You may have seen this headline before: Rachel Cliff breaks Canadian record in Japan.
Only this time it was in the half-marathon.
This past weekend, at the Sanyo Ladies’ Half-Marathon in Okayama, Japan, Cliff broke her own Canadian half-marathon record lowering the mark by two seconds. Thanks to a 1:10:06 clocking, she was able to improve her previous record set in 2018 at the Woodlands Half-Marathon in Texas.
The 31-year-old earlier in 2019 broke the Canadian women’s marathon record in Japan. On that occasion, at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, Cliff, in only her second marathon, ran 2:26:56. She’s the only Canadian woman to have broken 2:28 in the marathon as Lanni Marchant previously held the mark at 2:28:00.
Cliff was among the lead pack at the Dec. 15 Sanyo Ladies Half-Marathon until around the 15km mark when the U.K.’s Charlotte Purdue pulled away. The Brit ultimately won the event clocking 1:08:45.
Currently, Cliff runs for On, a Swiss company that is increasingly making splashes in the sport.
Japan is increasingly becoming a hotspot for Canadians racing overseas, especially for women as the country hosts many women’s-only events that attract the best runners from around the world. Case in point: Cliff was 15th during her Canadian marathon record run. In Sanyo, Japan, this past weekend, Cliff was sixth. In total, Cliff raced three times in Japan in 2019.
Cliff has seen instant success at the longer road racing distances in recent years. In 2018, she debuted in the marathon running 2:28:58 in Berlin. Still, she splits her time between the roads and the track. This past summer, she represented Canada at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Earlier this year, she won a bronze medal at the Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.
Next summer, Cliff will vie for a spot on Canada’s Olympic team in what would be her first trip to the Summer Games. Her husband, Chris Winter, represented Canada in the steeplechase at the 2016 Rio Olympics.