Gabriela-DeBues Stafford

Gabriela-DeBues Stafford, Canada’s fastest ever 1500 and 5000 meter runner and two-time Olympian, is confirmed for the 1500-meter event at the annual Victoria Track Classic at UVic’s Centennial Stadium next week.

“I first raced the Vic Track Classic back in 2016 before I had made my first Olympic team so I have some really fond memories with this event,” said Debues-Stafford, sister to Lucia Stafford who will also be competing. “This sport often sees its pro athletes flying all over the world for races and so I’m pumped to be able to compete at what is now my home track – and to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before a race!”

DeBues-Stafford is ranked 28th in the all-time world rankings in the 1500 meters after smashing the Canadian record several times in 2019 and again at the World Championships that year in Doha, Qatar in 3:56.12 while finishing 6th overall. DeBues-Stafford would set Canadian records ten times in just twenty races between 2019 and 2020. In 2021, she became the first Canadian woman to ever break two minutes in the 800 meters, four minutes in the 1500 meters, and fifteen minutes in the 5000 meters. Only three other athletes in the world hold this status. Later that same year at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, DeBues-Stafford finished 5th in the 1500-meter final, tying Canada’s best-ever result in this event. In 2022 she became the fastest North American and 5th fastest in the world in the indoor 5000m.

Debues-Stafford joins her sister Lucia in competing at the Victoria Track Classic, however Gabriela will challenge the 1500 meters while Lucia will compete in the 800-meter event. 

Rounding out the field in the women’s 1500 meters will be Jessy Lacourse, the Quebec 5000-meter record holder and World University Games competitor in 2019 in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Lacourse achieved a personal best in the 1500m event in Guelph last month, running 4:14.80 Joining Lacourse and Debues-Stafford will be Cameron Ormond from Guelph with a personal best of 4:12.61 and a bronze medal at last year’s Canadian Championships.

In the men’s 1500 meters, The Victoria Track Classic has confirmed Will Paulson, of Victoria, a Pan Am Games bronze medalist in the 1500 meters and national champion in 2019. Paulson was a Commonwealth Games finalist in 2022. Joining Paulson will be Max Davies from Guelph who earlier this year broke the indoor 1,000 and 1500 meter U-Sport Championship records. Earlier this year, he cracked the four-minute barrier in the mile indoors and is currently the 4th fastest Canadian in 1500 meters with a 3:39.80 from last month. Davies is only twenty years old.

The Track Classic is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12th beginning at 6 p.m. with youth and preliminary races followed by the featured or professional events at 7:00 p.m. As a world athletics sanctioned event, athletes earn points towards their rankings which leads to selection onto national teams such as the Olympics.

This year’s Victoria Track Classic features events such as men’s 100 meters, women’s 100-meter hurdles and men’s and women’s 400, 800 and 1500 meter distances, javelin, pole vault and women’s discus. 

For ticket information please visit Ticket Information. Kids 12 and under are free.