Skip to content

Look up at the mountain, I have to climb, oh yeah

February 15, 2016

Ever since my first trip to Kenya in 2011 I’ve wanted to tackle the infamous Fluorspar training route. It’s called Fluorspar because there is a fluorspar mine at the bottom of the road. The route goes up for 20.4km, climbing from 1367m to 2741m in elevation ending in Nyaru, the smallest of villages.


Fluorspar is about a 2 hour drive from Iten so it’s a bit of trek to go there for a single run. However there are athletes making this trip from Iten quite regularly.


Gilbert Kirwa (2:06 runner and 2nd place at 2015 STWM) and Silas Kipruto (sub 60 half) told me a couple of weeks ago they were making the trip pretty soon. I told them I wanted to come for sure. They would meet at the petrol station at 3:30am the following Saturday. As I confirmed closer to the day they changed the meeting time to 4:20am. 4:20 didn’t sound so bad compared to 3:30.


Playing pool with Gilbert at Silas’ pool hall a few weeks ago

John Mason and I set out from camp at 4:10am on Saturday. When we got to the Petrol station there were about 40 Kenyans. Gilbert pulled up in his pickup truck and all of a sudden about 30 guys piled in the back. John and I looked at each other and noted “there’s no way we’re fitting in there.” And would we even want to drive for 2 hours in the bed of a pickup truck?


Gilbert came over to me and saw our predicament. He told us to wait for 5 minutes and took off. He ran home and drove back with his wife’s car and pulled up to the pumps.


With a quick little honk an attendant came out and started to fill up the car. It didn’t look like this gas station was open and I asked if it was open 24/7, “only if he recognizes the customer at these hours.” We gave him 2000 shillings ($27 CAD) as it was the least we could do for his troubles. Gilbert had to pick up Richard Mengich (sub 60 half) and two of his protégés on the way so at least the car wasn’t only for us.


We were finally on our way at 4:45am. We bypassed Eldoret by way of a 17km dirt road. Dirt roads in Kenya are really rough, if you can average 30km/h that’s very good. I was sitting shotgun eating granola bars and sucking back an Endurance Tap while guys in the back of the pickup were holding on for dear life. They all just held each other to form one unit instead of 30 individual guys.


We got back onto another paved road that kept climbing up and went past Kaptagat (a village with at least three elite training camps). We finally arrived at the top of Fluorspar hill. We only had one designated driver for 2 cars and one pickup truck. The two cars parked at the top and everyone piled into the pickup. Gilbert insisted I get into the cab. There were 4 guys in the cab and almost 40 in the bed.


We didn’t make it far before the guys were banging on the cab. No surprise, guys were going to fall out. It was decided that 15 guys would start to jog down the hill. The pickup would drive down until 5km from the bottom. Those in the truck would jog to the start and the truck would go back up and shuttle the rest down.

(Check my Instagram for video of the guys piling out of the truck)


John in the back

The views down this dirt road were nothing but spectacular. It was amazing to see this road cut out of the side of, what looked like, a sheer cliff. There are over 20 switchbacks along the 20km climb. On the drive down we passed a handful of runners, including Mary Keitany (sub 2:20 marathon).






The timing worked out well and we were finally all at the bottom of the run around 7:30am. They usually like to start at 6:30am to avoid the heat in the valley. But the late departure and the speed at which one could drive with 30 guys in the back of a pickup slowed things down.


The run starts at the gate and ends at the tarmac. Some guys add on a little at the top to make 21km even.



The troops getting ready.



Gilbert addressed the group and said the pace would start out at 4:25/km and shouldn’t get any faster than 4:10/km.


When the run started I was really curious to see how this was going to feel. The pace doesn’t sound that tough but I had been warned by other Kenyans that 4:10/km was a hard effort and the best guys in the world (who live at altitude and run this occasionally) run around 3:50/km.


We started off with a 4:25 km and then things progressed. The pack of about 40 guys slowly fell apart. I told myself to stay with the pack as long as I could. The same guys had absolutely crushed me the last two weeks during fartlek workouts. If I could make it past 10km with the front pack and not lose too much time in the second half I’d call it a successful run.


Somewhere around 6km we came upon a big dump truck that was struggling up the hill. It was spewing black exhaust and I was hoping it would speed up to give us a clear run. We ended up getting closer and closer. Just before we overtook it we could hardly see and the exhaust was nauseating. Even trucks struggle up Fluorspar.


