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Last weekend, six Canadians travelled to Chandler, Ariz. to race in The Marathon Project, each with the goal of running fast enough to eventually be named to the 2021 Olympic team. As the qualification deadline of May 31 approaches, and as an increasing number of spring races get cancelled, Sunday's race was seen as an indispensable opportunity to run faster than the Olympic standards of 2:11:30 and 2:29:30.

No Canadian took better advantage of it than Ben Preisner and Natasha Wodak, our two guests on this episode of The XC Podcast:

Wodak raced to fifth place and a personal best time of 2:26:19. It's the second fastest time in Canadian history and, for now, it's probably enough to secure the Team Canada's third roster spot (for a full breakdown of how a runner can qualify for Canada's Olympic marathon team, follow this link.) In the first segment of this podcast, Wodak - the Canadian 10,000m record holder who had not raced a marathon since 2013 - talks to Michael Doyle about the overcoming the fear and uncertainty of that last 10K in a marathon, and holding it together to do something extraordinary.

Who Will Make Canada’s 2021 Olympic Marathon Team?
Canadian Olympic hopefuls in the marathon are running faster than ever, and it’s making the qualification process so complicated. We explain who’s in, who wants in, and how the team is picked

Afterwards, Alex Cyr talks with Ben Preisner, the 24-year-old first-time marathoner who shocked nearly everyone by posting an eighth place finish and the fourth-fastest marathon ever run by a Canadian. His time of 2:10:17 also makes him the second fastest Canadian runner this Olympic period behind only Trevor Hofbauer. Barely 24 hours after his feat, Preisner reflects on what went through his mind when he pulled away from other Canadians, how he remained calm while running faster splits than ever before, when exactly he knew that he was on route for a career-changing PB.

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