Canadian Ben Flanagan ran his debut half-marathon on Sunday at a small race in South Carolina, and he posted one of the fastest times in Canadian history to take the win. Despite never having raced a full 21.1K, Flanagan — an Olympic hopeful in the 5,000m and 10,000m — ran to a blazing-fast time of 1:03:19, which puts him in 10th all-time among Canadians. Flanagan has only raced twice since February, but his brief transition to the road couldn’t have gone better, and he looks to be in great shape heading into 2021.
A patient race
Flanagan, a former University of Michigan runner and NCAA 10,000m champion, may have won the race by a healthy margin of 19 seconds, but his victory wasn’t a sure thing until the late stages of the run. The course followed a 6.4K loop, and very early on, Flanagan and eventual second-place finisher Matthew McClintock of Maine were dropped by Kenya’s Athanas Kioko. Flanagan and McClintock ran together for much of the race before the 25-year-old Canadian pulled away for sole possession of second place. Not long after that, Flanagan overtook Kioko (who was also eventually caught by McClintock) and carried on to take the win. McClintock took second place in 1:03:38 and Kioko held onto third in 1:03:47.
Trying something new
After the race, Flanagan posted on Instagram, writing, “Tested out the half-marathon this weekend and am happy to walk away with a W and by-default PR. Really pleased with the decision to get creative during a year with limited racing opportunities and fully intend to return to the track a stronger athlete.”
While Flanagan won’t be making a career of road racing just yet, he has certainly shown the running world that he has promise at the longer distances. With his time, he sits just behind Olympian Reid Coolsaet (1:03:16) on the all-time Canadian list, and he will have plenty of opportunities in the future to climb higher than 10th place.