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Flanagan obliterates Canadian 5K mark, dominates Boston road race with Very Nice teammates

Ben Flanagan ran to his second Canadian record in six months in Saturday’s Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) 5K, reaching the finish in 13 minutes 26 seconds for second place, nine seconds ahead of Charles Philibert-Thiboutot’s winning time and national mark from last year’s race.

Last October, Flanagan took 38 seconds off his previous best in the half marathon, posting a then-Canadian record of one hour one minute in Valencia. It now belongs to Cam Levins, who clocked 1:00:18 in in Vancouver in February on his way to setting a 2:05:36 North American mark three weeks later in the Tokyo Marathon.

The 28-year-old Flanagan was confident entering Saturday’s road race on a cloudy, cool morning with only a slight wind, two days before the 127th Boston Marathon.

“The [record] is definitely a big goal of mine,” the Kitchener, Ont., native and 2024 Olympic hopeful told CBC Sports earlier this week. Flanagan ran 13:38 last Sept. 11 at the Medavie Canadian 5K championships in Moncton, N.B.

“I’m excited to go for it again,” he said, “and this is a race [in Boston] where I’ve got no doubt it’ll be set up well enough with the [calibre] of athletes attending.”

Philibert-Thiboutot fell short of his goal to win on Saturday, placing 12th in 13:32, a three-second personal best. A day earlier, the 2022 Canadian champion in the 5,000 metres on the track told CBC Sports training has been going well since he contracted pneumonia during the indoor season.

“I am ready for any type of race, slow or fast,” said the 32-year-old from Quebec City, a 2016 Olympian and 2022 world semifinalist in the 1,500. “[Boston] is not a particularly fast course but if the race turns out to be fast, I will be ready.”

Flanagan, who set three Canadian road race records last year — including the 10K at the B.A.A. competition — was certain Saturday’s event would be won under 13:35. Morgan Beadlescomb, the sixth-year star athlete from Michigan State University, topped the field of 3,885 men’s participants in 13:25.

“He’s a phenomenal up-and-coming athlete,” said Flanagan of Beadlescomb. “The only downside about him is he went to Michigan State, so we were rivals [in college].”

In June 2018, Flanagan collected an NCAA Division 1 title on the track with the University of Michigan in the men’s 10,000 metres. He and Beadlescomb are now teammates with the Very Nice Track Club in Ann Arbor, Mich., headed up by 80-year-old Ron Warhurst, the retired University of Michigan track coach.

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