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Canadian Toth looks to impress in Kampala

Canadian Toth looks to impress in Kampala

Thomas Toth hopes to one day represent Canada in the Olympic marathon but he has a number of steps to take to get there.

One of the steps comes next year when he will represent Canada for the first time at two international cross country running meets.

The Lakefield native has been named to Team Canada for the Pan Am Cross Country Cup in Boca Raton, Fla. on March 4 and the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda on March 26, 2017.

"The ultimate goal in terms of being an athlete is to represent your country and compete on the world stage," said Toth, who lives and trains in New Hampshire with his American-born wife Mikaela. The couple met while Toth was attending Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma on a track scholarship.

"This is the culmination of years of hard work and definitely the biggest moment of my career," he said, of his Team Canada selection.

Toth had success at the collegiate level in track and cross country but really burst onto the national scene for Canada at the half-marathon distance earlier this year. He placed fifth overall and posted one of the 10 fastest times ever by a Canadian at the half-marathon distance at the Houston Marathon in January. In June he won the Canadian half-marathon championship in Calgary. They were the first races he'd run at that distance. He hopes to run his first marathon in 2017.

While his focus will eventually become the longer distances, Toth sees the opportunity to compete at international cross country meets as valuable experience. Canada's most recent Olympic marathoners were in their late 30s so at 25 Toth is just getting started.

"Getting championship experience now when I'm just starting out is crucial," he said.

His unfamiliarity with the field makes it tough to set specific goals for the two races.

"My goal is definitely to be the top Canadian and place as high as I can," he said.

Athletics Canada selected Toth as one of six runners for Team Canada despite his 10th-place finish at the Canadian cross country championships last month in Kingston. Toth said it wasn't his best day and his speed was off after competing at longer distances earlier in the season.

"Hopefully I can prove I was the right selection," he said.

He'll run the half-marathon in Houston again in January in hopes of hitting the standard for the world half-marathon championships. He'll also do a couple of tune-up events at the cross country distance prior to the Pan Am event.

Toth says the biggest challenge of moving to the longer distances is developing the necessary pain threshold.

"It's something you have to be comfortable with because the marathon is 26.2 miles of nothing but pain," he said. "When I did the half-marathon I thought, I've done 10 mile workouts and 20 mile long runs, it can't be that bad. At about eight miles in I thought, 'Yep, I should have played hockey.'

"The pain is not just something you have to get used to, but you have to accept that it's going to hurt and it's going to hurt for a long time. Physically, I think I'm in a pretty good position. I'm definitely a lot fitter than I was when I ran Houston or Calgary, but also mentally I think I'm a lot more prepared."

Toth looks at 2017 as a stepping stone in his development.

"I've never been in the position to represent Canada so it's groundwork and something I hope to build off to have a better 2018 and a better 2019. It's really the start of my career."

courtesy of The Peter Borough Examiner