Trevor Hofbauer flashed three fingers and a wide smile as he crossed the finish line on Sunday.
The 30-year-old from Calgary captured his third Canadian title at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, while Malindi Elmore won the women’s crown in her Toronto race debut.
And while Hofbauer’s time was more than a minute off his personal best, and he “did not feel good out there,” he was pleased to cap a tiring season with a victory.
“I’m a little sore. Might need a nap this afternoon,” Hofbauer said with a laugh. “It’s been a long year, pretty challenging year, so to just get on the start line here today was an accomplishment in itself, and then finish the race, my body’s just sore. I’m tired. I just want to go to bed. I want to rest and just go from there.”
Hofbauer, who was 15th in the Boston Marathon in April, ran two hours 11 minutes to finish fifth overall, claiming the national title as the top Canadian. He also won the Toronto race in 2017 and ‘19, where he set his personal best of 2:09:51.
Yihunilign Adane of Ethiopia, who won the Barcelona marathon in May, was the overall winner, crossing in 2:07:18
Rory Linkletter of Calgary, who placed 20th at the world championships less than two months ago, was the second Canadian, finishing seventh overall (2:13:32). Lee Wesselius of River Glade, N.B., a large-animal veterinarian, was ninth overall and the third Canadian (2:16:51).
“It was a battle up there with Trevor,” said Linkletter, whose wife Jill and young son Jason were at the finish line.
Linkletter pushed the pace in the second half and pulled ahead of Hofbauer to lead the Canadian field for about two kilometres.
“It’s been a long year, we knew Toronto would be the icing on the cake, so whatever I accomplished here today was going to be a bonus no matter what,” Linkletter said.
Elmore ran 2:25:14 to capture the national women’s crown. The 42-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., was fourth overall.
Antonina Kwambai of Kenya was the overall women’s winner (2:23:20). Dayna Pidhoresky was seventh overall and the second Canadian woman (2:30:58), while Sasha Gollish was right behind her in eighth, and the third Canadian (2:31:40).
Elmore has resurrected her running career after competing in the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 1,500 metres and then returning to the Games 17 years later to finish ninth in the Tokyo Olympic marathon last year.
She had the Toronto marathon in her sights as far back as 2012, but became pregnant with her first of two sons that year.
“I kind of put it to rest obviously for a number of years,” Elmore said. “But yeah, this was the first marathon I ever wanted to do.”
She had crushed the Canadian record in just her second time running the distance (2:24:50 in early 2020), but saw it fall to Natasha Wodak, who ran 2:23:12 in Berlin last month.
The big winner Sunday was race director Alan Brookes and his staff, as it was the first time the race has been held live in three years, due to COVID-19. A virtual race was held last year. Crowds a half a dozen deep lined the final stretch to the finish line.
“It was awesome to see the community out in full force,” said Gollish, a Torontonian.
“The fans were loud along the course, so a lot of fun out there, it’s great post (COVID-19) lockdown,” added Hofbauer, wearing a Canadian flag like a cape around his shoulders.
Elmore, who hopes to race for Canada at the 2024 Paris Olympics, said there were plenty of international fall marathons to choose from, but she couldn’t pass up the chance to compete on home soil.
“I was like, I want to run a Canadian marathon. I want to be with my people here. And I have six or seven people who I coach who are also racing today and then my oldest (son Charlie, who’s eight) is here. It just made sense to come here,” she said. “Doing Canada’s marquee marathon is a cool thing.”
While Elmore and Hofbauer are friends and often train together in Kelowna, she’ll be his coach in the upcoming U Sports cross-country season. Elmore is the cross-country coach at UBC Okanagan.
Asked what to expect, Hofbauer laughed and said he anticipates a lot of hot baths with epsom salts to soothe his sore muscles.
Some 22,000 runners — including a marathoner carrying an ironing board in an effort to break a Guinness World Record — participated in the event, which included a 5K, half-marathon and marathon. The fast and flat 42.195-kilometre marathon course first stretched west and then east along the lakeshore. The start and finish line were in front of Toronto City Hall.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press