Lead-up to the Saskatchewan Marathon

The Saskatchewan Marathon is by far the biggest running event in Saskatoon. It boasts a large 10K and half marathon in addition to the feature full marathon and draws several thousand runners – a lot for our sparsely populated province!

It was announced several months ago that the speaker for the pre-marathon pasta dinner would be Reid Coolsaet. The Saskatoon running community was buzzing with excitement about this, and the buzz heightened when it was announced that Dylan Wykes would be speaking as well. Reid and Dylan represented Canada at the London 2012 Olympics in the marathon; this was the first time since 2000 that Canada had any men meet the tough 2:11:29 Canadian standard. Canadian runners were thrilled when THREE men met the standard and ran for Canada last summer.

Dylan Wykes and Reid Coolsaet at the 2012 London Olympics

Dylan Wykes and Reid Coolsaet at the 2012 London Olympics

A week or so before the marathon Brainsport announced that Dylan Wykes would be leading a group run from the store on Thursday evening! A friend graciously agreed to watch my kids for a couple of hours so I could take advantage of this rare opportunity.

Professional runners (at least Canadian ones!) are such fantastic people. Dylan held back to stay with the group for a 5.6 km run at about a 5:50/km pace – good for us, but painfully slow for him I’m sure! About 15 people had come out for the run and Dylan migrated through the group to chat with each of us. When we stopped at a water fountain he posed for a picture with two kids who were playing in the park. Dylan was very humble about his accomplishments and offered encouragement to all of us. It was an inspiring experience to run with an Olympian!

Dylan and I before our run.

Dylan and I before our run.

On Saturday the kids and I headed in to the city for the race expo. Having three kids at a race expo definitely makes it easy on the wallet! I’m not a good shopper with kids in tow. 😉 We did manage to get a picture with Reid Coolsaet and listen to his Q&A. He answered some great questions about fueling, sleep habits and other hot topics among runners.

Reid, my kids and I

Reid, my kids and I

The kids “helped” me pick up my race package. It was loaded with coupons for local running businesses including Brainsport and my favorite granola-type cereal, Choo-It. I was also happy to see that the back of the adidas technical t-shirt included a picture of a Boston Strong ribbon.

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I dropped the kids off at my parents’ place then and headed back over to the expo for the pasta dinner. This is an event I buy a ticket for every year. Just the speaker alone is worth the very reasonable $25.00 ticket price, the supper is a bonus!

I was alone at supper, but found a lovely group of ladies to sit with. Julianna was running the 10K and her friend Kim was running her second half marathon. Both women had brought their 15 year old daughters along to hear Dylan and Reid speak.

Dylan took the stage first to tell us about his Olympic experience. Canada doesn’t have as many elite runners as the U.S., so our athletes qualify for the Olympics by entering existing races and running them under the Olympic standard, rather than having an offical Olympic Trials like they do in the U.S. Dylan didn’t make the standard on his first attempt at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, so he tried again in Japan where he had to withdraw from the race and received a disappointing DNF. Just three weeks later, with the Olympic deadline looming, Dylan traveled to the Netherlands where he had run his first marathon (in 2:15 just four years earlier). Everything clicked and he finished in 2:10:47, a personal best and the second-fastest marathon by a Canadian, ever. Dylan went on to finish in 20th place in London.

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Reid, who placed 27th in London, told us about his winters spent training in Kenya at the high altitude training centre. Of course, Kenya is known for producing a large number of elite runners. As Reid said, “running is their NHL.” Kenyan children aspire to become professional runners like North American kids want to be professional hockey players, doctors or lawyers. It was entertaining to hear Reid’s stories about transportation, nutrition and the differences between running in Kenya and running in Canada.

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Both Olympians then responded to open mic questions from the audience. My question: When you go for an easy, slow run, what’s your pace? They told us that their easy pace is a conversational pace, about a minute slower than their race pace. With a race pace of 3:05/km, their easy pace is about 4:05/km! WOW! That’s crazy to think about and blew my mind!

After supper Julianna and I got a group picture with the guys before heading for home.

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I was happy to have the opportunity to have both Dylan and Reid sign my race bib. It was a little mental boost to have something like that along for my race. Last year’s Saskatchewan Marathon speaker was Bart Yasso and he signed my bib, so I wanted to have Dylan and Reid sign it this year!

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Runners at the pasta supper were also told about a couple from Utah who were in attendance and would run on Sunday. They had run a half marathon in every state and province, except Saskatchewan! They ran Red Deer last weekend to check Alberta off their list, and after finishing the Saskatchewan Marathon would be able to say they’d completed this ambitious project. They chose a truly beautiful city to finish in, and seemed happy to be there.

Overall, it was a very inspiring evening and was the perfect lead-up to race day!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Wow! You had a great time this go round. Nice run for you as well. Keep it going!


  2. Pretty cool!
    My friend Karma ran the 10K, we met for brunch afterward. You & she are both inspiring me to try taking up running again 🙂


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