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A pair of Canadians from Vancouver, BC are well on their way to running competitively at the Marathon Project happening Dec. 20 in Arizona.

The race is a little like a defacto North American Olympic Trials as approximately 50 male and 50 female runners from the US and Canada will be looking to better the Tokyo Olympic qualifying times of 2:11:30 and 2:29:30, respectively.

Justin Kent’s 20,000m national record

On Sunday, Justin Kent broke the Canadian 20,000m record by nine seconds with a 61:01 performance. According to the IAAF scoring tables, that time suggests a 64:33 half-marathon and a 2:18:48 marathon equivalent. However, the points performance from those tables are based on a 20K road effort, Kent ran on the track. Also, Kent wasn’t in a high-pressure race situation, perhaps he will run even faster in a normal race situation.  

The 28-year-old did run a well-kept secret half-marathon on Vancouver Island in September. He finished in the time of 64:20 within 13 seconds of what the tables predict. This performance qualified him for the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships that took place in Gdynia, Poland. The standard was 65:46. Athletics Canada named him to the team, however, decided to not send any athletes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Justin Kent. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

Kent began to demonstrate his talent in 2017 and in 2019 won his third consecutive GoodLife Fitness Victoria 8K, where he broke the 33-year-old event record with his 23:14 performance – a new personal best. Gary Barber held the previous record, on a slightly different course. Kent recorded at least six road and outdoor track personal bests in 2019 and two more indoors.

Tom Howard owned the 20,000m record, which he set in 1974, 46 years prior. Both athletes are from the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. The Marathon Project will be Kent’s debut at the distance. He will likely perform well as he is surrounded by good leadership from the Miles2Marathon Project where he is a coach. Dylan Wykes and Rob Watson head the organization and have run the marathon as fast as 2:10:47 and 2:13:29, respectively. He is coached by Richard Lee of the BC Endurance Project.

Editor’s note: Kent also ran a virtual race in Vancouver, completing the half-marathon distance in the time of 62:31 in lieu of attending the world championships.

Natasha Wodak continues to run well

Natasha Wodak continues to compete at a very high level, having run the third-fastest half-marathon in Canadian history on the weekend. She stopped the clock at 70:01. Wodak was the first Canadian to go sub-70 in January at the Houston Half Marathon clocking a 69:41. She also owns the national 10,000m record at 31:41.59 and the 8K road record of 25:28.

Natasha Wodak at 2019 Pioneer 8K in Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

Wodak ran the Toronto Marathon in 2013 recording a 2:35:16 in her debut. Based on her 10,000m, half-marathon and 10K (road) performances, she should be able to run at least as fast as 2:28:00.

The 38-year-old North Vancouver resident has competed in the World Athletics Cross Country Championships, finished fifth in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 10,000m and earned gold in the 2019 Lima Pan American Games 10,000m. She is a national champion at the distance.

Wodak is coached by Lynn Kanuka (Williams), a 1984 Los Angeles Olympic bronze medallist in the 3000m distance.

Read more about the Marathon Project, here>>

How good was Natasha Wodak’s 25:28 8K performance in 2013?