Dylan Wykes finished in the top 20 and was the fastest Canadian in the men’s Olympic marathon on Sunday, the final day of the London Summer Games.
Wykes covered 41.2 kilometres in two hours, 15 minutes and 26 seconds to place 20th out of 105 racers.
“It was brutal out there,” he told Athletics Canada after the morning race. “I tried to be conservative and then run people down. In the second half I passed 10 to 15 guys.”
After five kilometres, he was in 71st position and 16 seconds behind the leaders along a course that put racers into the shadow of Buckingham Palace and along the city’s famous Mall.
But the 29-year-old Kitsilano resident (who was born and raised in Kingston, Ont.) never lost ground. He advanced through the pack and by the halfway mark, was 52nd overall but 3:21 behind the lead pack. He continued to move through the ranks of racers and with six kilometers to go, was 25th and now more than five minutes behind the leading Ugandan and two Kenyans. In sight of the finish line he held on to 20th.
“I'm happy. Nineteenth would have been nice. Would have been nice to get in the teens,” he said.
Wykes finished 7:25 minutes behind the Ugandan champion, Stephen Kiprotich, who won the race in 2:08.01 and three minutes off the personal best he set at in Rotterdam to qualify for the London Games. At that April race, he ran 2:10.47 and came the closest yet to the 37-year-old Canadian record.
Under the right conditions, many observers speculated this country’s men’s marathon record set by Jerome Drayton in 1975 would be beaten. The 2:10.09 mark remains the longest-standing record in Athletics Canada’s books.
London marked the first Olympics in 18 years since Canada sent a full slate of three marathoners to the Summer Games. Wykes raced with Eric Gillis and Reid Coolseat who both train in Guelph, Ont.
Gillis finished 22nd in 2:16.00 and Coolseat came 27th in 2:16.29.