Track and Field

Rachel Cliff gears up for Commonwealth Games with record-setting run

Lanni Marchant anticipates an exciting and close duel between fellow long-distance runners Rachel Cliff and Natasha Wodak in the 10,000 metres at next month's Commonwealth Games after Cliff took her Canadian half marathon record on Saturday.

Shatters Lanni Marchant's Canadian half marathon mark ahead of 10,000m in Australia

Rachel Cliff, left, shaved 39 seconds off Lanni Marchant’s Canadian half marathon record on Saturday, covering the 21.1-kilometre course in a time of one hour 10 minutes and eight seconds in Woodlands, Tex. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF/File)

Lanni Marchant anticipates an exciting and close duel between fellow long-distance runners Rachel Cliff and Canadian-record holder Natasha Wodak in the 10,000 metres at next month's Commonwealth Games.

Cliff, running her third half marathon in the past two months, shaved 39 seconds off Marchant's Canadian mark on Saturday, covering the 21.1-kilometre course in a time of one hour 10 minutes and eight seconds in Woodlands, Tex.

In 2014, Marchant ran 1:10.47 at the Tom King Classic in Nashville.

"I am glad the record is lowered to something more respectable," said Marchant in a text message on Monday from Kenya, where she is training. "I was honestly surprised my previous mark held for four years considering some close results over the years from Krista [DuChene, 1:10.52], Natasha [1:11.20], Rachel Cliff and [Rachel] Hannah [1:12.25].

"And, of course, I thought I'd knock it off at some point."

Cliff, 29, improved upon her personal best of 1:11.52 at the Houston Half Marathon on Jan. 14. The Vancouver native also raced to a course record on Feb. 11 at the "First Half" Half Marathon in Vancouver, one month after defending her title in the Pioneer 8K on Vancouver Island.

"Cliff has been running strong since 2016 and just missed the Rio [Olympic] team," Marchant said, "so it will be fun to see her and Natasha duke it out in Australia [at the Commonwealth Games]."

Wodak, who clocked a season-best 1:11.31 in the Houston Half Marathon, ran 16:10 on Saturday to win the women's elite division 5K at the West Van Run in West Vancouver.

The 36-year-old from Surrey, B.C., established a Canadian track record of 31:41.59 in the 10,000 at Stanford, Calif., while Cliff set a PB of 32:00.03 when she crossed the finish line 20th at last summer's world track and field championships in London, England.

Last April, the University of Guelph graduate met the qualifying standard of 32:15.00 for the 10,000 at the Commonwealth Games, which run April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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