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Toronto runner Lucia Stafford clocks fastest-ever indoor 1,000m by North American woman

Lucia Stafford is starting to follow in the footsteps of her sister, literally, by shattering records on the track.

On Saturday afternoon, she opened her 2023 season indoors and topped the women’s field in two minutes 33.75 seconds over 1,000 meters at the Boston University Terrier Classic for her first Canadian national senior record.

The 24-year-old from Toronto beat her closest competitor to the finish by nearly three seconds as American Allie Wilson reached it in 2:36.31. Stafford, whose previous best was 2:37.73, broke the Canadian mark of 2:37.04 held by Calgary’s Jenna Westaway since Feb. 8, 2019.

Stafford’s clocking is the fastest indoors by any North American woman in history and ninth fastest in world history.

Regina Jacobs, a three-time U.S. Olympian and former middle-distance athlete, ran 2:31.80 outdoors with a 2:35.29 indoor best, according to her World Athletics profile. In 2004, the then-40-year-old’s career ended when she accepted a four-year ban after testing positive for THG, the designer steroid implicated in the BALCO doping scandal.

Only two women in the last 15 years have run faster than Stafford in the indoor 1,000 — Olympic silver medalist Laura Muir of Great Britain (2:31.93), the former training partner of Stafford’s older sister, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, and Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba (2:33.06).

DeBues-Stafford holds national records in the indoor 1,500, mile, 3,000 and 5,000, along with the outdoor 1,500, mile and 5,000.

On Nov. 12, Stafford ran the second-fastest Canadian 5K in her road race debut, posting a winning time of 15:20 at the Road2Hope Marathon weekend in Hamilton, four seconds shy of Emilie Mondor’s national mark set in 2004.

In her debut for Bowerman Track Club last Feb. 11, Stafford won the women’s mile in 4:24.42 at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational meet at BU, the second-fastest time by a Canadian woman behind DeBues-Stafford (4:19.73). Stafford left Bowerman last April following her sister, who cited stress around the doping ban of her former training partner Shelby Houlihan and Houlihan’s continued presence around the team.

Stafford ran a 4:02.12 personal best for 13th in the women’s 1,500 semifinals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, falling 43-100ths of a second shy of Spain’s Marta Perez, who grabbed the last qualifying spot for the final with a 4:01.69 PB.

Stafford will face Muir on Feb. 11 at the Millrose Games in New York City in the women’s elite mile. The Canadian record in the event is held by DeBues-Stafford, who clocked 4:19.73 in February 2020.

Steve Carr

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