Canada’s best shine at Run Ottawa Distance Night

There’s fast, and then there’s track fast.

As the temperatures dipped and winds picked up on Thursday night at the 2017 Canadian Track and Field Championships, past and future Canadian Olympians lit up the track.

Thursday Night was billed as the Run Ottawa Distance Night and featured the finals for the Senior Men’s and Women’s 5000m, the Senior Men’s and Women’s 3000m steeplechase, the U20 Women’s 3000m and the U20 Men’s 5000m.

In the opening final, 16-year-old Brogan MacDougall from Kingston, Ont. crushed the field in the U20 Women 3000m, finishing with a blazing time of 9:21.84.

MacDougall will be a name to watch for in future after finishing 30th overall at the 2017 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships and posting a 16:06.75 5000m at the Penn Relays in April.

Next up came the steeplechase, where the reigning Canadian record holders showed they aren’t quite ready to cede their titles.

Olympians Matt Hughes and Geneviève Lalonde each took home first place in the men’s and women’s finals with times of 8:30.91 and 9:37.45, respectively.

Lalonde’s time set a new event record, while Hughes hit the world qualifying time and will go on to compete at the IAAF Championships in London, UK next month.

Next up in the U20 Men’s 5000m, Jean-Simon Desgagnés of Université Laval took home top honours with a time of 14:59.12.

In the Senior Mens 5000m final, one of the most anticipated events of the week, two of Canada’s brightest stars went head-to-head.

Mohammed Ahmed, owner of the Canadian 5000m record and the 4th place finisher in the event at last year’s Olympics, was up against a tough field that included Justyn Knight.

The 20-year-old Knight, who competes for the University of Syracuse, finished 2nd at last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships and owns a 13:17.51 PB in the 5000m.

After the starting gun, both athletes hung back in the leading pack, letting other athletes set the pace. But with several laps to go, Knight and Ahmed flicked on the afterburners and showed why they’re among Canada’s best on the track.

With both athletes going all-out to the finish line, it was Ahmed who came first with a time of 14:02.36, followed closely by Knight in 14:03.16. Both athletes met the world qualifying standard.

This is only the beginning of summer competitions for these two athletes who will meet again at the IAAF Championships in August, where Knight said he hopes he can shoot for a top spot.

“I like to approach every race with a mindset of setting unrealistic goals because you don’t know what you can accomplish along the way,” Knight said.

In the final race of the night, the Senior Women’s 5000m, Ottawa favourites Natasha Wodak and Lanni Marchant squared off against a competitive field featuring Andrea Seccafien, Rachel Cliff and Sasha Gollish.

After leading the race through several laps, Wodak was overtaken and eventually finished 8th, while Marchant, who is still recovering from a spring injury, would place 13th

The winner was 26-year-old Seccafien of Guelph, Ont. This is Seccafien’s 3rd 5000m win at the championships, she also took home 5000m gold in 2013 and 2016.

Seccafien, who’s coming off a string of strong performances, says she approaches every race with a mindset of going for the win. 

“I really like winning,” she said with a laugh. “You always want to be the Canadian champ, but it always feel good to win.”

For full results, visit the Athletics Canada website.