You can see the detailed run on but we were climbing between 37m and 109m each kilometre. It never let up. My legs were tired and I was breathing pretty hard for the given pace. Hiding in the back of the pack we would pass villagers on the way up and once the kids would see me they would cheer “mzungu.” I could tell by their level of excitement there aren’t many wazungu running up Fluorspar.



I made it past 10km with the leaders. Around 11km the dirt road was under construction. It had been recently grated so the dirt was upturned and really soft. This lasted for about 2km. If the uphill and altitude wasn’t zapping enough energy out of your legs, the soft dirt sure would contribute.


Around 12km the pickup truck pulled up and I went over for my bottle. He handed me the wrong one and I asked for the other one that looked similar. He found it and I grabbed a couple of sips. After my drink I was trailing the pack of about 20 guys by 30 metres. It took a while to catch up but I finally did and felt confident that I could handle a slightly faster pace if they picked it up a bit. At times I felt as though I was on the edge, if these guys picked it up any more I was going to pop.


I told myself, “just get to 15km.”


Then, “just get to 18km.”


At 19.5km I was still with the front pack and the guys at the front (we were running 3 rows of 3) started talking about the Mzungu. I picked it up to the front row. They warned me not to push the pace, I told them not to worry I just wanted to hear what they were saying. They were just surprised I was still around.


I made it to the top in 1:27:01 (20.4km at 4:16/km) with the front group, which consisted of eight other guys. Richard Mengich was the only one I knew. The rest of the guys trickled in over the next 15 minutes or so.


Putting warmup clothes back on post-run. (2 cars and 1 pickup for 40 guys)



Getting back in the pickup for the trek home.


This tells me that my fitness is good (better than I thought) but my leg speed is my weakness right now. Not too surprising seeing that I haven’t done many fartleks or interval sessions since National XC champs. When I was injured I was x-training and only putting in volume, no intensity.


Fluorspar exceeded my expectations, both in terms of crazy travel to get there and the route itself. I pictured a more undulating route. This road climbs consistently the whole way, it never lets up until the very end (the 20th km only rises 15m).


It was a very unorthodox run for me, and I suspect for most runners. However most of the good marathoners in the Rift Valley region do this run at least once in a build-up. Some guys will do it a few times.


If it were closer to Iten I’d probably do it again but as it stands that will probably be it for me. Definitely one of the most memorable runs of my life.


The kids at the top crowded around me as I sipped water. Many ran away when I pulled out my phone, these guys stuck around.

Torok Falls

February 7, 2016

John Mason, Tom Lancashire, Colm Sheahan and I decided to make a little adventure out of a Sunday run. Last year I saw a sign “Torok Waterfall Tourist Attraction 2km” about 19km from camp. So we headed out that way with a matatu (hired van) in search of a waterfall.



Running down the road, followed by matatu


I was only running 13km (as I did my long run Saturday) and jumped in the matatu as the other guys added on to get in 26km.



Moses driving the matatu


When I was waiting at the junction in Kapkoi curious kids kept coming out of the woodwork. This little village of Kapkoi is 20km from Iten and over 10km in the other direction to the small town of Kaptagat. And the road is rough so not much traffic goes through there.



The sign I saw last year 19km down the road on an out-n-back 38km run


Kapkoi gas station



Village of Kapkoi



Post run picture. The kids are checking out their picture on my phone via GoPro


Once we were at the end of drivable road there was a 1km hike to the falls. At this point a few people became our tour guides. Brian and Edwin were good, but Peter Rono was really drunk and annoying. We only paid two of them.


Peter, in the foreground, is completely drunk. Edwin and Brian were good guides


Walking down to the falls



Upstream of the falls women were doing laundry



A couple of mini falls on the way to the big drop


The view from the falls was awesome but the view of the actual falls was obscured by trees. Most people visit the falls by the road at the bottom of the valley.


John and Colm on the viewpoint. This is where we really didn’t want drunk Peter hanging around



The falls are about 20 feet to the right of me but obscured by trees



Looking straight down the falls. I would have needed a selfie stick to get a picture of the falls from here



The viewpoint was incredible. So cool to see all the little villages below.





After the main view point we hiked over to the side to take pictures of the actual falls.


