On Sunday, Andrea Seccafien ran a Canadian half-marathon record of 1:09:38 at the Marugame Half-Marathon in Japan. Her time broke the record set by Natasha Wodak in Houston only two weeks ago at 1:09:41.
Seccafien’s moved around a lot in the last five years. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 2013, unsure about the future of her running career. She moved to Toronto in 2015 and joined Ross Ristuccia and Terry Radchenko, who both coached for the University of Toronto Track Club. From there, she would go on to qualify for her first Olympic team in 2016 in the 5,000m.
Seccafien continued to train in Toronto through the 2017 season, and following the World Championships made the move to Australia, where she joined the Melbourne Track Club (one of the most successful clubs in the world) and seriously upped her game. The runner made the 2019 World Championship 5,000m final, placing 13th and running sub-15 for the first time in her career. Her goal for 2020 is to make the Olympics in the 10,000m, a new event for her, and better her position from the 2019 World Championships. “Living in Toronto was only two and a half years ago but it feels like a lifetime,” Seccafien says. “Back then I never would’ve thought that the half-marathon was the record I would’ve broken. Then I was sure that the 5K was my maximum distance.”
The half-marathon was step one in that process of moving to the 10,000m. Seccafien explains that Australia doesn’t have indoor tracks (because it’s way too hot) and she doesn’t like running their outdoor season, so she opted for the roads for winter racing. “The goal was to run 3:18 kilometers–based on training I figured that was possible. That would’ve seen me run a 1:09:30. I thought worst case I’d run a 1:09:59.”
The Olympic standard in the 10,000m is steep. Runners need a 31:25.00 to (nearly) guarantee their spot on the start line. To put that time into perspective, it would be a Canadian record. But Seccafien thinks she can do it. “The 5,000m is too crazy. You have to be able to run a 3:59 1,500m to even be competitive, and I can’t do that. So I’m moving to the 10,000m. I’m going to run at Payton Jordan this April and hopefully qualify there.”
But Seccafien’s distance increase isn’t stopping at the 10K. She says she wants to move to the marathon in 2021. “I think I’ll be done with the track after the next World Championships, but sometimes I change my mind. I’m really fickle about it. I’ll do a half-marathon style workout and think, ‘man that sucked’.”
The Canadian women’s marathon scene is on fire and Seccafien will be an interesting addition. When asked if she was surprised about Malindi Elmore’s huge Canadian marathon record, she said no. “Malindi’s just a really good runner, like a 4:02 1,500m [Elmore’s track PB] is really fast. So I’m not shocked that she was able to also run a great marathon.”
Age is just a number
Another reason that Seccafien wasn’t shocked by Elmore’s performance is because she trains with Sinead Diver, a 2:24 marathon who happens to be in her forties. “Sinead is kind of my hero. She only started running eight years ago. She’s got a job and two awesome kids and a house. She’s such a normal person who also runs really fast. She’s serious, too–she comes to practice and gets the work done and never complains. Malindi sounds similar–I think it’s a special kind of person who can do what they’re doing.”
As for coming home to Canada, Seccafien has no plans. “It all depends where Jamie [her fiance] gets a job and what I end up doing post-running. Right now the plan is law school.”
But for now, she’s focused on training. Up next for Seccafien are the World Half-Marathon Championships in Poland in March.