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Athletics Canada selected four athletes to compete in the marathon at the 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships in August. They are Kinsey Middleton, Justin Kent, Ben Preisner, and Rory Linkletter. The quartet is joining two who were already selected, Malindi Elmore and Natasha Wodak.

As at least two notable athletes are not committed, Wodak confirmed with Athletics Illustrated that she will be racing in Budapest with Team Canada.

The North Vancouver native is the current national record holder with her best of 2:23:12 from the 2022 Berlin Marathon. Elmore of Kelowna is the former national record holder from her 2020 Houston performance of 2:24:50. Middleton holds a best of 2:29:30 from Houston this past January. Wodak and Elmore are both two-time Olympians and Middleton competed in the 2022 Eugene World Athletics Championships last summer finishing in 26th position and clocking a 2:32:56 performance.

Linkletter ran the 2022 Eugene World Athletics Championships clocking a personal best of 2:10:24. The qualification window for Canadian athletes opened on Dec. 1, 2021. Although the time standard is 2:09:40 for men, qualification is weighted partially on time as well as on a points system related to global ranking in one’s event. Linkletter acquitted himself well with a 20th-place finish.

Preisner owns a best of 2:10:17 from the one-off marathon in Chandler, AZ named “The Marathon Project” which was run in Dec. 2020. He also raced Eugene and finished in 2:11:47, eight positions behind Linkletter. The surprise pick of the group is 31-year-old Justin Kent, of Surrey, BC. Although he continues to improve over all distances, his marathon best is 2:13:07 from May this year — a little outside of the top Canadian athletes. Perhaps providing opportunities to race in a global championship will benefit Kent. His half-marathon record of 1:02:48 puts him in the realm.

Two surprise names not on the list decided not to compete in Budapest. Cameron Levins of Black Creek, BC and Leslie Sexton of Vancouver. Levins owns the national record of 2:05:36 from the March running of the Tokyo Marathon. The performance was a paradigm shift moment for Canadian running fans — it was not that long ago that the national record paled in comparison to other national records — Levins is now the fastest in North America. It is likely that he will be seeking to push the record more out of reach on a fast course like Berlin or perhaps Chicago. Or, as rumour has it, focus on a challenging marathon to prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, which apparently, the course will be hilly and as global championships go, warm toward hot.

Sexton bowed out too.

“I declined the team this year to focus on shorter distances this summer and a marathon qualifier for Paris this fall.

“I think we are sending a strong marathon team this year and I am looking forward to watching them race in Budapest,” shared Sexton.

The full and final selection for Canada will be announced Aug. 2. The Budapest World Athletics Championships take place Aug. 19 to 27.