At the risk of having my passport revoked and with apologies to everyone representing Canada this weekend — like Matt Sessions and this guy — my loudest cheers will be for Great Britain at the IAU World 100k Championships in Gibraltar on Sunday. Not all of Great Britain, mind you, but a tiny piece of the British Isles currently residing in the Canadian Rockies, Ellie Greenwood.
The long-time Canadian resident will be capping off a phenomenal year by representing Great Britain in her first World Championships against some of the biggest names in the ultrarunning world including defending champion Kami Semick of the US, Italian Monica Carlin, Commonwealth Champion, Jackie Fairweather of Australia, and Russian, Irina Vishnevskaya, who has the fastest 100k time of any woman in 2010.
It seems that every year is a breakthrough year for Ellie, but this year the fleet-footed Scot has taken a huge step and is now winning races outright.
After a disappointing start to the year when a wrong turn led to a DQ at the Orcas Island 50k, Ellie went on a tear, racking up wins and course records wherever she ran — on whatever surface she ran. A week after Orcas Island, Ellie was the first woman at the Frozen Ass 50k in Calgary. A month later she came from well behind at the Chuckanut 50k in Fairhaven, Washington to finish just seconds behind the top woman, Susannah Beck, a two-time US Olympic Marathon Trials competitor with a personal best marathon time of 2:34.
In May, Ellie took the overall win at the Elk Beaver 100k on Vancouver Island, defeating reigning champ, Sammy Lotfi-pour and setting an unofficial women’s world trail 100k record of 7:36:40 in the process. She added overall wins at the Scorched Sole 50-miler in Kelowna — where we ran together for nearly 25k before she left me to die in the snow atop Little White Mountain — and at Canada’s largest ultramarathon, the Run For the Toad in Cambridge, Ontario. Ellie finished 5th overall and crushed the women’s course record with a 5:08 at the Knee Knacker and was second overall behind two-time Western States champion, Hal Koerner, running the second fastest time ever at the infamous Canadian Death Race in Grand Cache, Alberta. Ellie’s dominance wasn’t limited to the dirt as she won women’s titles at the Calgary and Edmonton Marathons, lowering her personal best to 2:49:54.
Make no mistake, while she is running for Britain this weekend, Ellie Greenwood is one of us. Ellie forged her running career on the roads and trails around Vancouver and has taken it to new heights — literally — this year in the mountains of Banff. I must admit that it’s been frustrating at times being schooled by this tiny woman with the big smile and heart of gold, but deep down I knew — as did countless others — that we were witnessing the emergence of a bona fide superstar in the sport. Her well-earned selection to the British team for Gibraltar confirms it.
Best of luck this weekend, Ellie!
UPDATE — Kami Semick did not start, but one of Ellie’s idols, the great Lizzy Hawker of Great Britain did. Should be a great race!
FURTHER UPDATE — Click here for Tweet-by-Tweet recap of Ellie’s run