Tom and I taking pics of Torok falls


You can see the stream of the falls if you look closely


Below are pictures from below and from the sky I found on google



Kenya 2016

January 27, 2016

Here’s a link to the blog I wrote for the CBC “Players Own Voice” outlining my racing decisions heading into an Olympic year:

Canadian Record or Olympic Glory: What carries more weight in 2016?


I’ve been in Kenya for one week now and it’s been a different experience than my last 5 times here but eerily similar to my first trip. When one comes to Iten it’s best to be fit, used to running hills and uninjured. I’m none of those at the moment.

Before I left for Kenya I got an MRI to make sure my injury wasn’t anything that was going to stop me dead in my tracks. The results showed no stress fracture nor any ligament tear. With that news I decided to take off for Iten, Kenya.

The first time I came here I hadn’t run much in the 6 weeks prior to mid-January. That time I was able to get into decent shape and run well at the NYC Half Marathon on March 20th (62:42). I’m looking at a similar timeline this go around as I get ready for the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales on March 26th.

I ran 100km last week (you can see my training on Strava) with no quality. Yesterday I tried a 6km pickup in my run. I suffered on the 6km and felt horribly out of shape. On top of that I can still feel my injury when I run (it feels better as the run progresses). Where I’m standing right now it’s hard to imagine I’ll be ready for a big race in March.

On the bright side I can see some progress as I was able to include a pick-up and, generally, my injury is feeling better. Also, I’ve been in this situation before, where I start to question everything because I feel slow. I know if I can stay healthy the fitness will come. I just have to be patient and trust the process.

With 8 weeks to go from this Saturday there is still time to be ready for Cardiff. I’ll need everything to go right. If things don’t go great I will focus on another race later in the season. With Rio the main goal I can’t take unnecessary risks with my training now.

I don’t think it really matters to me if I train at altitude or not in the months right before a big race. But I find altitude and soft surfaces have an advantage when getting in a solid base. Right now I’m able to run a little slower and yet make it harder on my cardiovascular system with the altitude. I love the hills here (most of the time) and the dirt trails are probably better for my injury than being on the roads.

A few people have mentioned to me that it’s probably better to be somewhere warm to heal. I hadn’t thought of that much and not sure if it really makes a difference but it can’t hurt I guess.

I also got 2 massages the first 4 days I was here. At $7 for one hour the price is right. The first time I was slotted right after former marathon WR holder Wilson Kipsang, so I have to believe I’m in good hands.


This time around I’m rooming with John Mason. Once again there are many familiar faces at the camp and in town. I keep seeing some of the locals I’ve trained with and tell them I won’t be joining them until I’m fit. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can update that I’m running with the Kenyans here.



(I’m trying to get a lot of photos up on Instagram while I’m here. Follow @reidcoolsaet)


2016 off to a rocky start

January 3, 2016

I’ve been putting off writing a blog for a couple of weeks now. Mainly because I’ve been busy writing articles for iRun magazine and CBC’s Players Own Voice. The articles should come out later this winter. Writing has been a good way to feel productive between training sessions. (I wrote this article a few months ago on Olympic swimmer Andrew Ford).

The other reason I put off a blog is that I’ve been nursing an injury for the past two weeks. I was hoping it would have cleared up before 2016 and I could write a more upbeat blog. The good part is that this isn’t the worst time for an injury to pop up.

The week after nationals cross-country I travelled to China to pace the Guangzhou marathon on December 6th. I paced the lead women for 30km at 3:28/km. I felt a little sore the next day but nothing specific hurt (perhaps a 12 hour flight the next day tightened things up?). Around December 15th I started to feel tightness in my lower right leg but didn’t think much of it until the 20th.

On December 20th it hurt to run right off the bat. I stopped after 30 seconds to stretch and decided to give it a km or two to see if it loosened up. It thought it felt good enough (it wasn’t) and I ran 28km. The next day I woke up and knew right away I wouldn’t be running for a few days. There was a significant pain on my fibula head and tightness all through my lower leg.

Over the past two weeks I’ve loosened up all the muscles in that area but my fibula head is still really sore. I tried running the other day and I could tell that running was going to make it worse so I only logged 4km. The past few days I’ve just been in the pool and on the bike.

My physiotherapist thinks it’s tendinitis caused because my heel and ankle weren’t moving properly and in turn put too much stress on the outside of my leg. I hope that is the case and this can clear up shortly. My fear is that there is a stress fracture in the fibula head and I’ll be off running for another four weeks.

