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Ben Flanagan lowers Canadian half-marathon record, holding off Cam Levins in Valencia

Ben Flanagan ran to his third Canadian road race record of the year on Sunday, completing the Valencia Half Marathon in 61 minutes for 18th place, a few strides ahead of Canada’s fastest-ever marathon runner.

Flanagan took 38 seconds off his previous best effort over 21.1 kilometres from Jan. 16 in Houston, where Rory Linkletter ran 1:01:08 in the same race to lower Jeff Schiebler’s 23-year-old Canadian mark.

Four months ago, Flanagan took down Paul McCloy’s 1987 Canadian 10K record by six seconds, reaching the finish line at the B.A.A. competition in Boston in 28:11. In the process, he turned out to be the fastest Canadian man over 8 km (22:31).

The 27-year-old Flanagan set his first Canadian record on Dec. 8, 2018, clocking four minutes in the men’s mile in Honolulu.

A native of Kitchener, Ont., based in the United States, Flanagan had previously stated the 5,000 metres on the track is an option for the 2024 Paris Olympics, as is the marathon, though he has yet to make his debut in the latter.

“I feel comfortable on the road and have had more natural success on the road,” the former University of Michigan track star in the 10,000 told CBC Sports in October 2021. “I just want to make that [Olympic] team.”

Flanagan came up short in qualifying and missed out on his Summer Games debut last year in Tokyo.

Cam Levins, a two-time Olympian, also ran under the previous best Canadian time, placing 19th on Sunday in 1:01:04. The native of Black Creek, B.C., shattered his own Canadian marathon record in July with his fourth-place result (2:07:09) at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore.

The 33-year-old ran 2:09:25 at the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon to defeat Jerome Drayton’s 43-year-old mark by 44 seconds.

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