LINDSEY BUTTERWORTH photo by Brian Cliff


Scientists have defined one second as “9.192.631.770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.”

As Discover magazine says: That’s a mouthful.

Put more simply, one second is the time it takes to say “one second.” It’s also an agonizing time hurdle 800-metre runner Lindsey Butterworth hopes to clear this month as she vies for a spot on Canada’s team for the Tokyo Olympics.

The North Vancouver native, who is competing in the Harry Jerome Track Classic on Saturday, is in a favorable quota spot with her No. 21 ranking on World Athletics ranking system. But she’d feel a little more secure if she could hit the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:59.50.

Butterworth has a personal best of 2:00.31 set in Portland, Ore., in 2019. And this spring she’s gone 2:00.50, 2:00.97 and 2:00.81 in races in California and Oregon.

“I know that under two minutes has been realistic for me for a while now,” says Butterowth. “I’ve come close a few times the past couple of years.

“There’s multiple factors that need to come together to make it happen. In deep fields like that first race in Oregon (this May), it’s about getting the passes right. Mentality plays a huge role in it too, keeping your focus in splitting the race up into different seconds.

“It’s just about executing all aspects of the race at this point.”

Addy Townsend will set the pace at Jerome Classic photo by SFU Athletics

Her first try at the standard this month will come Wednesday in Victoria. She’ll also race an 800 at Guelph, Ont., on June 15. At the Jerome, she’ll have training partner and fellow SFU grad Addy Townsend as a pace-setter.

“It’s going to be a good setup because Addy is going to pace. I’m used to training with her and she can run the pace that’s needed.”

Only six Canadian women have ever gone under two minutes in the 800, with Jerome Classic favorite Melissa Bishop-Nriagu the Canadian record holder at 1:57.01. The sixth came May 29 in Portland when 1,500-metre specialist Gabriela Debues-Stafford of Toronto ran a shocking 1:58.70 in the Portland Track Classic. But at No. 4 in the World Athletics 1,500-metre rankings, she’s likely to run that distance at Tokyo.

Butterworth was a strong 10th at the 2019 world championships, running 2:00.74 in the semifinals. Restrictions due to the Covid pandemic have limited her opportunities to race over the last year, but Butterworth feels she’s still primed to finally break that elusive two-minute barrier.

Lindsey Butterworth photo by Brian Cliff

“I think we’re lucky with our sport that we’ve been able to keep training pretty much at full capacity. Fortunately, my life (she works as NCAA program co-ordinator in Student Engagement and Retention at SFU) hasn’t been impacted that much by the pandemic.

“I do feel my workouts have been really good lately. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Obviously, it would be a huge honor to put on a Canada singlet and represent our country (at Tokyo).”

Butterworth also praised the Achilles Track Society volunteers for making the effort to put on the Jerome Classic despite all the logistical challenges presented by the ongoing health and safety guidelines..

“The athletes, we’re so grateful we can still have this meet. We really appreciate all the hard work they do.”

The Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic is closed to the public because of Covid-19 regulations.

However the 2021 Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic will be broadcast live from Vancouver, BC, Canada on Saturday, June 12.

The broadcast and on demand videos will only be available for +PLUS subscribers.

The broadcast will begin at 3:15pm PT / 6:15pm ET. Subject to change.

The broadcast will be focused on running events. Field events will be shown as the schedule allows but will not be shown in place of running events.

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