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Three weeks to go

March 24, 2015

Weather looks alright in Guelph lately. Perhaps I should have stayed in Kenya through February and returned to Guelph in March. Would have saved me a couple of flights! Oh well.

Training is going well and I’m seeking out a couple of asphalt runs a week to get used to the surface. I went down to Eldoret (2100m) on Monday for a 35km run with 26km at marathon-effort on a, relatively, flat paved road. It’s hard to tell exactly what pace I should run with the altitude and hills (plus wind that day). However, the effort feels right and according to a friend who looked up Daniels’ altitude conversion charts I was right where I should be. For my specific sessions, which differ from what the groups do, I recruit a few Kenyans to keep me company. On this particular session I had three guys run with me. They only managed to keep up for 13 of 26km but then jumped in and out of the van to run with me for a few km here and there throughout the second half. Afterwards I learned that two days before one guy ran 38km and the other did a trail marathon (Rift Valley Marathon). I think they thought they would still be able to keep up with the mzungu despite the quick turnaround.

On Thursday I joined the ‘Boston’ group for 25 x 1 minute / 1 minute rest. The route these guys do is a big net uphill. It’s been really windy here the past week (which means rainy season is approaching) and that gives me a little more motivation to tuck in the front pack and not lose contact.

In between hard sessions I’m keeping my runs easy, making sure not to overdo it. I’m avoiding running with the Kenyans a lot of the time to make sure recovery runs are just that, recovery runs. One ‘easy’ day I met up with them and they took off faster than 3:40/km right off the bat. I let them go after 2km and then the women came by and they too were going faster than I wanted. The funny thing is that the fastest marathoner in the group that day (2:09 guy) was at the back of the women’s pack. He knows he can’t push hard 5 days a week.

Check out the article on Eric, Dave and me in Impact Magazine


Monday was a sad day at the camp. When I was having breakfast I heard that CPR was being given to a Canadian. There were already a lot of people in and around Ethan’s room so I didn’t want to get in the way. And when I saw Ethan (runner from Halifax) walking with Denise Robson (marathoner from Halifax) I was relieved, although they both looked really worried and shaken up. And then someone informed me that it was Cliff being taken care of in Ethan’s room.

Cliff and Ethan had just returned from their early morning walk when all of a sudden Cliff collapsed. Ethan, who was untying his shoes, was able to catch him. He yelled for help and started administering CPR. Other athletes and coaches who heard Ethan cry for help were on the scene right away.

An Irish doctor staying in Iten arrived at the camp pretty quickly as well as an ambulance. As much as everyone tried, in the end it was Cliff’s time to go.

Cliff Mathews was a running coach in Halifax (coach to Ethan and Denise) and although I only got to know him in the past couple of weeks he was an easy guy to talk to. For the most part my interaction with Cliff was really casual, talking about running and whatnot. On Saturday night however we got talking about lots of things and the two of us stuck around the dinner table and continued chatting after everyone left.

Cliff was an interesting guy who collected art and antiques. We talked about the antique markets close to Guelph and Hamilton that he would travel to. How he had recently acquired and sold a Maud Lewis painting, And how he almost got his hands on a Tom Thompson.

Last Tuesday at the track he was talking to a bunch of Kenyan runners (including a 2:04 guy and a two-time world champion). I went over to see what he was talking about. He was telling them about periodization, recovery and nutrition (a few things most Kenyans could improve on). Even though Cliff didn’t have high coaching credentials he knew his stuff and was humble in his delivery. The Kenyans showed him much respect for the time he took to help them out.

Cliff seemed really happy the last couple of weeks and was really connecting with the running community here. If the last two weeks represents the way he interacted with others I can’t even imagine the scope and depth with which he touched the running community in Halifax over the years.

CBC article

Cliff talking with a local athlete at Kamariny track.








Iten market




  1. March 25, 2015 5:32 am

    reid, glad to hear all is going well in your final preperations.

  2. pbfvoo permalink
    March 25, 2015 10:17 am

    thanks for this report reid – and really appreciate that you highlighted a bit about cliff. running (at every level) is truly a community-based activity even if it is an individual sport. his life, work and legacy are worth highlighting, and you’ve done an honourable job of it here.

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