CFB Esquimalt runners shine in Sarajevo

Members of Canada’s CISM half- marathon team gather for a group photo before running their race in Sarajevo on May 26. Photo supplied by CISM

Members of Canada’s CISM half-marathon team gather for a group photo before running their race in Sarajevo on May 26. Photo supplied by CISM

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer 
Three sailors from Victoria paced Canada to a successful performance in a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) women’s half-marathon in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The CISM men’s and women’s races involved military runners and support staff from 29 nations covering 21 km through the streets of Sarajevo on May 26. Our women’s team finished tenth overall in the competition while the Canadian men’s team was 17th.

Sailor 1st Class (S1) Amanda Polus of the Personnel Coordination Centre Pacific says she and her teammates were encouraged by the results.

“I am proud of how we performed as a team since many of the runners we were competing against are from militaries of countries where being an athlete is their trade and full-time military occupation,” said S1 Polus. 

It was S1 Polus’ first time competing in a CISM running event and her second half marathon; the race also marked her personal best time: S1 Polus was 36th with a time of 1:27:01.

S1 Polus began her journey in competitive running a little over a year ago after participating in the Fleet race and the Vancouver Island Racing series in 2024. Success quickly followed, when she won a gold medal in the women’s 25 to 29 category in the Victoria Marathon. She said the trip to Sarajevo was a life-changing event because of her top-notch training environment. She also rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s top marathon and long-distance runners.

“We met and raced with several professional athletes who are currently training for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, so this was a huge honor for me and my teammates,” said S1 Polus.

Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) Bailey Toupin, a reservist of HMCS Malahat, Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Aisling Wydysh from HMCS Venture and Major (Maj) Isabelle Turner of CFB Kingston made up the rest of the Canadian women’s team.

SLt Wydysh posted Canada’s top time among 71 females in the field, finishing 32nd with a time of 1:25:37. Like S1 Polus, SLt Wydysh is new to competitive running. The race in Sarajevo marked her second time competing in a CISM running competition; this followed her debut in a CISM half marathon in Switzerland last year. She reported to be ‘overjoyed’ with her performance in Sarajevo.

“Going into the half marathon, I had set a goal of 1:27 but I beat that time and set a personal best,” said SLt Wydysh. “I was so lucky to have my teammates from Victoria with me to compete and train together, to motivate each other and share in each other’s successes.”

Just 46 seconds after SLt Wydysh was PO2 Toupin, finishing in the 34th position with a time of 1:26:23. Maj Turner was 52nd crossing the finish line at 1:36:58.

The next competition for Canada’s CISM running team is a cross-country event for the 5th CISM Military World Winter Games, March 23-30, 2025, in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Canada Half-Marathon Teams

Sailor 1st Class Amanda Polus, 
Petty Officer 2nd Class Bailey Toupin, 
Sub-Lieutenant Aisling Wydysh, 
Major Isabelle Turner. Finish: 10th.

Master Corporal Ryan Albano, 
Master Sailor Antony Dionne, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Coffin. 
2nd Lieutenant Logan Roots, Finish: 17th.

Coach: Lieutenant (Navy) Michael-Lucien Bergeron
Trainer: Major Rebecca Wheaton-Sparks
Manager: Major Michael Mueller
Patron: Colonel Catherine Marchetti

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