Canada’s Ben Preisner, in his marathon debut, hits Olympic standard in Arizona

Canada’s Ben Preisner, in his marathon debut, hits Olympic standard in Arizona

In his first 42.2-kilometre race, Ben Preisner of Milton, Ont., was the only Canadian men’s runner to run under the Tokyo Olympic standard at the Marathon Project on Sunday in Chander, Ariz.

The 24-year-old finished the elite-only professional race in two hours 10 minutes 17 seconds, the fourth-fastest all-time among Canadian men and 52 seconds shy of Cam Levins’ national record achieved in his debut marathon at the 2018 Toronto Waterfront event, where he broke Jerome Drayton’s 43-year-old mark.

Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer and Tristan Woodfine of Cobden, Ont., are the other Canadian men to have run the qualifying standard. Hofbauer gained an automatic berth for Tokyo as Canada’s top men’s finisher in last year’s Toronto Waterfront race while Woodfine clocked a 2:10:51 personal best at the London Marathon on Oct. 4.

Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak was the only other runner among six Canadians in Sunday’s competition to reach standard. She stopped the clock in 2:26:19 — well below the 2:29:30 required for women — in her second career marathon and first marathon since 2013.

Dayna Pidhoresky is in for Toyko as top Canadian women’s finisher at the 2019 TWM. Malindi Elmore is likely to join her after running 2:24:50 in Houston. Then, it’s Wodak and Rachel Cliff (2:26:56), who withdrew from The Marathon Project recently with right ankle tendinitis that has bothered her on and off for the past year.

Canada can add a maximum of three men and three women to its marathon roster for the Olympics next summer.

Calgary-born Rory Linkletter finished 17th in 2:12:54, a personal best after the Northern Arizona Elite athlete ran a 1:01:44 half marathon PB in January at Houston. Vancouver’s Justin Kent was 37th in 2:17:22 in his marathon debut while Kinsey Middleton, the other women’s participant from Canada, appeared to drop out of the race after reaching the halfway mark in 1:15:20.

A confident Preisner, who spent the final five weeks of his marathon build in Flagstaff, Ariz. — 270 km north of Chandler — was outspoken earlier this week about making an immediate push to achieve the Olympic standard.

“I had my eye on the Olympic standard and a lot of my training was geared towards that,” he told CBC Sports.

“Through my half marathon training and what I’ve done now in the marathon, I’ve felt I’m capable of hitting the standard. This is the time to do it. The Olympic year is [approaching] and the [qualifying] window is closing [May 31]. I might as well give it a shot and be confident going in.”

Levins sets 30 km record, unofficially

For Levins, who clocked 2:12:15 on Sunday, it was the second time since the start of October he was on pace to lower his 2:09:25 Canadian record late in a race. In the rain and cold at the London Marathon on Oct. 4, he dropped out after 35 km when he believed the standard was no longer achievable.

Cam Levins of Black Creek, B.C., missed the men’s 2:11:30 Olympic standard at a third straight marathon on Sunday, finishing in 2:12:15. (Submitted by Virgin Money London Marathon)

He looked strong Sunday and unofficially set a 30 km Canadian record in 1:31:44, according to USATF.TV. Art Boileau went 1:31:45 in Japan on March 7, 1982.

Levins’ 15th-place effort in Sunday’s 48-man field was nearly three seconds faster than his Toronto performance in October 2019.

Before Sunday’s race, Wodak told CBC Sports she was “feeling fit and healthy” and had several workouts suggesting she could run sub-2:27 after her 2:35:16 effort seven years ago.

“In my last two big sessions I was able to hit my target paces even though I had some pain — hamstring tendinitis that comes and goes,” said Wodak, the Canadian women’s record holder on the track in the 10,000 metres. “I know when it gets tough during the race and the pain sets in, I’ll be able to endure and fight.”

Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak, competing in only her second marathon and first since 2013, ran under the women’s 2:29:30 Olympic standard, clocking 2:26:19. (Submitted by Victor Sailer/Canada Running Series/File)

Earlier this year, the 39-year-old and her coach, Lynn Kanuka, agreed Wodak would return to the marathon later this year because she wanted to see how she could fare “before I run out of time.”

Wodak was 22nd in the 10,000 at her 2016 Olympic debut in Rio and has said qualifying in that event for Tokyo next summer remains her top priority.

Marty Hehir of Reebok Boston Track Club was the top men’s finisher in 2:08:59 and received $5,000 US, followed by Nathan Droddy of Indianapolis (2:09:09, $2,000) and Colin Bennie — Hehir’s teammate — in 2:09:38 ($1,000). A third Reebok Track Club member, Ben Flanagan of Kitchener, Ont., paced the 2:11:30 men’s group after winning his debut half marathon recently.

Sara Hall, the sixth-fastest American woman of all-time, won the women’s race in a 2:20:32 PB after clocking 2:22:01 at the London Marathon. Keira D’Amato, who set the women’s-only record for 10 miles (16 km) in November, was second (2:22:56) and fellow American Kellyn Taylor third (2:25:22).

Hehir and Hall also shattered the respective Arizona state records of 2:10:33 (Haron Toroitich, 2004) and 2:30:39 (Teyba Naser, 2010).

Published at Sun, 20 Dec 2020 17:24:51 +0000