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It's Marathon Project Week at The XC. Be sure to follow all of our special coverage of Sunday's big race in Arizona, which will feature some of  North America's best marathoners, including those attempting to qualify for next summer's Olympic Games. We'll be releasing daily podcasts featuring interviews with athletes competing in The Marathon Project, plus we'll be doing an instant reactions podcast immediately following the race. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for in-depth coverage delivered right to your inbox, and our Sunday Long Read.

This week, we interview runners who are gearing up for The Marathon Project, a race in Chandler, Arizona that doubles as an qualifier for the 2021 Olympic Games. It's probably going to be the fastest North American marathon of 2020, and it happens on Sunday, Dec. 20.

Our first guest is Rory Linkletter, a 24-year-old Canadian-American, and second-time marathoner. Last fall, he raced to a 2:16:42 in his marathon debut. Linkletter, a professional runner for Hoka One One and NAZ Elite, hopes to dip under the Olympic standard of 2:11:30 on Sunday. That sounds like a stretch, until you consider that he's run the second fastest half-marathon in Canadian history earlier this year in 61:44, and it's clear from his Strava profile that he is ready to run much faster than 2:16.

Here, Linkletter tells us what The Marathon Project is all about - he lives in Flagstaff, so he has the inside scoop. We also chat about his preparation for the race, his decision to let his hair grow until he makes an Olympic team - it's already down to his shoulders - and his experience living with fellow Canadian Olympic hopeful Cam Levins for 5 weeks this fall.

We hope you enjoy the conversation. Be sure to catch our Marathon Project coverage throughout the week. We will have a few more runners on to chat prior to the race, and we are preparing a live viewing experience of the race itself on Sunday, Dec 20.

Subscribe to The XC Podcast here for more on The Marathon Project all this week:

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