Canadian Road Running Record Trivia

Quick! Name the Canadian half marathon recordholder.

@SimonBairu Nothin special, 5th beat everyone I was suppose 2 beat but didn’t beat anyone I wasn’t suppose 2 beat. 45sec pr good place 2b goin into NYC
Sun Sep 19 2010 06:42:33 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Echofon

Something occurred to me after I read Simon Bairu‘s tweet about his 1:02:08 personal best at the ING Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half yesterday: I know Jerome Drayton is the Canadian marathon recordholder, but who holds the Canadian half marathon record?

With Bairu currently training for his marathon debut at the ING New York City Marathon next month, and Eric Gillis and Reid Coolsaet duking it out at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about the marathon record and how we may finally see a Canadian break the 35 year-old standard of 2:10:09 set by Jerome Drayton at the Fukuoka Marathon in 1975. Thirty-five years!

As embarrassing as it is to say, Bairu’s tweet made me realize I didn’t have a clue who holds the Canadian half marathon record. Walking, talking, running encyclopedia, Steve Mattina, would kill me for saying that since it is a flat-out admission that I haven’t been paying full attention at the track on Tuesdays to his colourful stories about the good old days. Please forgive me Steve.

Sixty-two minutes is pretty quick and I couldn’t imagine there were too many Canadians who have run faster than that. Did Bairu quietly break the half record on Sunday? Surely he would have known that his 62:08 was more than just a 45-second PR if he had. Was he at least close?

Well, no and not really. New Westminster-born, Jeff Schiebler ran a 1:01:28 in Tokyo on January 15, 1999. His record has lasted nearly 12 years and Bairu’s time on Sunday is the closest any Canadian has come to touching it since. Even the great Jon Brown of Victoria didn’t run a faster half when he was in his prime. And still Welsh. Schiebler was a stud and is still the only Canadian on this list.

Incidentally, Schiebler’s 27:36 stood as the Canadian 10,000m record on the track until it was beaten in May by… Simon Bairu in a time of 27:23. Now a Canadian citizen, Jon Brown still holds the British 10,000m record of 27:18. God Save the Queen!

And speaking of queens, I would be remiss not mentioning that Tara Quinn-Smith of Toronto holds of the current Canadian women’s half marathon record with a 1:12:08 she ran at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal on April 19, 2009. I note with an asterisk that on June 7, 2008, Cheryl Murphy of Victoria actually ran a 1:11:43 at the Fontana Days Run — “the world’s fastest half marathon” — on a course so insanely downhill that results are excluded from national records.

UPDATEMo Farah ran 26:46.57 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene OR on June 3, 2011 to set a new British 10,000m record.

ANOTHER UPDATE – Krista DuChene and Lanni Marchant both ran under the current Canadian women’s half marathon record, and faster than Murphy’s 1:11:43 at the Scotiabank Half in Vancouver on June 23, 2013. DuChene won the women’s race in 1:10:52 and Marchant was runner-up in 1:11:37, but since Scotiabank’s net drop is much greater than the 1 metre per kilometre allowed by the IAAF for official records Tara Quinn-Smith’s national record stands.

FURTHER UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS UPDATE – Okay, Lanni Marchant did it for real this past Saturday, March 8, 2014, running a new Canadian women’s record of 1:10:47 to take the women’s race and finish fourth overall at the 20th Annual Tom King Classic in Nashville.

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