Canada’s Tristan Woodfine runs Tokyo marathon standard at London event

LONDON — Canada’s Tristan Woodfine dipped under the Olympic qualifying standard at the London Marathon on Sunday.

The Cobden, Ont., native ran two hours 10 minutes 51 seconds to finish 14th in the race held in front of no fans at St. James Park in central London.

The Tokyo qualifying standard is 2:11.30, and has been difficult for runners to achieve in a season all but wiped out by COVID-19.

Canadian record-holder Cam Levins didn’t finish, dropping well off the pace over the final five kilometres.

Shura Kitata of Ethopia won in 2:05.41 in a sprint to the finish. Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba was second in 2:05.42.

Canada didn’t have any entries in the women’s event.

Levins, who ran 2:09.25 to shatter the 43-year-old Canadian record two years ago, had been almost three minutes under national-record pace halfway through Sunday’s race. But the 31-year-old from Black Creek, B.C., fell dramatically off the pace over the final kilometres then eventually stopped.

Levins remains without the Olympic qualifying standard.

It was shocking result for Kenya’s world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge, who’d never finished lower than second in a marathon. He led through 37 kilometres before falling off the pace. He finished in 2:06.49.

Temperatures weren’t ideal for fast marathon times, hovering around 11 C, with overcast skies and periodic drizzling rain.

London runners were housed in a secret location a week ahead of the race, and tested three times for COVID-19.

After the global pandemic virtually wiped out the world marathon schedule, the London event featured a small, elite field, under strict health protocols. The course was pared down to a two-kilometre loop around St. James Park, with no fans on the course.

Levins had credited the some-45,000 runners who registered for the virtual London Marathon, saying the elite race wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer and Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky had already booked spots in the Tokyo Olympic marathon as the top Canadians in the 2019 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. They retained their Olympic spots despite the Games postponement.

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