Ethiopia's Deressa Chimsa on his way to victory at the Toronto Marathon (© Victah Sailer)
Deressa Chimsa thrilled spectators at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon two years ago, running away from a strong field to claim victory in a Canadian all-comers’ record of 2:07:05, and now the Ethiopian has confirmed that he will return and attack his course record at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday 18 October.
“The training is going well and with six weeks to go, if I’ll not have any problem, I hope to be able to perform at my best in Toronto,” he said from his training base in Addis Ababa. “I’m actually running 210-230 kilometres a week, sometime fast, sometimes slowly. This week, I’ll start the special period for the marathon training.”
Chimsa, who has a best time of 2:05:42 from the 2012 Dubai Marathon, already knows that he will be facing the 2014 Toronto winner, Kenya’s Laban Korir, and relishes the challenge.
“Unfortunately I was preparing for Toronto last year but an injury made me unable to train for a few weeks and I had to postpone racing this marathon,” explained Chimsa, reflecting from his absence from last year’s race.
“No problem, when I’m ready I’m not afraid of anybody. As I said, when I won Toronto it was not my race because I entered Toronto just one month before the race. Shami Dawid from Ethiopia was injured and when they proposed it to me I accepted because I was strong in training and I did not want to wait until November and lose the shape.”
Chimsa remembers well his first glorious visit to Toronto.
“It was one of the best days of my career. I won with the course record and running in front the last 10 kilometres. The worst thing happened to me was in the last 300 metres when I followed the television car. I went off the course and I lost, for sure, more than 20 seconds.
“We went to an Ethiopian restaurant and it was a surprise for me because in other towns where I ran the marathon there are no Ethiopian restaurants. It was a good evening because I received a lot of congratulations from Ethiopians living in Toronto and also during the race there were some Ethiopian spectators helping me.”
This year, he is keeping his fingers crossed about the weather. “If the climate and the wind will be ok, I can again run near 2:07 or under. If the pacers are ok and able to go till 30k in a correct pace. There are very many variables in the marathon but the most important thing is my shape.”
Chimsa is now 28 and hails from the village of Kore Edo near Holeta Genet, about 35 kilometres north of Addis. His parents are farmers and when he is between marathon races he likes to return to visit them, and his two sisters and three brothers.
Normally, he races two top quality marathons a year. On 12 April this year he ran 2:07:56 at the Paris Marathon, good enough for seventh place and just two seconds behind one Laban Korir, despite a small injury while preparing for the race.
What the future holds for Chimsa after Toronto is anybody’s guess.
“I was already at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and I won a silver medl. I dream of representing Ethiopia at the Olympic Games, but with all the new generation running so fast I know that will be difficult. In any case, my goal is to win some top marathons in the next years.
“I would like to compete for another 10 years. I hope injuries will not affect me (or not so much) in the future. You know your body has to support you, otherwise it is difficult to run; then I want to share my experiences with the new athletes coming out and I would like to remain and work in athletics. Ethiopia has many big talents, so I think it would be great to coach new athletes and develop them,” he added.
Paul Gains (organisers) for the IAAF