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Rory Linkletter tops Lauren Paquette in NAZ Elite virtual 5K showdown

Linkletter was able to overcome Paquette's two-minute head start to grab the win by seven seconds

The Hoka One One Northern Arizona (NAZ) Elite team competed in the NYRR Virutal 5K today from their training base in Flagstaff, Ariz. Canadian Rory Linkletter, who joined the NAZ Elite last July after graduating from BYU, faced off against teammate Lauren Paquette of the U.S. in a 5K time trial. The two ran at separate times, but on the same route in Flagstaff. Paquette was given a two-minute “handicap,” meaning to win, her official time had to be within two minutes of Linkletter’s. It was a close race, but Linkletter managed to (virtually) chase Paquette down, winning the face-off by seven seconds.

Linkletter vs. Paquette

Paquette has a 5,000m PB of 15:14.45, which she set in 2016 at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University. In the last couple of years, she has registered some good results at the distance, including a second-place finish at the 2018 NACAC Championships in Toronto and sixth at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

RELATED: Linkletter nails his first half-marathon at Houston

Linkletter owns a 5,000m PB of 13:36.41, which he ran in 2019 at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif. In 2018, he placed sixth in the 5,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships, and later that spring he finished eighth in the same event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He has also shown promise at longer road events, like the half and full marathon, with PBs of 1:01:44 (just 16 seconds off the Canadian half-marathon record) and 2:16:42 in each distance.

The one-on-one race

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Paquette ran first, and she started out hot with a 3:10 opening kilometre. Had she been able to maintain this pace, she would have won the time trial by a landslide. She faded considerably in the second kilometre, though, posting a 3:28. From there, she ran 3:25, 3:33, 3:30. Her official time was 17:09, meaning that to win, Linkletter had to run 15:08 or better.

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Like Paquette, he got things off to a quick start, running the first kilometre in 2:55. Like Paquette, he faded over the next bit, but not by nearly as much, only dropping to 3:05 for his slowest kilometre. He closed with another 2:55 kilometre to cross the line in 15:02, winning the time trial by seven seconds.

It wasn’t televised, and it wasn’t a big race by any means, but the Linkletter-Paquette showdown was something to look forward to and a fun battle to follow. If the racing season stays on hold over the next few months, hopefully more elite athletes will come up with similar challenges for the running community to watch.