© Copyright – 2020- Athletics Illustrated
Update: The World Half Marathon Championships have been postponed to October, 17 2020.
The World Athletics World Half Marathon Championships will be taking place on Sunday, March 29 in Gdynia, Poland, and Canada is sending a full complement of eight athletes, four women, and four men. Three women and all four men have so far been named to the team.
Andrea Seccafien, who in January broke Natasha Wodak’s national half-marathon record, is leading the way. She ran 69:38 and is just the second Canadian to break the 70-minute benchmark, all-time. She is joined by Victoria Coates and Rachel Cliff, the former national half-marathon and marathon record holder from Vancouver.
The second-fastest man all-time in Canada is Rory Linkletter with his personal best of 61:44. He has been named and joining Linkletter on the trip is Ben Preisner, Thomas Toth, and the second-fastest all-time Canadian marathon runner Trevor Hofbauer from Calgary.
In an Athletics Canada release Linkletter said, “I am so honoured to be selected. I love competing internationally for Canada and meeting other fellow Canadian distance runners. I’ve always been so intrigued by the World Half Marathon Championships and knew I wanted to compete in it if given the opportunity. My goal will be to compete alongside my teammates and help team Canada score better than it has in years past.”
Twenty-three-year-old Preisner (24 on race day) has run as fast as 63:08 in Toronto last year. Toth’s best is 64:28. While Linkletter’s 61:44 from January 2020 leads the way. The 23-year-old has set four new bests in 2019 and early 2020.
Hofbauer will likely improve on his 64:30 from 2015, since then he has become much faster at distance running. His marathon time of 2:09:51 is second only to Cam Levins, all-time. Levins in 2018 became the first Canadian to break the 2:10 barrier and he did it on home soil in Toronto running a 2:09:25. His half best is 62:14 from January 2020 – expect Hofbauer to take a couple of minutes off of his own best at the 21.1K distance.
The national half-marathon record continues at 61:28 and is held by Jeff Schiebler from 1999.
Seccafien is being coached by the legendary Nic Bideau located in Melbourne, Australia. She ran her new best time just four weeks ago in Muragame, Japan.
The move down under has proven to be fruitful for Seccafien as she has set four new bests over the past five months including a 14:59.95 in Doha at the World Athletics Championships in October in the 5,000-metre distance. In December, she ran a new 10,000m best of 32:48.30 in Melbourne. In February, she took to the roads and ran a strong 33:05 in Hobart, Aus. Her half-marathon record came just two weeks after Wodak had become the first Canadian to break the 70-minute barrier.
The 29-year-old ran for Samford (Alabama) and Guelph Universities. She was named to the 2016 Rio Olympic team in the 5,000m.
Canada is in a good place in distance running. Seccafien’s A-goal in 2018 was to break the national 5,000m record. She has run well, just Gabriela DeBues-Stafford has run faster at the distance with a 14:44.12 from last September. It is one of six events and nine new records that DeBues-Stafford has taken over the past year.
Linkletter and Seccafien both have an opportunity to improve on the national record in Poland.
The winners were Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya in 60:02 and Ethiopian Netsanet Gudeta Kebede in 66:11.
The World Half Marathon Championships have been run since 1992. The event went annually until 2010, where it switched to every-other-year. The 2022 edition will take place in Yangzhou, China. The 23rd edition in 2018 was run in Valencia, Spain.