What a year it was for Canadian running. We got to witness a successful Olympic Games after a year of much uncertainty, but we also saw many Canadian records fall on the track, including six Olympic medals in Athletics, the highest total for Team Canada at a non-boycotted Olympic Games.
There have been so many great performances by Canadian runners this year we could’ve made a list counting down the top 50, but we have narrowed it down to 10. Here are the top Canadian performances of 2021:
The 20-year-old junior at West Virginia University had a season to remember. McCabe won four consecutive cross country races in the lead-up to her third-place finish at the DI NCAA XC championships. Two weeks later, she ran 8:52:52 in the 3,000m to break the Canadian U23 indoor 3,000m record. McCabe will certainly be a Canadian athlete to watch in 2022.
Blanchard finished third in a personal best time of 21 hours and 12 minutes (over 170 km), two and a half hours faster than his time in 2018. Blanchard shared the podium with Francois d’Haene, who scored his fourth UTMB victory. Blanchard’s finish marked the highest finish by a Canadian at UTMB.
Seccafien dominated the women’s 10,000m at Sound Running’s Track Meet in California in May, and her time of 31:13.94 set a new Canadian record by 27 seconds. Seccafien also holds the national record in the half-marathon (1:09:38), which she set in 2020.
Marchant was Canada’s top performer at the 2021 New York City Marathon, running 2:32:54 for 11th place. This result was an incredible comeback for the London, Ont. native, who has struggled with injuries since she competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the warmest Olympic marathon in recent years, Canada’s Elmore pulled through to secure a top 10 finish in the women’s marathon in 2:30:59. Elmore and her compatriot Natasha Wodak started conservatively and began picking runners off as the race advanced. Elmore’s ninth-place finish marked the highest-ever finish by a Canadian woman in a non-boycotted Olympic Games
Dunfee unleashed an astonishing finishing kick to secure the bronze medal in the final few kilometres of the men’s 50K race walk to pass Spain’s Marc Tur on the final stretch. This performance was redemption for Dunfee, as he finished just off the podium in 2016. This is the first time Canada has won a medal in a race walk event since Guillaume LeBlanc took silver in the 20K in 1992.
After breaking the Canadian record in the qualifying round, Lalonde once again broke the Canadian women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase record, running 9:22.40 in the Olympic final. Her time ended up in 11th, which is the highest finish by a Canadian woman ever in the event. (Lalonde also won the Canadian Cross Country Championship this fall).
Ahmed accomplished his dream and won a silver medal in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics. This medal marked Ahmed’s first medal at an Olympic Games and it is Canada’s first-ever medal in the 5,000m event. With this medal, Ahmed solidifies himself as Canada’s greatest-ever distance runner.
De Grasse finally achieved Olympic gold in the 200m final, setting a national record of 19.62 seconds. His time broke his previous personal best, set five years ago at the Rio Olympics. It’s was the first time Canada has won gold in this event since Percy Williams did it 93 years ago, in Amsterdam in 1928, and De Grasse’s time was faster than Usain Bolt’s gold-medal performance in Rio.
We have our number one, which was one of the most memorable performances of the Olympic Games. Canada’s Warner achieved his dream of Olympic gold. His medal marked Canada’s first-ever gold medal in the decathlon. Warner scored 9,018 points over the 10 events, which set a new Canadian and Olympic record. He is only the fourth decathlete in history to exceed 9,000 points and the first to do so at an Olympic Games. Warner was the recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy, presented to Canada’s top athlete of the year.
Canadian Running’s Honourable mentions:
These Canadian performances were so incredible we could not make list and not include them. Here are the honourable mentions.