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How Canada is Selecting the Olympic Marathon Team

How Canada is Selecting the Olympic Marathon Team

Mar 01, 2019

Racing

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BY: CATHERINE WATKINS

With Spring just around the corner comes the excitement of Spring marathons. For many Canadian marathon athletes this means looking to secure a fast time to be considered for selection to one of the Canadian Marathon teams. For 2019 there are marathon team spots available for both Worlds and the Pan Am games, and for 2020 the Tokyo Olympics.

The selection for the world marathon team and the Pan Am team this year is quite straightforward. The top times within the qualification window, and that have achieved the World or Pan Am standard, will be selected to the team. The World standard for the women’s marathon being 2:37 and the Pan Am standard being 2:50. Athletics Canada has chosen to stay with the time standard criteria given by the IAAF. Selection for the Tokyo Olympic Marathon team however is slightly different. 

The Canadian Olympic marathon team selection process differs from the process in the USA. The selection process for the US Olympic Marathon team involves a marathon trials where all athletes who have achieved the A or B standard in the marathon or a standard in the half compete, with the top 3 finishers earning their US Olympic marathon team spot, The Canadian system up until now, has not used a trials system for the marathon. In the past Athletics Canada has taken the IAAF time standard for the marathon, then made the standard for the Canadian athletes faster than this in order to qualify. For example, in 2016, the IAAF marathon standard for the Rio Olympics for women was 2:45:00, yet the standard put forth by Athletics Canada for acceptance to the marathon team for women was 2:29:50. These tough standards have been challenging for many women to make and 2016 in Rio was the first marathon we had female athletes (Lanni Marchant and Kirsta DuChene) competing in the Olympic Marathon since 1996. 

This year however, Athletics Canada has decided to change things up a bit. On October 20th at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) a Canadian Marathon Olympic trials will occur. Athletics Canada has stated that the first Canadian male and female marathoners to cross the line at STWM will be selected to the Canadian Olympic Marathon team provided they have achieved the time standard that Athletics Canada will set forth. (at this point that time standard is unknown as they are awaiting the IAAF standards for Olympic Qualification before they release their own standard). This means that many Canadians will be seeking fast times this Spring so that they potentially have the standard sealed up and that they can then compete for that coveted first position and potential Olympic team berth in Toronto. 

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We have many Canadian Female marathoners who are capable of fast times this year (including our own Sasha Gollish with her 2:32:52 debut in Houston in January). It will be exciting to see these women competing through the Spring and Fall and pushing themselves and each other to be their fastest. I will be racing the Rotterdam Marathon on April 7thin hopes of lowering my time from Berlin this past September (2:40:11) and seeing where I rank among Canada’s top female marathoners as the team selections begin. 

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