Natasha Wodak breaks Canadian marathon record in Berlin

Natasha Wodak believes that enjoying the process will be seen in the results.

The 40-year-old athlete from North Vancouver, BC, who grew up to love training for the marathon, broke the Canadian record in that distance in Berlin on Sunday.

Wodak finished 12th at the Berlin Marathon in two hours 23 minutes 12 seconds, lowering Malindi Elmore’s 2:24.50 record set in 2020.

Wodak, who finished 13th in marathons at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was a 10,000-meter specialist on the track for more than a decade, and said he did not enjoy his first marathon experience in 2013.

“I was like ‘I don’t know how much I want to do this,'” Wodak said.

“But as I get older, and become a more disciplined runner, and I’m in a better place in my life, I really enjoy the training. And I have fun with every marathon workout, and challenge myself. Because it’s new, right? ? The move to the marathon was a lot of fun, doing new training and challenging myself, and I really enjoyed it. And I think that’s a big part of why I did it, because I really like the training.”

Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia won Sunday’s race at 2:15.37. Two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya broke his own men’s marathon world record to win the men’s race in 2:01.09.

Wodak, who is coached by Trent Stellingwerff, said his recent training indicated he could run 2:24.

On Sunday, he increased his speed on the 42.195-kilometer track. The second half was more than a minute faster than the first.

“I know at 35K, because we’ve significantly slowed down through the last 5K, that we’re well below the Canadian speed record,” Wodak said, moments before sitting down to enjoy a celebratory drink with his family.

“I had a pacemaker, and he was just like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ And I kept following him. I was tired over the last 5K, I worked really, really hard. But I know it’s only because we ran fast.

“I didn’t think that I could do 24.12 … when I saw that time at the finish line, I was like, ‘oh, wow, what?'”

Wodak’s record comes amid a surge in Canadian women’s long-distance running.

The Canadian record has fallen by five minutes in the last nine years, although Wodak noted major improvements in shoe technology have seen long-distance running times drop dramatically in recent years.

Still, Elmore finished ninth at the Tokyo Olympics, and the battle between Canadian women to make the team was fierce.

“It’s great to be a part of women’s long-distance running today,” said Wodak. “We just feed each other. If Malindi didn’t run 2:24.50, I don’t know if I would have set my goal of running 2:24 flat.

“So now Malindi is going into Toronto (Waterfront Marathon on October 16), and he’s going to be like, ‘Okay, I want to run under 2:23.’ We keep lowering the bar and it’s great when we all build on each other. He wished him good luck (Saturday) and said, ‘I hope you have a great race.’ It’s a really cool running community to be a part of when we all support each other.”

Elmore tweeted on Sunday“Congratulations Natasha! What a memorable run today!”

Wodak plans to vacation in Germany with his family. He has no plans to race for a while, and is considering competing in the November 26 Canadian cross-country championship in Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 25, 2022.

Hadwin Floyd

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