Canada’s Ben Preisner ran an incredible marathon debut of 2:10:17 at The Marathon Project in Chandler, Ariz., on Sunday morning. Well under the Olympic standard of 2:11:30, Preisner has given himself a great chance at being named to the Canadian team for Tokyo 2021. Two minutes back of Preisner, Cam Levins ran to a 15th-place finish in 2:12:15, 45 seconds off the Olympic standard. Fellow Canadians Rory Linkletter and Justin Kent were also in the race, running 2:12:54 and 2:17:22, respectively.
Ben Preisner first Canadian across the line in 2:10:17!! First official marathon, under Oly qualifying time. Congrats, Ben!
— Canadian Running (@CanadianRunning) December 20, 2020
A dream debut
Preisner has run a hard marathon before, but that was a solo time trial earlier in 2020. He ran an impressive 2:15:24 back then, but he smashed that PB on Sunday in his official marathon debut. He finished in ninth place in what was easily the most stacked field of any North American race in 2020, and his time is as close to a guaranteed ticket to the Tokyo Olympics as a Canadian marathoner can get right now (unless you’re Trevor Hofbauer or Dayna Pidhoresky, both of whom have locked their spots on the Canadian squad for 2021).
Tristan Woodfine is the only other Canadian man to have run under the Olympic standard this year. He ran to a 2:10:51 finish at the London Marathon in October, and as it stands right now, he has a pretty good shot at heading to Tokyo as well.
Preisner’s run is the fourth-fastest in Canadian history, and it is easily the one of the quickest debuts ever run by a Canuck. He finished just eight seconds off Jerome Drayton‘s former national marathon record, a time that so many Canadians chased for more than four decades. Preisner has had decent success at the half-marathon (he owns the seventh-fastest time in national history with a 1:03:08 PB), but as he showed the world today, his talents seem to lie at the full marathon distance.
Levins ran to a 30K national record of 1:31:44 on Sunday, but that was unfortunately the high point of his day. For much of the marathon, he looked like he was on his way to the Olympic standard, and for a while it even looked like he could break his own national record of 2:09:25. But he faded in the latter stages of the run, and was eventually caught and passed by Preisner. Moving toward 2021, he will have to run at least one more marathon if he wants a shot at joining the Canadian team at the Tokyo Games.
Linkletter may have fallen short of standard as well, but he posted a massive PB of close to four minutes, improving on his 2:16:42 from STWM in 2019. Still just 24 years old, Linkletter has plenty of time to improve in the marathon, and like Preisner, he has proven that he is incredibly talented on the roads.
Kent finished in 2:17:22, and while this likely isn’t the time he was hoping to run, it was the first marathon of his career. He has had a great 2020 season, and he can now head into 2021 with the experience of a hard-fought marathon under his belt.
For full results from The Marathon Project, click here.