The Trials are upon us. The rarefied air of Calgary poses little challenge to the beasts of the East. They are ready. I’m here in Calgary with two fine young men, ready to take on their greatest challenge yet. It is exciting. For coaches, parents and managers, it can be nerve wracking, because we can no longer influence the outcome. Not that we ever really could. But all the little things we do to help, well, they’re done. Tomorrow my job is to drive the car and hold the bag. That’s it. I’m pretty much the bagman. Just gotta stay out of the way and let the boys do their thing. And I’m ok with that, because they are ready. I am calm.
Let me introduce you to these young fellas. Ryan you may know. He’s a dragon. He’s had an up and down year, but when you PB in events from 1500 to 10k, it’s mostly up, let’s be honest. Sometimes I think these little setbacks are blessings in disguise, as it prevents us from going overboard. Yeah, he ran 4 races in 9 days in May, and none of those were PBs, but having run that gauntlet, and come out of it with only a sore toe and a hankering for steak and OJ, he’s stronger. He’s an aerobic animal: he feeds off the long stuff. And he’s a rythym runner. So the fact that he’s never been that far off his fitness, just feeling off, makes him dangerous. He’s feeling good, and when that’s the case, he’s tough to beat. You do not want to mess with a confident dragon.
He’s come out and said he wants a medal. I respect him for putting it out there. It’s not going to be easy. 10000m on the track is never easy. Plus he’s going to have to fend off some very worthy competitors: Mo Ahmed (27:34) will surely be toying with the field. Adam Hortian (30:46) is a savy vet. Connor McGuire (NT but entered at 31:30) is a strong young runner. I don’t really know the other names; that means nothing. But the dragon is confident, and that means something.
The other member of our two-man contingent is Guillaume Ouellet. He is currently the Canadian leader in the T13 1500m, with a time of 4:09.08. What does that mean, you ask? That’s not that fast, you say? Well, consider this. T13 athletes are visually impaired. Guillaume’s field of vision is about 10 degrees. Yours and mine is about 120. Flying around a track at speed with no peripheral vison is not easy. The cool thing about G, as we’ve taken to calling him, is that he’s relatively new to the sport. He’s been running for the Victoriaville Vulcans for the last couple of years, but this is the first time he’s focused on the 1500, being mostly a 5k/10k guy. And he’s currently ranked 6th in the world. (His time hasn’t been added there yet, but he’s in the AC rankings, ahead of Canadian record-holder Stu MacGregor).
So G is kind of a big deal. But he doesn’t act that way. He’s a funny, friendly, chill dude. (He did have an incident at the airport that we’re not talking about, but other than that, he’s chill. Lol.) He is a bit of a longshot to make the Paralympic team this year, but he’s ok with that. The altitude is going to make it hard for him to run the A+ standard tomorrow. Still, a Canadian championship is on the line, and he will have to take on the reigning T13 champ to get it. MacGregor is not ready to pass the baton just yet. After that, we’ll see. He wouldn’t be the one to tell you, but he’s pretty confident that, given time, he can re-write the record book, and compete with the best in the world. I believe it. These Trials are a first step.
So, yeah, these are the guys I am hanging out with this week. My job is easy: make sure they are comfortable, happy and confident going into their races. It’s been made easier still by our gracious hosts, the Dykstras. Thanks Phillip, for letting me use your room. Thanks, Luke the Cat for sharing a bed with me, even if you smell like skunk. Luci is our official photographer for the week. Check back here for some cool action shots and follow her at @mtlendurance and @dykstralt on Twitter for updates.
The moment has arrived, gentlemen.