8 to Watch at the 2019 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

Five Men To Watch

Abera Kuma | Ethiopia | 28

Kuma comes to Ottawa with a personal best of 2:05:50, which he ran at the 2018 Rotterdam Marathon. This was his second time under 2:06. Most significantly this performance came just thirty-five days after he finished the Lake Biwa Marathon in 2:09:31. When asked about racing so soon after a marathon he said he just wanted to atone for his poor performance in Japan. We are assured he will be properly rested and eager to chase his countryman Yemane Tsegaye’s course record of 2:06:54 when he lands in the Canadian capital.

Martin Kosgey | Kenya | 30

This 30-year-old Kenyan has a history of finishing runner up in several international marathons – Hannover, Frankfurt for example. Indeed, it has been five years since he last won a marathon and that was the 2014 Lyon Marathon. But throughout he has shown improvement. He has a personal best of 2:06:41 from the 2018 Frankfurt race. Where did he finish? Second, of course. Now he is itching to claim victory here in Ottawa and the $30,000 CDN first place prize money.

Ayana Tsedat | Ethiopia | 23

Tsedat won Seville (an IAAF Gold Label race) in February 2019 shattering the course record by over a minute. His time there was 2:06:36. That sliced almost three minutes off his previous best (2:09:26), which had been set in Barcelona. More recently he recorded a personal best of 60:44 at the Jianzhen Half Marathon in China finishing 6th in this IAAF Gold Label race.

Reid Coolsaet | Canada | 39

With a personal best of 2:10:28 set at Berlin 2015, Coolsaet has been the country’s top marathoner in recent years. A two-time Canadian Olympian he has also run 2:10:55 at Fukuoka 2016 and a host of races in the 2:11-2:12 range. Injuries obstructed him in 2018. The Hamilton, Ontario resident has been training in Boulder, Colorado for the past few months in preparation for Ottawa. The father of two is a wily competitor and has much running left in those legs.

May 21 update: Marius Kimutai (KEN) has scratched.

Five Women To Watch

Shuko Gemeno | Ethiopia | 23

Success came early for Shuko in the marathon. In 2013, as an 18 year old, she finished 2nd in the Beirut Marathon, which is an IAAF Silver Label race. Three years later, in 2016, she won both the Mumbai Marathon in 2:27:50 and the 2016 Vienna Marathon in a whopping personal best of 2:24:31. Clearly she has much more to produce as she matures. Most importantly, her preparation appears to be going well. On April 7th she finished 2nd at the Nova Poshta Half Marathon in Kiev, Ukraine in 1:10:54. Another prodigy of famed Ethiopian coach, Gemedu Dedefo, she trains with a talented group of women in the high altitude of central Ethiopia.

Tigist Girma Ethiopia 26

With a personal best of 2:26:44 – set in winning the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon in China last December – Girma may not be on everyone’s radar. But since her victory at the 2016 Beirut Marathon (an IAAF Silver Label race), she has continued to improve thanks to having training partners such as three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and 2015 world marathon champion Mare Dibaba (no relation). Ottawa will be her first outing of 2019 and clearly she will be ready to battle the field.

Abeba-Tekula Gebremeskel | Ethiopia | 39

Gebremeskel knocked more than five minutes off her personal best time with a second place finish in Seville (February 17th, 2019). Her time there was 2:24:53. That was an incredible breakthrough for the Ethiopian. Prior to that performance her resume included wins in minor races including Porto, Buenos Aires and Firenze (Italy). No doubt she will be brimming with confidence that she can run with her compatriots on the streets of Ottawa.

Rachel Hannah | Canada | 32

Two months after she finished 25th in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Hannah made her marathon debut at the 2015 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. Her time there was a good 2:33:30. Two months later she earned the marathon bronze medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Since then she has reduced her personal best time to 2:32:09 (Houston 2016) before encountering a lengthy period of injuries (stress fractures of the sacrum and metatarsals as well as amenorrhea). Early signs are that she is ready to perform again.

Hannah recently switched jobs and is working full time as a dietician at the University of Guelph.

May 22 update: Tirfi Tsegaye (ETH) has scratched.