Despite having limited opportunities to race this year, Justin Kent and Natasha Wodak have had great seasons. The pair of B.C. runners have both run half-marathon PBs in 2020, they took the wins in the virtual Canadian 10K Championships in July and they’re both headed to Arizona in December to compete in the Marathon Project with some of the top marathoners in North America. Over the weekend, they added another couple of big results to their lists of accomplishments for 2020, with Kent breaking the Canadian 20,000m track record in 1:01:01 on Saturday and Wodak coming close to the national half-marathon record with a 1:10:01 showing at the Fierce Half Marathon in B.C. on Sunday.
Snuck another big smile out of this guy yesterday. 20000m Canadian Record in 61:01. A true privilege to be able to race during these times @BC_Athletics @AthleticsCanada @mile2marathon #justbutter pic.twitter.com/c9HPuTk9tG
— Justin Kent (@jkent_) November 8, 2020
Kent’s 20,000m record
Kent’s 20,000m best is his first Canadian record. Tom Howard was the previous record-holder in the 20,000m with a time of 1:01:10, which he set in 1974. Kent’s result works out to an average pace of 3:03 per kilometre, and while this was on the track and not the road, the result is proof that he’s in tremendous form with just over a month to go until the Marathon Project, which is set for December 20. The race will be his debut marathon, and he’ll undoubtedly be chasing the Olympic standard of 2:11:30.
Kent was supposed to run for Team Canada at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Poland in October, but Athletics Canada pulled out of the race just days before it was held due to health and safety concerns. In lieu of the world championships race, he ran a solo half-marathon and set his PB of 62:34. With that result and his shiny new Canadian record, Kent will be a runner to watch at the Marathon Project and beyond in 2021.
Wodak’s near miss
Earlier in 2020, Wodak became the first Canadian woman to run sub-1:10 in the half-marathon when she ran a 1:09:41 at the Houston Half Marathon in January to set the national record in the event. She only got to enjoy the record for two weeks, though, because in February, Andrea Seccafien ran 1:09:38 at a race in Japan, which is the current Canadian best. Wodak, who owns the 10,000m national record with a time of 31:41.59, was looking to lower the half-marathon bar once again at the Fierce Half Marathon on Sunday, but she came up just short. Still, her 1:10:01 is the third-fastest time in Canadian history, and if she had run it in any other year, it would have been the national record.
Even though she couldn’t beat Seccafien’s time on Sunday, this result is a good sign for Wodak, and it looks like she is in great form just six weeks out from the Marathon Project. Unlike Kent, Wodak has run a marathon before, but just once — seven years ago when she posted a 2:35:16 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013. This is basically her Debut 2.0 at the distance, and based on her last few years of results, it would be safe to bet that she will smash her marathon PB. Wodak will have her eye on the Olympic standard of 2:29:30 in Arizona, and she’ll have dozens of the best road runners in North America to work with as she chases that time.