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Breaking down the Canadian women’s Olympic marathon selection

A look at the 10 Canadian women with a shot at three Olympic spots

The Canadian marathon scene is on fire–especially on the women’s side. The Canadian Olympic marathon teams will be selected on May 31, two months ahead of the rest of the team. Currently there are about 10 women with a shot at three spots on the team. The qualification window for the marathon opened January 1, 2019 and closes May 31, 2020. The times listed below are what the women have run during the qualification period, not lifetime personal bests.

Here’s a look at the woman and their chance at the upcoming games. As Krista DuChene put it, it won’t be easy for Athletics Canada to select a team, but that’s a good problem to have.

Dayna Pidhoresky – Canadian champion

Photo: Maxine Gravina

Pidhoresky is the only Canadian woman who’s made the team so far. She’s the 2019 Canadian Marathon Champion, with Olympic standard, which means she’s on the team. Pidhoresky was a surprise victor at the championships in a huge personal best of 2:29:03, just under the Olympic standard of 2:29:30. Her personal best before that race was a 2:36:08.

Malindi Elmore – 2:24:50

Elmore recently became the Canadian record0-holder, running a blazing 2:24:50 to place third at the Houston Marathon. Elmore has nearly guaranteed her spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Her time is now the fastest-ever run by a Canadian, and barring someone beating the new record, she’s likely earned her place. However, the runner won’t be chasing a faster time between now and the team selection.

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Elmore is going to take a much-needed break over the next few days. She just started her coaching job at UBC Okanagan, so she’s looking forward to throwing herself into that. For now she doesn’t have any big running plans. “I don’t think I’m going to run another marathon. This spring I’ll do some halfs, shorter road races and maybe hop on the track for a 10,000m. If between now and the Olympic team selection someone runs faster than me, more power to them.”

Rachel Cliff – 2:26:56

Cliff, who’s now run the second-fastest Canadian marathon and half-marathon, is also a likely member of the upcoming Olympic marathon squad. Cliff ran her former Canadian record (2:26:56) in March 2019, a time that counts for team selection. She also broke her own half-marathon record in mid-December, before Natasha Wodak broke it again at Houston last weekend.

Another thing to note about Cliff–she’s still very competitive on the track. If she pivoted and took a run at qualifying for the Games in the 10,000m, that wouldn’t shock us.

Lyndsay Tessier – World Championship top 10

Lyndsay Tessier at the 2019 Spring Runoff in Toronto

Tessierwho was running in her first-ever World Championships at age 41, managed to pull off a top 10 finish in very difficult World Championship marathon conditions. The runner started off conservatively and slowly made her way up from 30th to ninth over the course of the extremely hot 42.2K.

Her finish at worlds secured her an Olympic standard equivalent (2:29:30). This means that Tessier is in the selection pool, but to have a better chance at being chosen, she’ll likely have to run a fast race. Her current personal best is 2:30:47 from Berlin 2018.

Emily Setlack – 2:29:48

Emily Setlack
Photo: Emily Setlack/Instagram

Setlack is the first woman on this list who doesn’t have standard (or an equivalency), but she’s painfully close. The runner had a breakthrough performance at STWM 2019, finishing in 2:29:48, only 18 seconds shy of the standard. Unfortunately, for Setlack to have a shot at the team, she’ll need to better her personal best, but a big performance isn’t out of the question for the runner. At STWM she proved she’s ready for a big year.

Leslie Sexton – 2:31:51

Sexton ran a great race in Prague last spring, finishing in 2:31:51, and more recently, ran a half-marathon personal best of 1:11:20 in Philadelphia. The runner was hoping to qualify for the Olympics at STWM, but didn’t end up finishing the race (she stopped just after 15K). Wanting to make the most of the fitness she’d acquired over the fall, Sexton entered the Road2Hope and Philadelphia Half-Marathons.

Sexton will need a strong spring marathon to be in the running, but a 2:29:30 doesn’t seem out of the question.

Krista DuChene – 2:32:27

Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon 2019. Photo: Maxine Gravina

DuChene is aiming to achieve standard by way of a World Major top-10 finish. DuChene will race her third consecutive Boston Marathon this spring, and a top-10 finish there would give her the equivalent of standard.

Melanie Myrand – 2:33:20

5K workout
Photo: Marathon Photos

Myrand finished 27th at the World Championship marathon in 2019, not good enough for an equivalent but still good marathoning experience. Myrand has run a 2:33:20 thus far (into the qualification period), but she would need a much stronger time to have her name in the conversation this May.

Kinsey Middleton – 2:34:36

Kinsey Middleton at Canadian Marathon Championships, October 2018. Photo: Todd Fraser, Canada Running Series

Middleton was the 2018 Canadian marathon champion at STWM who ran a promising 2:32 debut. Her 2019 STWM race was not what she was looking for–she finished in a disappointing 2:34. Middleton can hopefully run a strong spring marathon and get her name back in the conversation for selection.

Lanni Marchant – no time

IAAF World Track & Field Championships Beijing 2015. Day Three PM,August 24, 2015. Photo: Claus Andersen

Marchant is a wild card. With few results to her name in the past two years, as she has dealt with illness and injury, it’s hard to know where she’s at. But she’s the third-fastest Canadian marathoner of all time and an Olympian in the event. Though it’s an outside shot, we wouldn’t count her out.