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Top 10 Canadian running performances of the year

A look back at the top performances by Canadian runners in 2023

Damian Warner Pierce LePage Photo by: James Rhodes (@jrhodesathletics)

It was a year to remember for Canadian athletics. Team Canada won four gold medals at the 2023 World Athletics Championships, marking the second-highest tally behind Team USA. Additionally, Canadian track witnessed men’s marathon record being lowered for the second consecutive year, along with other sensational performances on road, track and trails.

There were numerous outstanding performances by Canadian athletes, making it a challenge to narrow down the list. However, we have managed to highlight the top 10 Canadian performances of 2023:

10) University of British Columbia sweeps team titles at 2023 U Sports XC Championships

U Sports XC 2023
Photo: Marley Dickinson

For the first time in school history, the UBC Thunderbirds won both the men’s and women’s university national titles. UBC placed five women in the top 15 to win their first women’s U Sports XC title in school history, led by Katie Newlove, who finished first overall. UBC men placed three of their runners in the top 10, securing their first men’s U Sports XC title since 1993, edging out Laval Rouge et Or by eight points.

9) Ben Flanagan sets Canadian 5K record in Boston

In April, the men’s Canadian 5K record was shattered at the B.A.A. 5K in Boston for the second year in a row. Ben Flanagan of Kitchener, Ont., placed second in the race and broke the previous Canadian record by ten seconds in 13:26.

This 5K record was the third Canadian road record Flanagan broke in his career. He is currently the record holder over the road 5K and 10K. 

8) Malindi Elmore hits Olympic standard at 2023 Berlin Marathon

Canada’s Malindi Elmore almost reclaimed her national record (set by Natasha Wodak on this course a year ago), missing it by only 18 seconds. Elmore ran an 80-second personal best for 2:23:30, which is well under the Olympic standard of 2:26:50 for Paris 2024. Elmore, who is 43, finished in 13th place and won the women’s masters division. Elmore’s time will make her eligible for selection for the Canadian marathon team, which would be her third career Olympic Games, 20 years after she made her first team in Athens 2004. 

7) Lucia Stafford smashes Canadian indoor 1,000m record

Lucia stafford
Photo: @kosukemedia

Lucia Stafford kicked off her 2023 season with a bang, setting a Canadian record for 1,000m indoors in January. Her time of 2:33.75 not only broke the previous Canadian record of 2:37.04, but it is also the fastest by any North American woman in history. This was her first Canadian senior national record. Only two women in the last 15 years have run faster than Stafford’s mark indoors—Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir and 1,500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba.

6) Savannah Sutherland crowned NCAA champion in the 400m hurdles

In only her second NCAA track season at the University of Michigan, Savannah Sutherland of Borden, Sask. continues to break records. At the 2023 NCAA Track and Field Championships in June, the 19-year-old sprinter not only reached the final, but stunned the field by running a personal best of 54.45 seconds to win her first NCAA championship. Sutherland went on to represent Canada at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, where she reached the semi-final in her senior Team Canada debut.

5) Andre De Grasse becomes first Canadian track athlete to win Diamond League title

Andre De Grasse
Photo: Kevin Morris

History was made at the 2023 Diamond League Final in September as Andre De Grasse became the first Canadian sprinter to win a Diamond League final trophy, clocking a season’s best 19.76 seconds in the men’s 200m. The race marked his the fourth-fastest 200m time of his career, and his fastest time since 2021. De Grasse said it was a “positive step forward” as he looks ahead to 2024 with the aim of defending his Olympic 200m title.

4) Ihor Verys completes 107 yards at Big’s Backyard Ultra

In October, Ukrainian-Canadian ultrarunner Ihor Verys was one of two men who broke the backyard ultra world record at Big’s Backyard Ultra World Championship in Bell Buckle, Tenn. Verys battled American Harvey Lewis for 107 yards (6.706-km hourly loops) but fell one yard shy of the win. Lewis recorded 724.248 kilometres across five days, while Verys recorded a mark over 717 km. Lewis shattered the previous backyard ultra world record by more than 40 km.

3) Pierce LePage wins world championship gold in decathlon, Warner second

Pierce LePage
Photo: James Rhodes (@jrhodesathletics)

Pierce LePage and Damian Warner claimed gold and silver in the men’s decathlon on a historic four-medal night for Team Canada at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. The Whitby, Ont. native finished with a world-leading 8,909 points to win his first world title, upgrading his silver from last year’s world championships in Eugene. LePage became the first Canadian to win a world title in the event.

2) Cam Levins obliterates Canadian marathon record at 2023 Tokyo Marathon

At the 2023 Tokyo Marathon in March, Cam Levins solidified himself as the fastest marathoner in North American history at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon, placing fifth in 2:05:36 to shatter his previous Canadian record of 2:07:09. He also broke the long-standing North American record of 2:05:38.

Levins now holds the the three fastest marathon performances in Canadian history, ranging from 2:09:25 (Toronto 2018) to his new record of 2:05:36. His mark also qualified him for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, where he will look to lead Team Canada to the podium in the men’s marathon.

1) Marco Arop crowned world champion in the men’s 800m

In 2023, Edmonton’s Marco Arop emerged as a shining star in middle-distance running. The 24-year-old made history by becoming the first Canadian middle-distance athlete to be crowned world champion in the men’s 800m, contributing to Canada’s impressive tally of four gold medals at the 2023 World Championships.

Marco Arop
Photo: Kevin Morris

Arop put on an incredible performance in the final, strategically positioning himself at the back during the first 400m. Unleashing a decisive move on the final lap, surging into lane three to seize the lead and raise his arms in triumph as he crossed the finish line in 1:44.24. Arop completed the final 400m in a remarkable 50.9 seconds. A month later, at the Diamond League Final, he set a new Canadian 800m record of 1:42.85, becoming the first Canadian male to run under 1:43.

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