If this doesn’t clear up in the next two weeks I’ll have to postpone my trip to Kenya. I’m slated to leave January 19th but if I need a few more weeks of cross-training and physiotherapy I’ll stick around Guelph.

I had to think twice about going back to Kenya after all the doping allegations that were revealed in the ARD documentary. It makes me uneasy to know that there is a doping problem where I have trained. I figure since the doping scandals have come to light Kenya will be cleaner this year than last year. I believe the IAAF is conducting a review of Kenya and that there will be better anti-doping practices in place.

I know that Kenyan athletes were not always subjected to the same out-of-competition testing that Canadian (and many other countries) athletes are. Doping control can show up to my house (or wherever I input my location on the “Whereabouts” website/app) any day without warning. In Kenya the practice has been to tell the athletes when and where to show up, often having notice a week in advance. That sort of out-of-competition testing isn’t going to deter any athlete ready to cheat.

On this topic, I believe the 2016 Olympic marathon will be the cleanest Olympic marathon since the 1980’s. Mainly due to the inclusion of the biological passport and the IAAF putting pressure on countries to follow WADA’s rules. The biological passport has busted a few marathoners who have never tested positive for a banned substance and I’m sure is scaring a few more from doping.




Here are some pics from Guangzhou, China



A little bit of confusion at the Guangzhou marathon. The organizers had me talk to reporters at the press conference. I was up there with a couple of 2:06 guys. The Ethiopian refused to speak, the Moroccan was pretty good but I was asked the majority of the questions. I had to pretend I was going to compete the next day. It was weird but I think I pulled it off. The next day I paced the women.


The race put us up at the Shangri-La. It was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. This is the view out the back of the hotel. That is the outskirts of Guangzhou in the background. Needless to say a city of 13.4 million has a ton of high rises.


Shangri-La did a good job of the Christmas lights.


My wonderful girlfriend got me a GoPro for Christmas. I’m hoping to get some more content up on Instagram and this blog with it. The GoPro Session 4 is really small and easy to bring on a run now and then.




Halifax Winter

Nats XC

November 29, 2015


My one month XC season reached an end yesterday at the National Cross-Country championships in Kingston, ON. I ended up 5th in a competitive field and was happy with the result.

It’s been a lot of fun training for this race over the past month. Before it was announced that Ottawa Marathon was putting up $2000 for each of the Senior team titles we (Speed River) were planning on sending a team. Once the money was on the line we started to pay a little more attention to what it would take to win the team title.

I’ve been using these XC workouts to help my ‘speed’ whereas most of my teammates have been using the same sessions as their ‘base’ training. XC training seems to compliment both marathon and 800-5000m training from opposite ends.

It was a short build-up coming off Berlin Marathon September 27th, but it went well and I got in just enough sessions where I thought I could take a run at the individual title.

I haven’t raced national xc since 2010 but I’ve raced a handful of XC races in Europe and Kenya. The races in Europe have all been similar; Africans have taken the pace out hard. I’m usually not even in the top 10 after 2km and I claw my way through the field usually finishing 4th or 5th.

Yesterday I was slow off the line but by 600m I was right up there with the leaders. Throughout the race I pushed the pace a little here and there but I never really made a consistent fast pace. There was a big pack for most of the race until it stretched out in the final 2km. With about 1km to go Chuck P-T threw in a good surge.



Anyways, when Chuck took off with about 1km to go Ross, Lucas, Alex and Winter all responded faster than me. I started to ramp it up and went by Alex and Winter with 800 to go. Alex flew back by me and went all the way up to second, behind Ross. I lost ground to the top 4 and just made sure I wasn’t going to get caught by a pack of 4 guys right on my heels.

According to my GPS I ran my last km in 2:52. Basically, Ross ran a 2:42 and the other 3 guys in front of me were under 2:50. The guys just had too much ‘pop’ in their legs at the end of the race for me to compete with. My only chance was to push the pace to the point where they would have been more fatigued by 9km.

So, why didn’t I push the pace? Well, I wasn’t confident enough to lead it out (even though the calm conditions were conducive to front running). A couple times I pushed the pace for a few seconds and contemplated keeping it going but I never went through with it. Either way it made for a really fun race and good for the spectators too.

Ross, Alex, Chuck, Lucas, and me approaching the finish line.


