The 2020 London Marathon is only 11 days away. This race, which will see the highly-anticipated match up between Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, also has a compelling Canadian story in Tristan Woodfine. The Cobden, Ont. native, who’s now living just 20 minutes down the road from his hometown and working with his high school coach, Greg Kealey, ran a 2:13:16 marathon at STWM last October, after quietly improving at the distance over the past five years. Now, less than a year out from the Tokyo Olympics, he’s ready to run standard – and asking himself how far under 2:11:30 he can go.
The Olympic standard of 2:11:30 feels attainable for Woodfine, who says this build has been by far his best yet. “I got eight weeks into the build before the April race, which was cancelled, and I thought that it was going really well. But now, this most recent build has been way beyond anything I’ve done before. I’ve got a lot of confidence going into this race. I think I can run standard, and I want to see how far under standard I can get.”
Being capable of running a time and actually running a time are, of course, two different things. Woodfine says a lot will come down to weather and pace groups on the day. “I know there’s a group hoping to run standard, but then I’m wondering who will be between them and the front of the pack. I know the 2:02 group, I know the 2:10 group, but I don’t know the in-between group yet.”
Woodfine is hesitant to put a number on it, but if he’s looking to run ahead of the 2:10 group, that would put him on Canadian record pace. The current national marathon record is held by Cam Levins at 2:09:25. Levins will also be in the October 4 race.
The process of running a marathon in 2020
Woodfine is hoping to leave for London on Sunday, but first he needs to get a negative COVID test. “I’m going this morning, but it’s been taking people seven to 10 days to get their results back, so hopefully it doesn’t take too long.” Once he’s got the test results, he’ll fly from Ottawa to Montreal and then to London.
Upon arrival, someone will pick him up from the airport and take him to a hotel that is in a bio-secure bubble. Then, he has to get a second COVID test upon arrival, and a third the Friday before race day. He will have his own room and must wear a mask any time he leaves it. Athletes are supposed to remain separated in the week leading up to the race. The first time they’ll be together is on race day.
Despite the unprecedented times we’re living through, Woodfine is confident and hopeful about London. “This race has been on the radar since it was postponed in March. The Olympics got postponed, so it seemed like everything would be pushed back. We kept the hope that London would happen, and there were times that it seemed unlikely, but in the beginning of July, London reached out and said they were going to try to do an elite-only race. That was 14 weeks out, so we had enough time to do a full marathon build.”
The race goes on October 4 at 7:00 a.m. local time.