If you told Vancouver resident Dayna Pidhoresky 10 years ago that she’d be winning half-marathons and training for a spot on the Canadian Olympic marathon team, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.
“I never thought I’d run at this level after university,” Pidhoresky says. “But once I got more into road running and ran a couple of decent half-marathons, I started thinking about it.”
Last year Pidhoresky, 32, ran in 12 races ranging from a 5K in Vancouver to a full marathon in Chicago. She won five of those events, with a season’s best time of 1:12:38. She placed in the top five in the others with a DNF in the marathon due to illness.
She’s become a steadily rising star in the constellation of Canadian distance runners and a full-blown threat to make the Canadian Olympic team for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.
Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, Pidhoresky says she never thought about being a marathoner or competing in the Olympics. But times have changed and so have Pidhoresky’s goals.
In 2017 she was the first Canadian woman and seventh overall in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon with a time of 2:36:08. Last year she ran mostly half-marathons, a distance she says she feels very comfortable with. But for 2019, she’s preparing for two marathons and hopes to qualify for the Olympic team in one of them.
She’ll compete in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on May 26 and in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20. The qualifying times to make the Olympic marathon team haven’t been released yet but she guesses it will be in the range of 2:37, a time she can already meet.
“Only the top three go,” Pidhoresky says, “and there are a lot of people who’ve moved up. The women’s field is more challenging now than it was even two years ago.”
Pidhoresky has already completed her first big race of the season – a half-marathon in Houston in January – where she placed 16th with a 1:12:59.
Like many athletes, Pidhoresky gets nervous before a competition. She usually gets up about three hours ahead to mentally prepare and focus. Her ideal course would be flat, with no wind and temperatures between 40 and 50F.
For her first Olympic qualifying race in Ottawa, she’ll get at least one of her criteria – a mainly flat course. And with the amount of training and preparation she’s putting in on the streets of Vancouver, she’ll be mentally prepared to overcome any obstacles that stand in her way, even if it’s raining.