Celebrating Canadian Distance Running: 2012 Olympic Edition

There’s already been plenty of ink spilled about the London 2012 Olympics, and we certainly don’t want to flog a dead horse (or a live one for that matter), but it’s worth pausing to reflect again on how amazing it was to have three upstanding young Canadian dudes (Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes) competing in the marathon – not to mention other young runners like Mo Ahmed and Cam Levins tearing up the track in the 10,000m and 5,000m events.

Amazing because it was the first time since 1996 that Canada could field three athletes in the men’s marathon. Amazing because so many people sat up and took notice – it effectively put Canadian distance running back on the map. And amazing because all of our marathoners ran an excellent race and gave everything they had (even if Coolsaet didn’t feel like he was able to race to his full ability/fitness on that particular day). In fact, as Coolsaet and others have pointed out, if you calculated a team score based on the individual finishes of our three runners (Wykes 20th, Gillis 22nd, Coolsaet 27th) like they do in a cross-country race, Canada would have placed third in the marathon behind only Kenya and Brazil. Not too shabby!

Clearly, the world of Canadian distance running is an exciting place to be right now. And gritty Olympic performances from runners like Wykes, Coolsaet, Gillis and Levins (who was under the weather during the 5,000m final) are breathing new life into the sport and inspiring a new generation of Canadian endurance athletes – as well as those of us who have been around for much longer… Indeed, watching these guys compete, we all got a little tougher and hopefully a little faster.