Athletics Canada announced in their high performance newsletter recently that the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will serve as an automatic qualifier for the 2020 Olympic marathon team.
The first Canadian man and woman across the line, provided that they have met Athletics Canada’s standard in the event, will be named to the Olympic team. While Olympic standard hasn’t been released yet, the 2019 world championship standard is 2:37 for the women and 2:16 for the men.
This will be a huge draw for elite Canadian runners, and make the race within the race very interesting. The only potential issue is that the world championship marathon is only days apart from STWM, and therefore impossible for a runner to compete in both events.
In his most recent blog post, Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet discussed the drawbacks and exciting aspects of this decision. “Also, someone like Cam Levins, who should easily qualify for Tokyo may want to race Worlds in Doha (both STWM and Doha are in October). What would prepare Cam better for the Tokyo Olympics? Another paced marathon in cool temps (he’s running London this April) or, running a championship race in hot conditions? (Tokyo is forecasted to be very hot) Otherwise Tokyo will be his first championship marathon and probably his first hot marathon.”
Coolsaet jokes that he’s simply trying to convince Levins to run Doha. The past three Olympic marathon teams have been named based on time alone, taking the fastest of the runners who achieved Athletics Canada’s named standard. Creating one auto-qualifier position means that a runner who hasn’t necessarily run the fastest time, or maybe even in the top five best times, could win and make an Olympic team because they raced well on that given day.
The women’s marathon is particularly strong at the moment with eight women having run under the world standard. With depth like that, it’s likely that many of those women will be interested in securing their place on the team with an automatic spot.