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Cameron Levins

It could be suggested that Cameron Levins’ Eugene World Athletics Championships marathon performance of 2:07:09 — Canadian record — was a prelude to the Vancouver First Half Half Marathon on Sunday, but no one calls themselves a half-marathon specialist.

Sunday, Levins ran in the rain and over a rolling course in the new national record time of one hour and 18 seconds. He ran alone for much of the race. The 33-year-old had no pacers and imperfect conditions. Perhaps he is capable of a 58-minute half-marathon in the right conditions on the right day. What does that say about his marathon potential?

Valencia offers a fast half marathon course and all the competition an elite athelete could ask for, but in October, Levins was beaten by fellow Canadian Ben Flanagan. Flanagan set the national record at 61:00 in that race, Levins was four seconds back. It was a strong performance to add to Flanagan’s 10K national road record four months prior which he set at 28:11. Levins ran well in Valencia, but 61:04 does not project out to a 2:07:09 marathon. Saying that, you can’t always get it right, during every race. However, his Vancouver performance was at a whole new level considering the conditions.

It speaks to “what ifs” conjuring bar stool debates of the potentiality of Levins running a 2:05-high marathon. A time thought unapproachable for a Canadian. And people may continue to think that, but when Levins gets it right, he really gets it right.

Levins will be racing the marathon in Tokyo on March 5th. He will be seeking the auto-qualifying standard for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games of 2:08:10. He will apparently be in Budapest for the World Athletics Championships this summer too, or at least he has been selected by Athletics Canada to attend.

Sunday, Lee Wesselius finished in second place in the time of 64:17. Thomas Broatch clocked a 64:23 for third.

The top master was Andrew Russell in 70:49.

Natasha Wodak

North Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak took the women’s win and lowered her event record to 1:10:17 from 1:11:32. Wodak would like to take her national record back. She set it in 2020 at the Houston Half Marathon at 69:41 and was the first Canadian under the 70-minute benchmark. Three weeks later, Andrea Seccafien bettered it by three seconds in Muragame, Japan.

Wodak showed signs of fitness at the Harriers Pioneer 8K on Sunday, January 8th winning it for the ninth time in 10 years. She set the national best over 8K at the race in 2013 with her 25:28 performance, which still stands. She owns at least three course records from the event, the outright event record (previous course), the new course record and the masters record.

Wodak would have raced the Houston Half Marathon in mid-January but was sick leading up and was forced to pull out — so, she is back.

Also Sunday, Wodak took the women’s title and lowered her event record to 1:10:17 from 1:11:32. It also marked the Vancouver resident’s fifth time under 1:11:00 and 38 seconds shy of Andrea Seccafien’s 1:09:38 Canadian record from Feb. 2, 2020 in Marugame, Japan. Last month, the 41-year-old Wodak withdrew from the Houston Half Marathon due to illness, her fourth since contracting COVID-19 last September when she took down Malindi Elmore’s Canadian marathon record with a 2:23:12 performance in Berlin.

Leslie Sexton took second place, while masters athlete Sasha Gollish took third. They finished in 71:40 and 72:51, respectively. Sexton set a new personal best, her previous pb was 72:05 from Houston one month ago.