Ben Flanagan won his first-ever 10-kilometre road race on Sunday while Leslie Sexton captured her second Canadian women’s running title in a month.
Flanagan made a late move and held off Luc Bruchet to take the men’s race in 28 minutes 41 seconds at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 10K, which doubled as the Canadian 10K Championships and moved from Ottawa for this year.
Bruchet was eight seconds back after winning the men’s national 5K title a month earlier, while Ben Preisner covered the looped course on Lakeshore Rd. in 28:53 on a breezy morning. They will return home to B.C. with an extra $3,000 and $1,500 in their respective pockets.
Sexton of Markham, Ont., came in at 32:04, six seconds behind race winner Sarah Inglis of Scotland, who wasn’t ineligible for the Canadian title and $5,500 top prize. The physical education teacher in Langley, B.C., who isn’t a Canadian citizen, ran a 31:58 personal best after taking the women’s virtual 5K title in 15:37, also a PB.
.<a href=”https://twitter.com/LeslieSexton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@LeslieSexton</a> is the top woman in the <a href=”https://twitter.com/AthleticsCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@AthleticsCanada</a> 10K Championships with a time of 32:04! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/towaterfront42K?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#towaterfront42K</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/moveforwardTO?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#moveforwardTO</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AC10K?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AC10K</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/OttawaMarathon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@OttawaMarathon</a> <a href=”https://t.co/BxYBgaT9DE”>pic.twitter.com/BxYBgaT9DE</a>
“I did what I could. Sarah is super fit and I was lucky to have her dragging me,” Sexton said after the race. “It’s great to be a part of the [in-person] running scene again.”
Sunday marked Sexton’s fourth Canadian 10K Championship race with her previous best finish in Toronto on Sept. 21, 2013 when she was fifth in 35:24.
The 34-year-old’s recent 5K and 10K runs have been good preparation for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 21.
Following Sexton across the line on Sunday were Cleo Boyd (33:21) and Natasha Wodak (33:33). Wodak won the national 10K in 32:31 in 2019 and last year’s virtual women’s race in 32:41. Justin Kent, first in last year’s virtual men’s event in 28:52, was fifth on Sunday in 29:03.
Wodak, who lives in Vancouver, expected a tough race against Inglis and Sexton after taking a month to rest following her 13th-place finish in the Tokyo Olympic marathon on Aug. 7 in Sapporo, Japan.
For Flanagan, Sunday’s victory was his second on the road in two months. On Aug. 15, the 26-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., won the Falmouth Road Race in 32:16 (11.4 km) in the coastal town on Cape Cod, Mass. In 2018, he clocked 32:21 to become the 1st Cdn – male or female – to win in the event’s then-46-year history.
Flanagan was an alternate on the Canadian Olympic team in the men’s 5,000 metres behind Moh Ahmed, Justyn Knight and Bruchet, who dipped under the Olympic standard in 13:12.56 six weeks before the Games for the third fastest time ever among Canadian men.
Flanagan, who had flown to Kitchener from his Virginia home to quarantine ahead of the Canadian trials, chose to return to the United States to attempt the automatic entry standard for Tokyo. But Flanagan eventually fell short of qualifying for his Olympic debut with a 13:33.90 winning time in Oregon.
Ottawa-born Josh Cassidy was the lone wheelchair racer on Sunday and completed the course in just under 21 minutes six days after his fifth-place finish (1:28:56) at the Boston Marathon.