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Olympic Trials?

November 16, 2014

A year ago I was in the best shape of my life and hoping to run a personal best at the Fukuoka marathon. In 2013 I had a handful of good results and was very pleased with the year. This year has been frustrating in terms of results and missed training. However, I can’t dwell on what I missed but instead focus on what is going right.  The way I feel running right now is awesome, I haven’t felt this smooth for years. I’m still lacking fitness, but I’m happy with the progression and I’m seeing gains every week. Right now I’m still planning on a Spring 2015 marathon.

This past week I had two workouts with the group, a solid long-run, totalled 140km running and 300 minutes in the pool. This is pretty much what I’ll do for the next month before heading to Kenya. Yep, heading back to Kenya this year for about six weeks.

Going to Kenya mid-December through most of January will ensure that I’m able to run on soft surfaces for a little longer. It’s been snowing here already, luckily no accumulation yet and we’re still running on the trails.


On a run this week a few of us were talking about the idea of a Canadian Olympic marathon trial race and how that could play out. It would have to be a race in the fall of 2015 or early 2016. However, 2015 works better so runners could potentially chase a standard at a fast marathon if they need it.

Basically the first three Canadian men and women across the line at the trials would stamp their ticket if they have standard or could get it before the qualifying period is over. If someone finishes fourth Canadian and has standard and one of the top three doesn’t have standard by the end of the qualifying period then the 4th place runner would go.

The good thing about a trials race is that it puts everyone on the same course to come up with a straight forward ranking. When you go simply by time one runner could run a marathon with perfect weather and another could catch a really hot or windy day. If the runner who ran in horrible conditions was only a few seconds slower than the runner who had perfect conditions then the better runner might not be the one selected.

Another good thing about running a trials is that if an athlete finishes in the top three and they already achieved the Olympic standard then they know they are going and can prepare for the Olympic marathon. Otherwise that athlete might have to run a last-ditch marathon if someone else beat their mark.

One drawback of having a trials race is that if the trials aren’t held on a fast course that limits the chances of achieving standard. In reality we only have 3 attempts to achieve standard (the standard hasn’t been announced yet, hopefully we know sometime in January).

Another drawback is if there is a runner who is head and shoulders above the rest but they are unable to run trials then they could be left off the team. The argument to that is an athlete needs to be ready to compete at a specific time, just like the Olympics, if you’re not ready that day you don’t get re-do.

If the trials were to be held within another marathon then there would be a lot of things to figure out. Would people be allowed to have pacers? If the race provides pacers for one runner would they be required to provide pacers for everyone vying for an Olympic spot? Would a race like STWM want guys who would normally chase the Canadian record playing it safe to finish in the top three Canadians?

It would be cleaner to have a separate race but then you might be hosting a race for only a handful of runners.  That would be a lot of work if it turns out to be a moot point, (fewer than four runners achieving standard).

In my opinion if the Olympic standard is going to be similar to 2012 (2:11:29) I would rather just have us all chase the standard and take the top three times.









  1. November 16, 2014 10:17 pm

    I like the idea of a trials just because it would be cool to see all the Canadian competitors race together but I think you’re right, the logistics don’t seem to make sense if we only have a couple guys getting the standard.

    Good luck in Kenya this winter while the rest of us slog it out in the snow!

  2. November 17, 2014 5:45 am

    We havent had a trails since 1984 and that was a great race indeed..i say a trials in its own race,rather than a trials within a would be great to see you dylan,eric,wiebe and anyone who might decide this is the right time to attempt their first marathon. glad all is working out for you. good luck with the training stint in kenya,but why wouldnt you go for the entire winter??


    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      November 17, 2014 1:21 pm

      Good question. I prefer to train for marathons in Guelph (not altitude). This way I’ll get a base in Kenya and come back for the specific marathon sessions.


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