Rob Watson and Natasha Wodak of Vancouver, BC are heading to Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon that will take place on Sunday January 19th. Watson and Wodak are both coming off of bridesmaid performances at the Harrier’s Pioneer 8k in Victoria, BC. Sunday’s Pioneer 8k is the provincial 8k championships. It was their first race of the 2014 road season.
Watson raced in four marathons during 2013 including achieving a personal best 2:13:29 on October 20th at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as well as competing in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia on August 17th. He looks to improve his current fitness this winter to take a run at the Vancouver First Half – Half Marathon course record in February as well as compete in the New York City Half Marathon March 21st, “For Phoenix, sub-65:00 is the main goal, I’d be very happy with 64:30. After Phoenix I’m going to chase the course record here in Vancouver at the 1st half on Feb 16th, then hopefully dip under 63:00 at the NYC half in March,” said Watson, who owns a personal best half-marathon time of 63:22, which he set at the New York City course in 2013.
After a brilliant breakout year in 2013 for Wodak, she finally met with a sub-par performance during the 2014 Harrier’s Pioneer 8k and will be seeking a strong bounce-back race in Phoenix. Although she continues to work on her early season fitness, Pioneer didn’t live up to expectations. Her performance in 2013 saw her finish sixth overall and take the Canadian 8k record time in 25:28. She also set the highest performance standard all-time for the competitive Frontrunners Vancouver Island Race Series. Wodak went onto represent Canada at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championships, which she won outright assisting Team Canada to a team gold medal. She also competed in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Wodak will be seeking an opportunity to race a marathon during the fall 2014. She ran well in her debut at the distance during the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She finished in 2:35 – on the same day that Lanni Marchant took the Canadian record of 2:28:00. Meanwhile, for Phoenix, Wodak is seeking a sub-1:14 performance. The Canadian record is 1:12:06, held by Tara Quinn-Smith.
Wodak finished second to Nanaimo’s Erin Burrett at the Harrier’s Pioneer 8k in 27:21 to Burrett’s 27:13 – a breakout performance for Burrett. Watson, took the field out in a very fast 2:48 first kilometre. He held onto the lead for as long as possible to “create stimulus” and “blow the carbon out” he told Athletics Illustrated. He succumbed to the course record pace (22:40) and fell to defending champion, Geoff Martinson at the 5.5 km mark, finishing second overall.
Watson and Wodak run for the newly created BC Endurance Project in Vancouver that is headed by long-time endurance coach Richard Lee, who also coaches Canada’s top marathon runner, Dylan Wykes . Lee coached his wife, Sue Lee, where she competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in the 10,000 metre event. He is one of the most successful distance coaches in Canada.