Houston Half-Marathon

Photo: Alan Brookes/Canada Running Series.

The athlete declaration deadline for the World Half Marathon Championships (Jan. 31) and the team selection date (Feb. 1) are coming up, and several Canadian athletes have already dipped under the Athletics Canada time standards of 1:06:00 for men and 1:16:00 for women.

Within the qualifying period of April 23, 2017 to Jan. 31 2018, seven men and 14 women have run faster than standard. The spots on the team, however, are limited: only up to four men and four women will be selected.

RELATED: Natasha Wodak and Kinsey Middleton detail knockout Houston-Half Performances

On Jan. 14, a large contingent of Canadian athletes travelled south to race the Houston Half-Marathon in the hopes of climbing up the national half-marathon rankings and land their spot on the World Championship team to book their ticket to Valencia, Spain.

It was mission accomplished for Geoff Martinson of Vancouver and Evan Esselink of Guelph. Canada’s top two male finishers at the Houston Half both enjoyed PBs. Martinson, whose clocking of 1:03:38 stands as the fastest time run by a Canadian in the qualifying period, is now a shoo-in for the team. He was satisfied with his race, but hopes to get to run even faster in Valencia.

“I am happy to see my fitness progressing in the right direction,” he said. “I had hoped for a faster time, but it will give me something to shoot for at the World Half championships. I was not too sure of my splits throughout the race, but I kept up to a couple of American runners, and we ran in a pack of three. The last part of the race is challenging, so I’m grateful to have to have had guys around me to chase.”

Esselink, the 2017 Canadian 10,000m champion, is now the second-ranked eligible half marathoner in the country, thanks to a PB of 1:04:08. He looks forward to representing Canada in Spain. “Today’s goal was to run under 64 minutes,” he said. “But, to come just shy of my time goal, and to qualify for the World Half championships, I am really happy with it. I was able to lock in with the lead marathon pack. Their pace was perfect for me.”

On the women’s side, Natasha Wodak, thanks to her Houston clocking of 1:11:31, is now the fastest female qualifier for the World Championship. Recently selected to represent Team Canada in the 10,000m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, she could be looking at a busy next few months.  “My goal was to run 1:12 and feel good, and I accomplished both those things,” said Wodak. “Kinsey (Middleton) and I had the same goal and so we decided to run together. A lot of other girls went out really hard, and we stayed back and followed our plan – it worked.”

Dual-citizen Middleton has experienced an astronomic breakthrough in the last few months, dropping nearly four minutes off her half-marathon best time. She now ranks third among eligible Canadian women (behind Wodak and Rachel Cliff), thanks to her new PB of 1:12:29. She enjoyed her experience in Houston, and hopes to get selected to represent Canada in Valencia, Spain. “I would love to go (to the championship). I would be so proud to represent Canada in my first world championship ever. Fingers crossed!”

Due to numerous Canadians posting fast times within the qualifying period, athletes having run times well under the standards, such as Blair Morgan, will potentially miss out on the opportunity to represent their country. Morgan, who posted a time of 1:05:06 on Sunday, is currently ranked outside of the top four, but is taking his rank in stride.

“It would be nice to be in the top four, but to be that close to making a World’s team is a great place to be,”said the 24-year-old. “My goal going in was to be competitive within the Canadian contingent. I’m happy with the outcome and the time (at Houston).”

In selecting athletes, Athletics Canada will adhere to the following guidelines (from athletics.ca – IAAF World Half Marathon Championship: Selection Criteria)

  • The top finishing eligible Canadian athlete at the 2017 Half Marathon Championships in Calgary, will be automatically selected; provided they achieve the Qualifying Standard within the Qualifying Period.
    • Note: The 2017 Half Marathon Championships winner, Kip Kangogo, has not run under standard in the qualifying period.
  • For selection purposes ties will be broken in the following priority order:
  • 1) Best performance within the Qualifying Period
    2) Head-to-head results within the Qualifying Period
    3) Most recently achieved standard

All the men below standard:

  • Geoff Martinson (CAN) 1:03:38
  • Evan Esselink (CAN) 1:04:08
  • Cameron Levins (CAN) 1:05.00
  • Sami Jibril (CAN) 1:05.06
  • Blair Morgan (CAN) 1:05:06
  • Yves Sikubwabo (CAN) 1:05.37
  • Kevin Blackney (CAN) 1:05:43

All the women below standard.

  • Natasha Wodak (CAN) 1:11:31
  • Rachel Cliff (CAN) 1:11:52
  • Kinsey Middleton (USA/CAN) 1:12:55
  • Sasha Gollish (CAN) 1:12:55
  • Sarah Inglis (CAN) 1:13:36
  • Dayna Pidhoresky (CAN) 1:13:45
  • Victoria Coates (CAN) 1:13:45
  • Emily Setlack (CAN) 1:13:59
  • Lyndsay Tessier (CAN) 1:14:29
  • Cleo Boyd (CAN) 1:14:44
  • Tarah Korir (CAN) 1:15:08
  • Lioudmila Kortchaguina (CAN) 1:15:40
  • Melanie Myrand (CAN) 1:15:50
  • Arianne Raby (CAN) 1:15:54


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