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Rory Linkletter broke the Canadian half-marathon record Sunday, January 16 at the Houston Half Marathon, where he clocked a 61-minute and eight-second finish time. In so doing, he improved upon Jeff Schiebler’s 61:28 record run from his race in Tokyo on January 15, 1999.

Additionally, he improved upon the 15k and 20k national records in the process of completing the 21.1k distance. He broke the record set by Paul Williams who ran 43:50 in Portland, OR in 1980. He also took down Cam Levins’ 59:09 record performance en route to his half-marathon finish where he ran 62:15 in Valencia, Spain in 2018. Linkletter ran the distances in 43:23 and 58:05, respectively.

The Calgary-raised 25-year-old athlete recently switched coaches moving to Ryan Hall. Hall is well known for running the marathon distance as fast as 2:04:58 in Boston. He also has the national record in the US at the half-marathon distance with his 59:43 performance, which was run in Houston in 2007. Hall is also having tremendous success coaching his wife Sara, who — among several other notable recent performances — broke Molly Huddle’s US half-marathon on Sunday. 

The move appears to have paid immediate dividends for Linkletter.

Linkletter competed in the NCAA for Brigham Young University. He graduated with a political science degree with a minor in communications. Linkletter competed well for the Cougars with several strong performances including clocking a 29:42.50 10,000m time during the 2018 NCAA Championships.

He went on to represent Canada in the 2019 Aarhus World Cross Country Championships.

Sunday’s performance was a 36-second improvement from his half-marathon best time of 61:44, from his run in Houston in 2020.

Personal bests

  • 5000m – 13:36.41 – 2019
  • 10,000m – 28:12.42 – 2019
  • Half-marathon – 61:08 – 2022
  • Marathon – 2:12:54 – 2020
  • Marathon – 2:12:52* – 2021 (*Sacramento, not legal for records or World Championships or Olympic standards)

Christopher Kelsall: Congratulations on your national record in Houston over the half-marathon distance as well as the on-the-way records. Going into the race what were your expectations?

Rory Linkletter: I knew I was primed for a national record, everything in training pointed to the ability to run right at 61 minutes. I knew racing Ben Flanagan was going to be the biggest challenge, he’s a fierce competitor and will definitely be challenging that record in the future.

Rory Linkletter and Scott Fauble. Photo credit: Johnny Zhang Instagram:@jzsnapz website: https://www.jzsnapz.com/

CK: Can you take me through the race? How did it roll out in comparison to your plan, were there any surges by competitors? Were you surprised you were able to drop the pace over the final few kms?

The race went out fairly conservative and allowed for me to tuck in with the lead pack and relax throughout the first 10k. At 10k we surged and ran our next 5k faster than any other part of the race. I believe we were about 14:15 for that 5k stretch. This was when I knew the record was on the table and that I was feeling poised for a special day. It was in that 5k stretch that Ben Flanagan showed his first signs of fatigue and the race within the race really blew open. I passed him somewhere in that 5k stretch and knew that if I could run well the final 6k the record was mine!

I ran terrified throughout that final 5k fearing I was too close for comfort. It wasn’t until 20k that I knew I was going to get it. I was extremely pumped to see the clock as I rounded the final turn. This was a long time coming.

CK: Would you suggest that the Houston performance points to a two to three-minute improvement for the marathon, bringing you down to 2:09?

RL: The marathon and the half are two very different events but do complement one another. I have felt that I was capable of 2:09 for quite some time.

CK: Have you decided on your next marathon?

RL: I will target something fast in the fall, nothing is certain though.

On hiring Ryan Hall as coach

CK: You recently hired Ryan Hall as your coach. What are some of the primary differences between Ryan’s approach versus what you did previously?

RL: Ryan has helped me reshape my idea of fast, we’ve done some really fast long sustained runs and that’s been a fun new wrinkle.

CK: How fast and long versus your marathon pace?

I most notably did a nine-mile threshold @ 4:44 per mile pace feeling very good in the heat of training. I’d never done more than 5 miles at that pace in training. I also did a 15-mile sub-threshold at my current marathon PB pace and it felt like a jog.

CK: What kind of runner are you? Do you enjoy the long runs or prefer quality sessions. Do you see the sport of distance running as a lifelong thing or will you one day, after retirement just not run?

RL: I tend to like quality sessions most, but sometimes those can be quite long. I just really like to test myself, I see myself as a lifelong runner.

CK: Having run 28:12.42 do you have 27-something on your mind. Will you go after it?

RL: I most certainly would like to break 28 minutes, going after it largely depends on opportunity and training aligning.

Brigham Young university and growing up in Calgary

CK: How did BYU inform your growth and attitude towards training?

RL: We trained really hard and I really blossomed there, it’s where I started to envision running becoming my career.

CK: Being from Calgary, a Winter Olympic and hockey town, how did you get into running?

RL: I fell into running, I simply was a small kid that luckily found himself at cross-country practice in the summer before my Grade 9 year.

CK: Does the rest of your family run or enjoy sports or recreation?

RL: All of my family is into sport, however, I was the first runner in the family. My dad was a pretty talented hockey player and all my siblings are collegiate level athletes in their respective sports.

World Championships or Commonwealth Games?

CK: With 2022 being a World Championships and Commonwealth Games year, which way are you leaning?

RL: I’m leaning toward whichever opportunity is presented to me. Seeing as I don’t have a standard in the marathon and no real plans of chasing a 10k, it may not happen for me in 2022.

CK: It’s early days with Ryan Hall, however, regarding weekly volume. Do you have an idea of what your weekly base volume will look like and how does that compare to your past few years?

RL: To be determined, I didn’t do a ton of volume before Houston but plan on doing more than ever once the time is right.

CK: Paris 2024 is and isn’t a long way off. Will you tackle that as a goal mentally starting in January 2024 or is that goal informing your process now with training, load adaptions, and shorter-term goals?

RL: The plan is to be on the marathon team in 2024, whatever it takes. That is informing all my decisions in the coming years.

CK: With your political science major will you look at law post-athletics career? You minored in communications, anything there to do with journalism, or are you more of a marketing type person?

RL: I am currently working two jobs – I’m an online coach and a part of Streamline Athletes sales team. I think both of those could blossom into more of a career.

CK: What is culturally interesting to you? For example, are you into music, visual arts, movies? What is hot on your play list or must watch movie list?

I’m definitely more of a podcast guy than a music or movie guy. I consume a lot of sports podcasts like Pardon My Take, The Bill Simmons Podcast, and The Ryen Russillo Show.

CK: Next goal and goal race for 2022?

RL: I want to win a road championship and compete in some of the bigger U.S.-based road races this spring and summer.