Last summer, Natasha Wodak exceeded her expectations when she pushed through molten conditions to place 13th in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, finishing not far behind Malindi Elmore, her Canadian teammate, in ninth. At the time, Wodak considered the possibility that her run through the streets of Sapporo signified the end of her career. Perhaps, she thought, it was the right moment to move on. A two-time Olympian, she was a few months from turning 40. And her life in the sport had been fulfilling.
But when Wodak shared her feelings with Elmore, her plans suddenly changed.
“No, we’re going to try to do Paris,” Elmore told her, referring to the 2024 Olympic Games.
On Monday, Wodak, 40, and Elmore, 42, will be together again, on the start line for the Boston Marathon. Their paths have been intertwined for decades, dating to when they were teenagers competing for secondary school championships in British Columbia. Now, they are two of the women who are proving, again, that marathoners of a more refined vintage can compete at the highest level.
In addition to vying for the master’s division crown for runners over 40, Wodak and Elmore expect to be in the mix among the elites, and for good reason. A slew of – how to put this? – more: experienced: runners have been doing big things lately. In January, Sara Hall, now 39, set an American record for the women’s half-marathon, while Keira D’Amato, a 37-year-old mother of two, broke the longstanding American record for the women’s marathon, both in Houston. A few weeks later, Nick Willis, 38, ran a sub-four-minute mile for the 20th consecutive year, breaking his own record.
“I think there used to be this feeling that there was a ‘best before’ date, and once you hit that age, you move on – especially, in many cases, for women,” Elmore said. “But you do not necessarily hit your limit at any given age. And if things are going well and you’re running well, why stop? ”