“Content to Run Under the Radar” by Paul Gains

TORONTO. October 11th.  As we approach the final stretch of our race week for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon there’s still time for one of two more great features from Paul Gains that have made such a huge difference in the build up to STWM this year. They’ve helped us get to know some of the stars — both international and Canadian who’ll be battling it out up front on Sunday.

Today its the turn to bring alive 3 Canadian guys — two citizens and a Landed Immigrant who are regular racers in Canada Running Series and on the roads — but as developing stars that we still don’t know so well. Who are these up and coming Canucks who could pull a few surprises Sunday morning in the duals for places in the London 2012 Olympics. .

Rob Watson of Guelph, Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, and Matt Loiselle of Toronto may not be in the spotlight as much as Reid Coolsaet or Eric Gillis, but are all strong runners, more than capable of pulling off some surprises on race day as part of the strongest ever field of Canadian runners that STWM has ever had on the Start Line.

Content To Run Under the Radar

by Paul Gains 

Much attention has been focused on the battle for Canadian Olympic team places at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label race. 

True, Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes have credentials that indicate an Olympic berth is within grasp but, in their shadows, others are quietly toiling away and could provide some surprises. 

Rob Watson finishing a tough debut marathon in Houston in January

Rob Watson trains with Coolsaet and Gillis at Guelph’s Speed River Track Club and, although his marathon debut at the 2011 Houston race didn’t go exactly according to plan – he finished in 2:16:17 – he learned much that can be applied to the Toronto race. 

“That was an eye opener, a punch in the arm, to what the marathon is all about,” says the 28 year old Colorado State University graduate. “Going into it my training was great; I was pretty ambitious. That last six miles was like nothing I have ever felt before in my legs or my whole body. It definitely takes experience to run a marathon. If you aren’t ready for it it’s quite a shock.” 

Watson who represented Canada at the 2009 IAAF World Track and Field Championships, in the 3,000m steeplechase, went out hard in that race passing the half way point in 65:28. But he erred, he believes, by going out too slow the first mile then fighting to get back on pace. The result was ‘a lot of junk in my legs’ early on. 

A chronic hamstring strain has limited his training through the summer and he reverted to cross training. Still, he has managed 190-200 kilometres a week while working fifteen hours a week at a consulting firm. Through the summer he operated a waffle stand at the Guelph Farmers’ Market. 

“I had ten weeks averaging 120 miles a week (190km+),” says the London, Ontario native who moved to Guelph, Ontario . “So I am not too worried about it. I have a huge reservoir. I’m still running 120 to 130 miles a week. Now I want to get quality runs in. My overall base is pretty solid.” 

Asked what he talks about when he goes on long runs with Gillis and Coolsaet he laughs. 

“Going out there it’s a social event,” he says. “Like guys going out for beers. Eric’s into politics so we talk about that. Reid is always making bad jokes. That’s one of the best things about the group I am in. We’re having fun with the group. Then the workout starts and I immediately hate Reid and Eric because they hammer me.” 

Kip winning the Scotia Vancouver Half marathon in June, over Loiselle & Watson

Kip Kangogo is no stranger to Canadian athletics having won the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon as well as the Canadian 10,000m title last summer beating Reid Coolsaet. The Kenyan citizen has landed immigrant status since graduating from Texas Christian University so his Canadian championship victory was unofficial. 

“I have always wanted my first marathon to be on Canadian soil and I think Toronto is the best place to do it,” Kangogo says. “The Toronto Marathon is growing bigger and bigger every year. 

“This being my first marathon I am hoping to run to the best of my ability and surprise myself in the process.” 

Kangogo who lives in Lethbridge, Alberta returned to Kenya last summer where he got married on August 6th at Kabarnet AIC Church in Baringo District. He hopes to receive his Canadian citizenship next year. 

“I have been thinking about moving to some place in B.C. to focus on training,” says the 32 year old, “but first I have to wait until my wife gets to Canada. Then we can decide where to live together. By then she will have know a bit about Canada.” 

Matt battling it out with Josephat Ongeri at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal last year

Another talented runner who has been piling on the miles is Matt Loiselle. Though his 2:19:02 from last year wouldn’t ordinarily turn heads the fact he is a year stronger and injury free – thanks to a stretching and strength program supplied by former Canadian 1,500m record holder Dave Reid and conditioning guru Phil Wharton – is reason to believe he could be in the mix if the big names struggle. 

“I learned from my last marathon performance that I really needed to change some things if I wanted to be an Olympic-caliber marathoner,” he says. “Not just the basics, such as mileage and good workouts, but all the little things such as consistently stretching, doing strength exercises, eating well, and just living a better lifestyle. Training hard isn’t enough. 

“Training is going pretty well, especially compared to last summer’s lead up to Waterfront. The mileage has increased and the quality of the workouts seems to be better than last year. One week I hit 220 km, my highest ever.” 

The 27 year old Toronto resident credits the Brooks Marathon Project as enhancing his interest in marathon running although he is no longer living in the Brooks House. 

“Brooks has provided some financial support, but the contributions go beyond that,” he explains. “Having Hugh Cameron, Dave Reid, and Eddie Raposo around as coaches has been great for my running career. They dedicate a lot of time and energy, while never asking for a penny or recognition. They are three different personalities and I think the mix works well. And, I will always be grateful to Mike and Paul Dyon (owners of Brooks Canada) for providing me with this opportunity.” 

A personal best of 29:22 at the Ottawa Race Weekend 10km on May 28th followed by a steady 3rd place finish at the Acura Toronto 10 miler (49:26) in August indicate he is progressing fine. 

As the spotlight falls upon what is potentially the greatest marathon ever run on Canadian soil these three are content to prepare behind the scenes. Something tells me a surprise is in the works.

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