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Racing in his home province, Cameron Levins made hundreds of fans cheer as he covered 21.1 kilometres faster than any Canadian man in history.

The 33-year-old chopped 42 seconds off Ben Flanagan’s previous national half-marathon record and set the new mark at one hour and eighteen seconds (1:00:18) at the 2023 First Half in Vancouver, BC on Sunday, February 12.

“My goal was basically just to feel it out and get a good effort,” said the Black Creek, BC native and two-time Olympian.

“I didn’t know a lot about the course going in, so had no expectations, but knew I had the fitness to go quick. I knew I had a solid shot at the record when I reached the halfway mark at around 30 minutes and still felt pretty controlled.”

Levins ran by himself from the start, and won comfortably by nearly four minutes. Lee Wesselius, a River Glade, NB native who lives and trains in Mountain, Ontario, claimed silver in a personal best time of 1:04:17, just six seconds ahead of bronze medalist Thomas Broatch of Vancouver. Defending Canadian marathon champion Trevor Hofbauer was fourth.

On the women’s side, Wodak won her second-consecutive First Half title, breaking her own event record and stopping the clock at 1:10:16. It was a comeback performance for the Canadian marathon record holder, who withdrew from the Houston Half Marathon last month due to illness.

Wodak finished atop a deep women’s field; her closest competitor, World Championship 13th-place finisher Leslie Sexton, won silver in a 25-second personal best time of 1:11:40. Meanwhile, Sasha Gollish, the only elite runner to compete in all ten Canadian running championships last year, finished third in 1:12:51.

Wodak covered the course in near-even splits, reaching the 10k mark in 33:20 and locking into the pace until the finish.

Both Levins and Wodak will represent Canada in the marathon at the 2023 World Athletics Championship in Budapest in late August. Levins said he plans to race the Tokyo Marathon in March and attempt to achieve the Olympics standard of 2:08:10.

The First Half the first of 13 races comprising the Athletics Canada Road Race Label Program, a series of high-performance races across the country. Find results here, and learn more about the Label Program here.  

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