Speed River ended up winning the senior men’s title, as well as both of the junior titles. It may have looked as though we easily won but Alex and Chris (who had the same singlets as Ross, myself, Taylor, Winslow and, Jeremy) didn’t count for our squad. They are registered with Quebec and BC so can’t count for Speed River (weird rules, don’t ask).

Full squad with the 3 banners.



At the after party someone mentioned this was the strongest field up-front for at least 20 years (20 years was an odd number to say). It was a really strong field yesterday (hence why I’m happy with 5th) but it hasn’t been that long since we’ve had comparable fields.

2004 Canadian XC results

2004 Top 6 with their SB’s:

Simon Bairu 28:28:69 10,000m (2004 NCAA XC champion)

Paul Morrison 13:26.57 5000m

Reid Coolsaet 13:31:01 5000m

Kevin Sullivan 3:34:43 1500m

Ryan Hayden 3:39:78 1500m

Dylan Wykes 7:58:70 3000m

2015 Top 5 with their SB’s:

Ross Proudfoot 13:29:32 5000m

Alex Genest 8:24:84 3000mS/C

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot 3:34:23 1500m

Lucas Bruchet 13:29:79 5000m

Reid Coolsaet 2:10:28 Marathon

You can see that Ross and Lucas at 13:29 are similar to 2004 Paul and myself at 13:26 and 13:31. Chuck and 2004 Sully are eerily close at 3:34 over 1500m. Alex Genest lines up well with 2004 Hayden/Wykes, 8:24 3000m s/c and 3:39 1500m/7:58 3000m. Bairu was a XC specialist at the time (2 NCAA XC wins in a row), he ran 28:04 on the track 6 months later.

What is crazy with today’s depth is that there were notable absentees; Cam Levins, Mo Ahmed, Justyn Knight and Matt Hughes. From memory there weren’t many  big names missing in 2004.

What’s also interesting is if you compare what college system the top 10 runners attended in 2004 and 2015:


Simon Bairu NCAA
Paul Morrison NCAA
Reid Coolsaet CIS
Kevin Sullivan NCAA
Ryan Hayden NCAA
Dylan Wykes NCAA
Nigel Wray NCAA
Marcel Hewamudalige NCAA
Brent Corbitt NCAA
Jeremy Deere CIS


Ross Proudfoot CIS
Alex Genest CIS
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot CIS
Lucas Bruchet NAIA (Canadian school)
Reid Coolsaet CIS
Kevin Tree CIS
Ryan Cassidy CIS
Chris Winter NCAA
Nick Falk CIS
Evan Essalink NCAA

2004 had 1 CIS athlete in the top 9
2015 had 1 NCAA athlete in the top 9

These are just one off examples so you can’t really make any conclusions but I bet there is a trend of better runners staying in Canada over the past 10 years.

We had 7 Speed River athletes in the top 24, 5 of whom counted for Speed River

1 Ross Proudfoot SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD 30:06.9
2 Alex Genest Zénix de la Mauricie 30:09.8
3 Charles Philibert-Thiboutot C. A. Université Laval 30:11.2
4 Lucas Bruchet POINT GREY TRACK & FIELD 30:12.7
5 Reid Coolsaet SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD 30:16.9
7 Ryan Cassidy O2 30:18.1
9 Nicholas Falk University of Windsor Ath 30:18.9
10 Evan Esselink DURHAM DRAGONS ATHLETICS 30:26.5
11 Emmanuel Boisvert C. A. Université Laval 30:27.5
12 Yves Sikubwabo C. A. Université Laval 30:41.6
13 Taylor Milne SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD 30:43.8
14 Stéphan St-Martin Coureur Nordique 30:51.3
15 Sami Jibril NEWMARKET HUSKIES TRACK C 30:53.0
16 Jeffrey Archer PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON 30:53.4
17 Pier-Olivier Laflamme Coureur Nordique 30:54.4
19 Keenan Viney UNATTACHED ALBERTA 30:58.5
20 Blair Morgan PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON 31:00.4
21 Joel Deschiffart NANAIMO & DISTRICT TRACK 31:03.4
22 Shoayb Bascal VICTORIA INTERNATIONAL RU 31:09.6
23 Robert Winslow SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD 31:11.1
24 Jeremy Rae SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD 31:15.8


IAAF’s sponsorship regulations from the medieval age

October 22, 2015

When I was a kid restaurants had smoking sections where people could puff away on their cigarettes indoors. The non-smoking section was typically separated by an imaginary line which meant everyone smelled like an ashtray at the end of their meal. In my opinion it was inevitable that they would eventually ban smoking completely in restaurants. It was the same with same-sex marriage. We knew that the correct policy would be put into place where everyone would have the same right to marry. The crazy thing is that there were people lobbying against moving forward.

