Unsponsored and now one of Canada’s fastest half-marathoners.

Rachel Cliff, racing her second career 21K, finished eighth at the United Airlines NYC Half on Sunday morning running 1:12:07. She was the only Canadian to finish in the top-10. Eric Gillis, who finished 10th at the Olympics in the marathon, ran 1:03:49 for 16th, just off his PB of 1:03:30. Lanni Marchant, who raced both the 10,000m and marathon in Rio, ran 1:13:49 on a cool morning in Manhattan to finish 16th.

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Cliff, who resides in Vancouver and trains with the B.C. Endurance Project, took three minutes off her personal best dating back to 2014 when she ran 1:15:04 at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Vancouver Half-Marathon. Since then, the 28-year-old has focused mainly on shorter distances hitting the 5,000m qualifying standard for Canada for the 2016 Olympics, though she did not earn a spot on the team.

The Canadian half-marathon record, held by Marchant, is 1:10:47. Sunday’s United Airlines NYC Half is one of the most popular road races in the United States with more than 20,000 runners beginning in Central Park and finishing at the southern point of Manhattan.

RELATED: Feyisa Lilesa continues to protest home government, this time at NYC Half.

The qualifying period for the 2018 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships has not yet opened for Canada so Cliff will need to replicate a sub-1:16 performance to be eligible to run in Valencia, Spain in 2018. She has lifetime bests of 32:21 in the 10,000m and 15:28 in the 5,000m, according to the IAAF. It’s unofficially ranked as the fifth fastest “open” half-marathon in Canadian history, according to Athletics Canada’s all-time rankings.

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At the front of the pack, Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa won the men’s race crossing his arms above his head to form an “X” as he ran through the finish line. As he did when he won a silver medal at the Olympics in the men’s marathon, Lelisa’s gesture is a protest against the Ethiopian government in solidarity with the Oromo people, the largest ethnic tribe in the Horn of Africa. He ran 1:00:04 to defeat Callum Hawkins by four seconds.

Meanwhile, American Molly Huddle completed the three-peat in New York City winning the United NYC Half for the third consecutive year. The American record holder in the both the 5,000m and 10,000m ran 1:08:19 to better Emily Sisson, who made her half-marathon debut running 1:08:21. Sisson and Huddle are training partners.

Live results can be found here.


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