Natasha Wodak, a two-time Olympian, will look to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games on April 28th during the Hamburg Marathon.

The qualification standard is 2:26:50. Her only goal for Hamburg is to run under the qualification standard. In the process, she hopes to also be ranked top 80 globally. The qualification standards are weighted on several factors. Two primary requirements are: running under the standard and being ranked top 80 globally.

Natasha Wodak at the start of the 2023 Harriers Pioneer 8K in Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri.

Coach Trent Stellingwerff was not committed at press time regarding the effort for the half-marathon. He and Wodak will decide closer to the date depending on the weather and her condition. She will either race hard or use the half-marathon as a marathon race-pace effort with extra training fitted in on the day. Race pace would have her finish in the time of 73:15 — a new course record.

Wodak has run 2:23:12 during the 2022 Berlin Marathon, which is the current national record. The 42-year-old North Vancouver native also ran 2:26:19 in 2020. During that race, she qualified for the 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympic Games in the one-off “Marathon Project” in Chandler, AZ.

Wodak also competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She raced the 10,000-metre event finishing in 22nd position with a 31:53.14 finish time. She held the previous national record at 31:41.59 from the 2015 Payton Jordan Invitational. Wodak was the first Canadian to run sub 70 minutes in the half-marathon. It was a short-lived national record time of 69:41 from the 2020 Houston Half Marathon. She also holds the national best-known time over 8K on the road. She ran 25:28 at the 2013 Harriers Pioneer 8K in Victoria, BC.

Dayna Pidhoresky

Dayna Pidhoresky will also be racing the Hamburg Marathon as a last-chance effort to try to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“We’re still not sure how she will approach racing Comox in terms of intensity,” shared her coach Josh Seifarth. “But we did choose it as the timing was nice in the middle of the build-up to peak fitness at the end of April! She will probably aim to cover around 30km that morning in Comox, so 21k of the race plus another 9k in warmup and cooldown, then a second run later that night most likely, for a total on the day of 38-40km which is pretty standard for her longer days.”

Pidhoresky competed in the Tokyo Games during the pandemic. It didn’t go well. Japanese authorities made her sequester in a hotel room for her entire stay in Tokyo, save for racing the Olympic Marathon. She had no opportunity to train. The race was moved to Sapporo, some 800K north of Tokyo, in case of heat. Unfortunately, by the time the race started, the detraining was well underway. The heat didn’t help.

Pidhoresky was forced to stay in the hotel because another passenger on her flight had arrived in Tokyo with COVID-19. Pidhoresky did not become infected from the flight.

Dayna Pidhoresky at an Vancouver Island Race Series event.

Race day was 34C, the same temperature as Tokyo, where the rest of the Olympic Games were centred. She tried and ended up at the back of the field.

Pidhoresky qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games marathon by finishing under the qualification standard in the time of 2:29:30. And by being the first Canadian in the Toronto Marathon. The Tecumseh, Ontario native clocked a personal best time of 2:29:03 in that race.

As for the half-marathon distance, she has run as fast as 1:11:46 on a non-certified course. And a certified 1:12:38 in 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta.

Look for both athletes to go under the course record of 1:16:55 set by Stephanie Andrews in 1998.

Rosalyn Smith seeking a world record

Rosalyn Smith of Courtenay, the city where the Comox Valley RV Marathon will take place, will be seeking a world record on race day.

The current Canadian women’s 75-plus record is held by Doris MacLachlan at 1:47:08 from the 2019 Toronto Half Marathon. While Smith’s pursuit of the world record will have her go at least a minute faster. The age-group record-keeping refers to performances as world best-known times.

Roslyn Smith at the 2023 Comox Valley RV Half Marathon. Photo file: Athletics Illustrated.

The current world best-known time is held by American Libby James at 1:46:08 from Orlando in 2013.

Smith set the Canadian records for F60 in the Comox Valley Half Marathon in 2009 in the time of 1:38:23 and the Victoria Marathon in 3:33:18.

In the age category for F65 in 2015, she ran 1:39:06 in the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon. In 2023, Smith ran the Comox race in the time of 1:44:28, well under both the national and world records.