In athletics there are advertising rules that need to be adhered to at certain levels of competition. I’m specifically referring to the regulations on logo size and the number of logos athletes can have on competition gear at IAAF sanctioned events. In my mind it’s inevitable that the IAAF will someday enter the 21st century and do away with such regulations. Or, at the very least, amend them to reflect the current state of marketing in sport.

The regulations document can be found HERE and are really specific, take section 3.1.8 for example:

Flower and Award Ribbons

If awards or flowers are given to Athletes, the name/Logo of the Supplier of the flowers or the name/Logo of up to 2 Sponsors may be displayed on both sides of the two ribbons which may be attached to such flowers. The maximum height of each individual such display shall be 5cm.

I’m not actually concerned with the flowers. My main sticking point with all the regulations is that athletes can only have one company logo on their singlet, with a maximum size of 30cm2. As well as one club logo on the front, with a slightly bigger size restriction of 40cm2.

Limiting the size and amount of logos on our competition gear limits the amount of advertising we can promote and hence the amount of sponsorship dollars we can earn. It’s hard to make a living in athletics and the rules set out by the IAAF make it even harder to make a buck.

Other endurance sports such as cycling and triathlon see athletes promoting many brands at their biggest competitions outside of the Olympics.

Mens-run-in-Hamburg-credit-Delly-Carr-ITU chris-froome_2578649b

An energy drink company approached me earlier this year and was interested in sponsoring me. Their agenda was to get exposure at the Berlin marathon by having their logo on my singlet. I told them there were logo restrictions at IAAF races and they said they would have their team do the research. I’m sure they read the IAAF document because they never got back to me.

Last week I was helping out the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) race organization with the elite athletes. One of my jobs was to check the singlets, shorts, arm warmers, gloves and socks that the athletes would wear during the race. If a logo was too big we would put a piece of tape over the logo. Tape would also be placed over second (or third) logos. Sometimes that meant placing tape over local club logos which were too big. I felt bad doing this but at that stage we just didn’t want any trouble for the athlete or the race’s standing with the IAAF.

Truth be told I forgot to look out for temporary tattoos Sunday morning on the STWM start line.

New Balance gives me two singlets to wear each year. One that reads “new balance” in big letters across the front and one which only has a small logo. For most of my races I wear the one that reads “new balance” but for the big marathons I know to wear the other singlet so I don’t need to put tape on my singlet. It’s crazy to me that we cannot promote companies to the fullest. These are the companies which support athletes so they are able to train and compete at a higher level.

It’s hard to understand how putting tape over “Speed River” or having a smaller “NB” logo helps the integrity of the sport, or whatever it is the IAAF thinks they are doing with these regulations. These rules will inevitably be amended. I just wish they would hurry up with it while I still have sponsors wanting space on my gear.

Due to popular demand, here is a picture of John Mason with tape over a ‘large’ “Speed River” logo.


Berlin Marathon

September 27, 2015

A quick update here between currywurst and crepes…

Temperature was perfect, wind was nothing I should complain about (but I probably will). Course was flat. Crowds were good.

The pacers were set for 65:00 through half, roughly 3:05/km. After a few km it was apparent that our pack was pretty big, perhaps close to 20(?).

The first 5km was a bit slow (15:32), which made sense why I felt so relaxed.

From 5km to 10km I thought I might be in trouble today because it felt really fast. We ran that 5k in 15:12, which made me excited that we were now under pace and we could slow down to 15:20-15:25 and it would feel easier.

We reached halfway in 1:04:57. I felt great and was pumped that I didn’t need to run faster the second half to hit my goal.

Just after halfway some guy in our pack was complaining to the rabbits that we were running too fast. Michael Shelley told him we were perfect. He complained some more. Scott Overall said we were right on pace. He kept complaining to the pacers. Being the closest to him I yelled in his ear “WE’RE PERFECT!!” He kept quiet after that. If it’s too fast then drop back.

At 25km we were only 6 seconds off the pace and I realized that we can’t keep sliding like this or 2:09 will be lost. Slide some more we did as one of our two pacers dropped out.

