Strong showing at Scotiabank Marathon has London runner eyeing Olympics

30-year-old Leslie Sexton ran 200 kilometres a week in preparation for the race. She hopes to qualify for Canada's Olympic team in 2020 in Tokyo.

Leslie Sexton crosses finish line in 2 hours, 35 minutes and 44 seconds

Leslie Sexton of London, Ont., won Canada's Marathon Championship title. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)

When Leslie Sexton trains for a marathon, she runs 200 kilometres a week. Apparently, that regimen works.

The 30-year-old long-distance runner from London just clinched the Canadian women's title at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a time of two hours, 35 minutes and 44 seconds.

"I had to push through some bad patches a few times, either just from the heat or being tired or my legs feeling beat up from all that pounding," said Sexton, who two years ago finished two minutes faster, but behind Canadian Olympic runner Lanni Marchant.

"I felt like I had to work harder for this one than two years ago, even though the time's slower. I felt like it was harder fought," said Sexton who works part time and trains with her partner and coach of the London Runner Distance Club.

Sexton's running career began in elementary school, where she ran both cross country and track and field. During her high school years in Markham, Sexton joined a local track club, and later ran for Queen's University.

Today, Sexton works part time at Runner's Choice on Dundas Street to make time for her grueling training schedule.

"I run-commute to work most of the time, so I'm running twice a day. I live in Byron and I'll run along the paths to downtown. I'll run in, pick up my Tim Horton's for breakfast and then we have a shower at the store," said Sexton, who joked she's often passing the clerk a sweaty bill to pay for her bagel and tea.

Sexton is hopeful she can qualify for both the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and the Paris Olympics in 2024.

"I think I have two more Olympic cycles in me, definitely running at my peak," she said. "Definitely your life-time training and the experience you gain from racing and doing it all those years is a strength. For the marathon especially, you can run great times and great performances, well into your late 30s even.

"I just love running and I love what I do so if I my body cooperates and I can stay healthy, I want to keep running as long as I can."