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Natasha Wodak and Ben Flanagan win Canadian 10K Championship

At 40, Vancouver's Natasha Wodak is back on the top of the podium at the Canadian 10K Championships in Ottawa

Photo by: Victah Sailer, PhotoRun

In the first Canadian road championship of the year, thousands of runners returned to Ottawa to compete for the Canadian 10K title. Olympian Natasha Wodak returned to the top of the podium, winning the women’s title in 32:42, while on the men’s side, it was once again Ben Flanagan to break the tape, successfully defending his 10K title in 28:40.

Natasha Wodak of Vancouver is your 2022 Canadian 10K champion in 32:42. Photo: Canadian Running

Conditions in the nation’s capital were warm around 23 C to start the race. Many of the athletes went out at quicker paces than expected. The lead men clocked 2:42 in the first kilometre, which is 27:00 10K pace, an entire minute ahead of the Canadian record of 28:17. The pace slowed over the next few kilometres, where the lead group of Luc Bruchet, Rory Linkletter, Thomas Fafard and Flanagan settled in. The group of four split 14:26 at the halfway point and after Flanagan made his move.

Bruchet and Linkletter attached on the heels of Flanagan until about six and a half kilometres, before falling 10 to 20 metres behind. Flanagan negative split the final 5K in a speedy 14:14 to win the race in 28:40, two seconds faster than his championship time last fall. Linkletter was second in 29:02, while Bruchet finished third in 29:05.

Ben Flanagan won his second straight Canadian 10K title in 28:40. Photo: Canadian Running

“The race was awesome, but it felt hard,” Flanagan says. “Linkletter and Bruchet pushed me early on. I tried to stay relaxed.” 

Flanagan had his family and friends at the finish line along the Rideau Canal, pointing to his mom and dad over the final 200m metres. “I tried to give a bit of a show,” Flanagan says. “The crowd came out to support and I heard their voices and cheering all along the course.”

“I am unsure about what’s next for me.” says the 27-year-old from Kitchener, Ont. “I plan to go back to my camp in Ann Arbor, Mich., and figure out my next step.”

One of the major storylines heading into the race was the battle between Leslie Sexton and Wodak for the women’s title. The two were out well under the Canadian record pace through two kilometres, while the lead switched back and forth. Wodak managed to pull slightly ahead of Sexton at the 3K mark but didn’t seem to shake off Sexton until the Bronson Ave. hill, just before the 5K mark.

Wodak crossed the halfway point in 16:07, three seconds ahead of Sexton. “I felt I handled the downhills well,” Wodak says. Her move came around the seven-kilometre mark as the wind shifted behind the runners over the final few kilometres. “I didn’t know how much of a gap I had until a spectator mentioned it with one kilometre to go,” says Wodak.

The 40-year runner from Vancouver crossed the line in first to win her second straight national 10K title in Ottawa, winning her last in 2019. Sexton was the second woman to finish in 32:56 and Sasha Gollish of Toronto, Ont., was third in 33:03.

It’s been three years since the championship race last took place in Ottawa, but Wodak says it felt like the race weekend vibe never left. 

Wodak will now turn her attention to the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Manitoba on June 19, then hopes to build for a marathon in the fall.

Here are the full results from the 2022 Canadian 10K Championships in Ottawa.