Whenever the pacers went too slow a car would pull up and tell the pacers the previous km split. The car pulled up and said “3:07”. Because 23km to 29km is slightly uphill I wasn’t worried with a 3:07 knowing we could run some 3:03’s when the road went downhill.

Then a 3:08. OK, just relax.

Then a 3:11. At that point I ran shoulder to shoulder with the pacer in order to let him know to pick it up. I told the Kenyan pacer, in Swahili, to run a little faster.

Still, another 3:08.

Then I pushed the pace again and he got the point and ran a bit quicker, but maybe not for too long. We ran 25km to 30km in 15:39, 14 seconds slower than ideal and now 20 seconds behind schedule. If I kept losing 14 seconds every 5km I wouldn’t even crack 2:11 (if my post-marathon brain can do math properly).

The pacer dropped at 30km and I took over the pacing duties creating a small gap on the rest of the pack. I was ready to be aggressive, nothing to lose with the 2:11:24 under my belt from Rotterdam earlier this year.

There was a little bit of wind so when a couple guys caught back up I was OK to tuck in. It didn’t last long though as I felt the pace lag so I took off on my own again.

From 30-35km I ran 15:18 which clawed back 7 seconds. If I did that again perhaps I could get the remaining 6-7 seconds in the last 2.2km. I had to commit and fight the doubts clouding my thoughts.

Around 35km two guys caught up to me. I saw a bright yellow singlet and assumed it was Michael Shelley (2014 Commonwealth marathon champ and 14th(?) at 2012 Olympics). However it was Koen Naert, a young Belgian friend who was running his 2nd marathon(!). We worked together and dropped the Japanese athlete. I sat behind him a bit to get some respite from the wind here and there.

At 40km (2:03:43) I realized I had lost time again running the previous 5km in 15:35. At that point my main motivation was to run a PB and run the second fastest Canadian marathon time ever. It was also cool knowing I was in 6th or 7th.

Coming into the finish I could see the clock and the time was under the Canadian record. It was an indescribable feeling that over the course of 42,200m I just needed to be 120m up the road to break the Canadian record.

I crossed the line in 6th place running 2:10:29, 20 seconds off the Canadian record and 30 seconds off my main goal.

I’m happy running a PB, it’s been 4 years since I ran 2:10:55. I was really happy with 6th place in this race, especially when I look at the guys who beat me. I’m also happy with how I closed, 6:45 for the last 2.2km.

It’s frustrating to have missed the record by .5 seconds/km. A lot of things went right for me: the build-up, staying healthy, weather, good pacing/competitors… Not many things went against me although those are the things that have been popping into my head since finishing (bad pacing 25-30km and having to lead a lot in the last 14km).

I’ll take the positives and use this as a step in the right direction heading into an Olympic year.

A few people have asked if I’ll chase a 2:09 before the Olympics and I’m 99.9% sure that I won’t. I don’t want to take too many or any big risks leading into Rio. I’m excited for the next phase which is a great place to be in a few hours after a marathon when your legs are telling you “no”.

Strava data


Pos. number Name ac club Erw. Diff Time
1 Kipchoge, Eliud (KEN) M30 Kenia +00:00 02:04:00
2 Kiptanui, Eliud (KEN) MH Kenia +01:21 02:05:21
3 Lilesa, Feyisa (ETH) MH ETH +02:57 02:06:57
4 Mutai, Emmanuel (KEN) M30 Kenia +03:46 02:07:46
5 Mutai, Geoffrey (KEN) M30 Kenia +05:29 02:09:29
6 Coolseat, Reid (CAN) M35 Canada +06:28 02:10:28
7 Naert, Koen (BEL) MH Belgium +06:31 02:10:31
8 Shegumo, Yared (POL) M30 Polen +06:47 02:10:47
9 Gokaya, Koji (JPN) MH Japan +06:58 02:10:58
10 Overall, Scott (GBR) M30 GBR +07:24 02:11:24

2015 Berlin Marathon Berlin, Germany   September 27, 2015 Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET

2015 Berlin Marathon
Berlin, Germany September 27, 2015
Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun

2015 Berlin Marathon Berlin, Germany   September 27, 2015 Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET

2015 Berlin Marathon
Berlin, Germany September 27, 2015
Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun

2015 Berlin Marathon Berlin, Germany   September 27, 2015 Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET

2015 Berlin Marathon
Berlin, Germany September 27, 2015
Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun