in his country. He competed at home from 2010 until 2015, when he won a 5,000m race in Talence, France with a time of 14:32. After that, he continued to progress and he debuted at the Daegu, South Korea Marathon in 2017, where he finished 3rd with a time of 2:09:50. Since then, he’s set his goals high: to break the Moroccan national record for the marathon, currently held by Jaouad Gharib with a time of 2:05:27, and to win at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Qatar and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His year is off to a good start with a 2nd place finish at the Marrakesh Half Marathon (1:00:38) in January.

Tanui, Angela. Kenya, 26

10K Personal Best 31:51, 2014
2nd Roma-Ostia, Italy Half Marathon, 1:07:43, 2017
1st Trento, Italy Half Marathon, 1:09:27 (PB), 2016
1st Okpekpe, Nigeria Road Race (10k), 33:34, 2015

The 26-year-old Tanui has always run to support her son, and since 2014 has made waves in 10K and half marathon competitions in Africa and Europe. She grew up and trained with Peres Jepchirchir, who went on to win the Ottawa 10K in 2016. Tanui won two 10K races, in Marrakesh, Morocco and Langueux, France in 2014, and at the latter she ran her personal best time: 31:51. Since then, she has focused on long distance running and, in 2017, she ran her PB at the Vienna City Marathon in 2:26:31.

Thweatt, Laura. USA, 29

10K Personal Best 32:22, 2018
10,000m Personal Best 31:52, 2016
1st Chicago, USA Shamrock Shuffle 8K, 26:02, 2018
6th London, England Marathon, 2:25:38 (PB), 2017
4th USA National 10 mile Championships, 53:14 (PB), 2015

Thweatt, a native of Durango, Colorado, has had an illustrious career in both track and field and road running since 2011. She trains under coach Lee Troop, a three-time Australian Olympic marathoner. She was USA National Club Cross Country champion in 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 she became the USA Cross Country champion. That same year, she debuted at the TCS New York City Marathon and won 7th place in 2:28:23, ranked the top American. Last year she placed 2nd and 4th at the USA National Cross Country and 15K Championships, respectively, and won 6th at the London Marathon with a personal best time of 2:25:38.

Wodak, Natasha. Canada, 36.

Wodak set a Canadian 10,000m record (31:41.59) in Palo Alto, California in May 2015 before setting a personal best 10k time of 31:59 at the 2015 Ottawa 10km. A proven Canadian international, she has represented Canada at many international championships. At the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, she finished 24th. In 2016 she finished 22nd in the Rio Olympic 10,000m. Earlier this spring she ran her second best 10,000m time (31:50.18) to place 5th at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. For the past year, she has been coached by 1984 Olympic bronze medalist Lynn Kanuka.

Ziani, Mohamed. Morocco, 25

10K Personal Best 27:28, 2016
1st Marrakesh, Morocco Half Marathon, 1:00:28, 2017
1st Rabat, Morocco Half Marathon, 1:02:23, 2017
1st Ottawa, Canada 10k, 28:37, 2016
3rd Casablanca, Morocco 10K, 27:28, 2016

This Moroccan athlete won the 2016 Ottawa 10K in 28:37 on an unseasonably warm evening (22°C), a race that organizers put back half an hour to help alleviate the conditions. Ziani was a member of the Royal Moroccan Guard up until last year but resigned in order to focus on his running. He has a best 10K time of 27:28 recorded at the 2016 Casablanca 10K. Already this season he has raced twice domestically over the 10k distance finishing 3rd in Meknes (28:30) and 2nd in Kenitra (28:47).