As expected, The Marathon Project was one of the best races of the year. Sara Hall ran the race of her life, Natasha Wodak proved she can compete at any distance and Ben Preisner showed the world that he has the potential to be Canada’s next marathon record holder. There’s a lot to unpack from the race, but to get us started, here are five things that The Marathon Project showed us on Sunday.
Qualifying just got way harder
Only Dayna Pidhoresky and Trevor Hofbauer have guaranteed spots on the Canadian marathon team for the Tokyo Games, but Preisner’s and Wodak’s results just made qualifying for the upcoming Olympics way harder for Canadian marathoners. The Canadian team has three spots for the men and three for the women, two of which already belong to Pidhoresky and Hofbauer, and although running the fastest time doesn’t guarantee a runner’s position on Team Canada, it certainly helps their case.
On the women’s side, Malindi Elmore is the next-closest person to a lock for the team, as she ran the national record of 2:24:50 earlier in 2020, well below the Olympic standard of 2:29:30. Wodak’s 2:26:19 run at The Marathon Project gave her the second-fastest Canadian marathon of all time. On the men’s side, Preisner’s 2:10:17 is the fourth-fastest in Canadian history and the second-fastest during the current Olympic qualifying window (behind Hofbauer’s 2:09:51 from 2019). Tristan Woodfine has also run standard (which is 2:11:30 for the men) with his 2:10:51 result at the London Marathon. Anyone else who wants to race in Tokyo next summer will now not only have to run Olympic standard, but they will also probably have to beat these athletes who currently sit ahead of them.
Sara Hall could break the American record
In October, Hall ran one of the fastest marathons in U.S. history with her 2:22:01 in London. This was a fantastic race, but it was still way off Deena Kastor‘s American record of 2:19:36. A little over two months later, though, Hall managed to run even faster, posting a 2:20:32 at The Marathon Project. This is the second-fastest marathon ever run by an American woman, and it’s less than a minute behind Kastor’s record. That’s still a big chunk of time to shave off Hall’s new PB, but her run in Arizona is proof that she is a serious threat to become the American record holder.
Preisner and Linkletter are the future
Preisner had the best race of the day among the Canadian men, but fellow young-gun Rory Linkletter also ran to an impressive 2:12:54 PB. Both runners are just 24 years old, and they’re so new to the marathon. They had already shown the Canadian running community their potential in the half-marathon (Preisner has a 1:03:08 PB and Linkletter has run 1:01:44), but their runs in Arizona have now proven that they have what it takes to be great marathoners, too. Don’t be surprised to see both men rise through the ranks on the all-time list of national marathoners, because they look like they’re the future of Canadian road running.
D’Amato is the real deal
American Keira D’Amato also had the race of her life on Sunday, running an enormous 11-minute PB with a final time of 2:22:56. D’Amato has had an incredible season, running a 15:04 5K time trial, winning the Michigan Pro Half-Marathon in 1:08:57 and setting the U.S. 10-mile record of 51:23. Now, she has one of the best marathon results in American history. D’Amato won’t be running on the U.S. Olympic marathon team (that was set at the U.S. Trials in February), but it looks like she’ll be one of the best American runners moving into 2021.
Wodak is capable of more
The Marathon Project was essentially Wodak’s second debut at the distance. She had run one marathon before, but that was in 2013 — a lifetime ago. She now owns the second-fastest time in Canadian history, and she’s just getting started in the marathon. As she gains more experience over 42.2K, she will almost certainly get faster. How much faster is yet to be determined, but based on her Debut 2.0, it looks like she could eventually challenge Elmore’s national record.