Langley, BC’s Fiona Benson won the Flotrack Throwdown mile race that took place in Portland, Oregon today. She finished in a near Canadian record time of 4:25.79, which according to Flotrack is the current world lead for 2015. Her previous best was a 4:43.83 (indoors) – her outdoor best is not known at this time. The current Canadian outdoor record is 4:23.28, which was set by Vancouver’s Leah Pells in 1996.
Benson’s 4:25.79 according to the IAAF scoring tables is equivalent to her running approximately 4:07.00 for 1500m, which would be one of the fastest active Canadian times, which is downright fast for someone who was more or less specialising in the 800m distance this year. This was her first mile race of 2015. She has not raced a 1500m yet either.
Her race today is nearly as fast as Canada’s current crop of 1500m specialists, for example Winnipeg’s Nicole Sifuentes owns a personal best time of 4:04.65. She won bronze at the 2014 IAAF Indoor World Championships, while Sheila Reid of Toronto owns a 4:02.96. Reid won the NCAA national championships in 2010 and 2011, the latter of which she won both the 1500m and 5,000m distance events. Fellow Torontonian Kate Van Buskirk, who earned a bronze medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, has run as fast as 4:05.38 and finally London Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff owns a best of 4:05.08. Benson is not far behind this group of 1500m athletes.
Lynn Kanuka (Williams) still owns the national 1500m record with her 4:00.27 performance from 1985.
Comparing Benson’s mile to an 800m performance, the scoring tables suggest a 2:00.20.
Benson broke out in a big way in the 800m event this spring by running several strong personal bests in a row including a seven second drop as well as becoming the just the fifth Canadian all-time to crack the two minute barrier by running 1:59.94 in Portland in June. At the time that was the lead performance in Canada for 2015 until Eganville, Ontario’s Melissa Bishop raced to a 1:58.52 personal best in Lucerne, Switzerland on July 15th. She went on to win gold in the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games.
Benson has qualified to compete in 800m event at the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that will be taking place in Beijing later this month. She has also run fast enough to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games; however, there is another season of qualifying ahead of her and athletes will need to have one of the top-three times in Canada, have run under the qualification standard and compete and finish top-three at the national championships before Rio.
The 800m standard for Canadian women is 2:01.00, while the 1500m standard is 4:06.50 or a mile equivalent of 4:25.20.