It was in Ottawa in 2009. Succeeding imposing times from the Mile to the 10,000 Meters (PB’s) Reid heroically robbed the Canadian Marathon Championship – in his first ever race over the traditional 42,195 Meter distance. He went on to present his nation on Worldchampionchip level as well as the London Olympics over the same distance.
With the Rio games upcoming, Reid is now pumped to experience his second Olympic games this year. To set the foundation for another successful stint, the Hamilton native heads down to Kenya to get educated in the “University of Champions” yet another time. The infamous township of Iten, Kenya will be home for the Canadian once more. He luckily found the time to answer some questions before he jumps on the plane to East Africa!
RUNssel: A lot has happened since you competitively skated the Mile in 3:49 back in 2004 (Reid wanted to prove that he could skate a mile faster than he runs it). This years 2:10:28 ride around the streets of Berlin caused mixed feelings. Since the Berlin contest you had had some time to reflect on your performance and the result. Simply .5 seconds/km short of the 40 year old Canadian marathon best (Jerome Drayton ran a 2:10:09 in the 1975 Fukuoka Marathon) caused mixed emotions. Are you at terms with the race? Looking back, what have you learned?
Reid: As frustrating as it was to be so close to a goal I’ve been after for 6 years I was really pleased with the race. It had been four years since I ran a PB in the marathon so it was good to see progression. I also felt stronger than ever in the final 12.2 km of the race.
I’ve learned to enjoy the process and focus on the positives. That way I’m not too distraught if things don’t go perfect on race day.
Q – Your second Olympic Marathon is coming up in a few months. Is there a huge difference in the preparation for a championship race or a contest where you aim for a certain time goal?
A – Most of the training is the same for a championship race except I’ll intentionally run in hot conditions to prep for Rio. It won’t be killer hot in Rio but it will still be much warmer than spring/fall marathons. We will calculate equivalent paces for hot conditions. I will also train for hills and turns if the Olympic course will feature either.
Q – I recall a brief chat we had before you went to Iten, Kenya for the first time in 2011. Now it seems to be your second home, at least for the first 3 months of the year. In a few days you are going back to the Rift Valley for the 6th year. What makes this place so exceptional for you? Why Iten? I heard there are some steadfast dudes in Ethiopia too.
A – I really like the trails, climate, altitude and all the runners in Iten. I’ve been tempted many times to try Ethiopia but I have training partners in Iten and there is less of a language barrier in Kenya. Staying at HATC in Iten is very easy and I’m able to focus 100% on training and not worry about anything else.
Q – The Iten/ Eldoret region has altered quite a bit since the first time you went there for training. The townships still breed and there are more and more native and global runners training. Does this affect you in any way? How do you see the latest progress?
A – I personally enjoy the increase in number of runners in Iten. It’s cool to have more foreigners there and have many different training options. I don’t care for the increase in car and truck traffic which seems to increase every year. It’s great for the local economy to have an influx of runners and so far Iten seems to be keeping the same vibe and feel of a small town.
Q – I guess your preparation is already planned out for your imminent Kenya voyage. Do you have a particular focus? How does it change to the other camps you had down there? What does Dave Scott-Thomas have on tap for you?
A – I’ve overtrained a couple of times in Kenya by trying to run as much at 2400m as I do at 300m. Last year I ran less volume and came back feeling fit and fresh. This time around my focus will be on the World Half Marathon Championships (…in Cardiff on the 26th March) so I will be on the track more than usual for me.
Q – Will you be training with a group while you are over? Which of the standard sessions do you join?
A – I train with a couple of different groups in Iten so I can cater their sessions to my training schedule. I either run a tempo on Monday morning or track session Tuesday and then a fartlek on Thursday morning. There are two large groups who do fartleks on Thursday morning, I try and figure out Wednesday afternoon which session is closer to what I need and join that group.
Q – As a New Balance backed athlete, which and how many shoes would you use for your coming camp? What SPF are you using? Any other essential gear kit?
A – I’ll bring the Vazee Pace for most of my runs. 1500‘s for fartlek workouts, 1400‘s for marathon pace on the tarmac road and the 1600‘s for the track. I’ll use a SPF 30 or 50 and do most of my runs with a Ciele hat.
Q – Do you like Ugali?
A – Yes, I eat it almost every night for dinner, with sakuma wiki.
Q – Lets guise into the future. Do you have any plans or targets once you won the Olympic Marathon in Rio? Is that Canadian marathon record ultimately going to fall or will you aim for a professional skateboard career next?
A – Rio is the next marathon on my plan and if I finished in the top 10 I’d be very happy. After that I’ll look to take another shot at sub 2:10:00. After the roads I would love to get into trail races and ultra marathons.
Q – Speaking of skating. Are you still at it or is the risk simply to high? Any other sports you are involved besides running?
A – I was skating a bit after Rotterdam this past year and got carried away trying some tricks. I didn’t injure myself but had a couple of close calls. I still ride around but I keep it under control.
Q – I guess you are taking several books and a decent portion of music with you to Kenya. What will it be? What is your favourite record at the moment?
A – I just bought Two Hours by Ed Caesar and will start with that in Kenya. Right now I’m enjoying All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I’ve been listening to Dear Rouge lately and looking forward to the new Junior Boys album coming out in February when I’ll be in Kenya.
Q – Any fundamental instructions for Iten newbies?
A – Iten is hilly, its good to run hills before you go there, the elevation will be hard enough to get used to. Plus, if your legs have already got used to running hills there will be less soreness. Bring a lot of shoes as many local runners are in need of running shoes.