My short tour, so far, of running road races in Ontario, Canada

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18493382_10158754601190370_1511638303_o.jpgEnjoying the awards ceremony in Ontario, Canada

Justin Lagat is in Canada, as he prepares for the Scotia Bank Ottowa Marathon. Here is his story on his race experiences and the new runners he has met.

Top five male finishers at the Sporting Life Ottawa 10K race
Life as a runner, not necessarily as an elite athlete - as I do not count myself as one - can be so exciting. There is the rare opportunity to travel to many places across the world, get to know and meet other runners (and by the way, if you have noticed, almost all runners everywhere across the world, regardless of their level, are amazing people), win commemorative medals, remain fit and healthy and get to contribute to charities, just to name but a few of the many uncountable benefits of being a runner.

So, traveling back and forth to Toronto and Ottawa in the last few days, my backpack is now jingling with medals after doing a few of the road races here. I wish I could do more, but I am already tapering for my big race of the year at the end of this month: The ScotiaBank Ottawa Marathon.

The Mississauga marathon that has been praised by many runners who have run before for their great organization was my first stop. I did their 10K race in the evening of 6th May and their half marathon the following morning of 7th May finishing second in both races. The 10km race was won by Sergio Villanueva in 30:16. He was such a fine runner and broke away from the rest of the field just at the start, even before the echo of the gun could resound. I finished second in 31:24 while Tsegaye Dissasa finished third in 31:33.

The following morning, Bonsa Gonfa won the half marathon race in 1:06:17 after a sprint finish in the last 300m to put me second in 1:06:24. Two minutes and twenty six seconds later, Gilbert Kiptoo came third in 1:08:50.

Despite the cold and rainy weather in the Mississauga Marathon events, the organizers, the volunteers and the cheerers were so amazing. I did like everything about this race and I would recommend it to anyone who plans to race this time of the year next year. No one controls the weather, but the Mississauga Marathon had enough tents at the finish. I entered one and got a free massage as I waited for my warm clothes.

When I headed to Ottawa this weekend to run the Sporting Life 10km race, it would seem that when I run two races I finish second, but when when I only run one race, I won my only race this weekend in 31:02. Last year's winner, Maxime Leboeuf ran side by side with me almost the entire distance and helped push the pace in the first 9km until a slight gap suddenly opened up with less than a kilometer to go and he finished just four seconds behind me in 31:06. Olivier Babineau was third in 32:13. There were two Sporting Life 10K races the same day and as I won in Ottawa, Bonsa Gonfa, who I was second to in the half marathon in Mississauga, won the one in Toronto in 29:29.

The proceeds from the Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary 10K (June 17th) races raise money for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). The CHEO Foundation that organizes the Sporting Life 10km road races, with Community support, assist the hospital in providing a wide variety of pediatric programs, research, state-of the art equipment, medical and nursing education, and assistance for families in crisis. But, 100% of the proceeds from the races go towards oncology.

As I looked forward to more exciting encounters with runners here in Canada, I am happy to be able to help spread the awareness of some of the well-organized races around here, some of the charities they support, share some racing experiences here and stories of some wonderful runners who have welcomed, showed me around, and hosted me in their homes.

Look out for more of my adventures of training and running here in Canada.

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