Anxiety of Influence

When I read over at Trimes last night that I was on their list of Canadian endurance’s (i.e. distance running and triathlon) most influential people, my first thought was: “well, that kind of kills the credibility of the list.” But actually, all the people above me on the list are indeed quite influential, and I think Alex put me on the list (last, by the way, but still on the list) because he appreciates my brand of honesty in discussing the sport. I assume that to be true because I think the same of him. If I were to make a list, I’d put him on it, too. Also, note that I was co-listed with Kyla Rollinson, which says to me part of the decision has to do with the way we are bringing our respective track and tri groups together. Craig Taylor and DST call it the “Aerobic Alliance” and they are doing it, too, further up the list.

But what does it mean, to be influential? Some of the people on the list are clearly important: Whitfield, for obvious reasons, is up there, as is DST. These people have changed or are changing our sport for the better, in big, big ways. Their inclusion is no surprise. 

With these lists, there is always the question of who is left off. I can see many omissions on the Trimes list, but that’s not a disparagement of Alex’s choices. It’s often a matter of who you know, and what you see.

As usual, people in Quebec will want to see more Quebecers on the list, or more francophones, or at least want a list of our own. I think a short, obvious list would include, in no particular order: 

Kyla Rollinson for shepherding some of the best young tri-talent. Pierre Leveillé, owner of Boutique Endurance, an Olympian and someone who, when he sees potential, is on it like a dog on a bone, always pushing for more. Félix-Antoine Lapointe, coach of the Rouge et Or. The athletes’ results speak for themselves, but you know when DST fingers you as the team he’s looking over his shoulder at, you are doing something right. Dennis Barrett, coach at McGill, and also race director for three big indoor track meets and a cross country meet. I’ve been seeing a lot of DB lately, and so maybe that is why I mention him here, but it should be known, if he doesn’t do what he does, there is a big void in the track world in Montreal.

There are others, but those are obvious picks. That these folks stand out to me probably has a lot to do with where I live and who I work with. Any list is going to be somewhat incomplete. 

I’d like to make a list of those who are perhaps a little more in the background. Names you hear, but not every day. Perhaps this is a a bit the result of where I am and who I know, but, hey look: there are three Quebecers on the list.

Jon Brown. Who is Canada’s fastest marathoner ever? Trick question. Jon Brown ran 2:09:32 as a Brit, in the 2005 London marathon, but moved to Canada in 2007 (or at least, that’s when he cut ties with the UK). He didn’t agree with the way Athletics Canada was running the show, though, so he never did run for Canada internationally. Now, he’s a coach in Victoria. He’s got his hand in a few pies, not least of which is Simon Whitfield’s. He is quietly positioning himself as a go-to coach on the island.

Marliou Lamy. Another west-coaster, though she was born in Quebec, Marilou is frequently cited as being the physiotherapist of choice for some of Canada’s top distance runners. Nathan Brennan’s return from injury was orchestrated in part from Marilou’s table. Dylan Wykes is working with her as well. She’s been on AC’s list for years now, and is one of those people whose behind the scenes work allows these runners to strut their stuff.

Ben Leduc. At one time, Ben was the top coach in Quebec, leading his horses in the Regina Mundi group to great heights, including the aforementioned Pierre Leveillé. He doesn’t coach any more, but he does run the Fondation Phillipe Laheurte, which provides funds for Quebec athletes to do what they need to do. Ben quietly supports the sport, even if he’s not as directly involved as he used to be. The track in St. Laurent is named after him. He’s a name you should know.

Christopher Moulton. In Guelph, all the talk is about DST, and with good reason. He’s a beast. But one of the head coach’s strengths is his ability to surround  himself with good people. Moulton has been the right-hand man at Speed River since the beginning, and in between marketing, athlete management, and coaching, he also runs TNFNorth, one of the go-to spots for distance running chatter in Canada. DST is on the weather network, but Moulton is making it rain.

Kris Mychasiw. Kris is an IAAF Authorized Athlete Representative. That means he’s an agent for track and field athletes who are in the top 30 in the world. His best known client is Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, the first Canadian to win an Olympic track medal since Donovan Bailey, Bruny Surin, and the 4x100m relay team in 1996 and she was the first female since the 92 Games. Kris also represents Bruny and Donovan in their current endeavors. Full disclosure: I talk to Kris every day. So I may be biased. But I do hear a lot of behind the scenes things, most of which I can’t repeat here. Suffice it to say that it is no coincidence that Taylor Milne was able to get into the New Balance Grand Prix and the Millrose Games both offering world class mile fields, shortly after Kris got on board with Speed River. So while his influence may have been mostly in the sprints and hurdles, Kris is now taking his talents to the distance events. 

There are others, but if we are talking about people who make it go, in Canada and Quebec, in endurance events, these people are it. Who is on your list?