Pound­ing the East Coast Pave­ment, Quickly

In just one year, a Halifax coach has trans­formed a small in­for­mal train­ing group into a pow­er­house run­ning club, with PB’s ga­lore.

Canadian Running - - GOLDEN SHOE AWARDS - By Tara Camp­bell

When Lee McCar­ron was ap­proached by a group of Halifax’s top road run­ners to take over af­ter the pass­ing of leg­endary coach Cliff Matthews lit­tle did he know he was about to em­bark on a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In July 2015, four months af­ter coach Matthews suf­fered a fa­tal heart at­tack while in Kenya train­ing with one of the coun­try’s top mas­ters run­ners, Denise Rob­son, 10 of his run­ners reached out to McCar­ron in hopes of filling the void left by their beloved coach. “They had gone through some op­tions, like on­line coach­ing, or hav­ing some­one within the group lead­ing it,” said McCar­ron. “The main thing they wanted was to keep that core group to­gether.”

McCar­ron, who was in his fourth year as as­sis­tant coach with the Dal­housie Univer­sity cross-coun­try team, sat down with a cou­ple of Matthew’s for­mer ath­letes and talked through the po­ten­tial op­por­tu­nity. It didn’t take long for McCar­ron to sign on.

“I knew I could take on 10 and thought I could meet their needs,” said McCar­ron. He kept the sched­ule Matthews had es­tab­lished – meet­ing Wed­nes­days and Satur­days – and away they went.

McCar­ron’s ap­proach to coach­ing has con­sis­tently been to put the ath­lete’s fo­cus on the process rather than the re­sults, and he brought this at­ti­tude to his new group of ath­letes. “PB’s aren’t ev­ery­thing, it’s about en­joy­ing the process and I think that what I’ve re­ally been able to fo­cus on that with the group,” said McCar­ron. “Suc­cess will come if you’re able to en­joy it and have fun, in­stead of stress­ing over the lit­tle things.”

And in­deed, suc­cess has come. Since em­bark­ing on this new chal­lenge McCar­ron’s ath­letes, who have adopted the Road Ham­mers as their of­fi­cial name, have been light­ing up the At­lantic Canada road rac­ing scene. “Al­most ev­ery­one within the group has set at least one PB over the last year, and many have run PB’s al­most each time they race,” ex­plained McCar­ron.

The Road Ham­mers’ suc­cess on the roads has caught the at­ten­tion of the lo­cal run­ning scene and be­yond. McCar­ron has been bom­barded with re­quests from run­ners to join the club, and he’s wel­comed more than 50 run­ners on board over the past year who have met their standard times.

“When I took on 10 ath­letes last year, I didn’t think we’d ever be able to bal­loon to where we are now, which is more than 60 mem­bers – with in­ter­est weekly,” said McCar­ron. The over­whelm­ing re­sponse to the club, and its suc­cess proved enough for McCar­ron to make a ma­jor shift in his life. This past Septem­ber he left his as­sis­tant coach­ing po­si­tion at Dal­housie to fo­cus on

the Road Ham­mers.

“I en­joyed ev­ery minute of it [at Dal­housie], but I just can’t coach ev­ery night of the week,” said McCar­ron. “I stepped away in or­der to be able to grow the Road Ham­mers the way I’d like.”

As McCar­ron cont in­ues to build his club, he re­mains hum­ble and very much aware of the spirit in which the Road Ham­mers was founded.

“Lead­ing Cliff ’s run­ners is an hon­our, they had such a spe­cial group within the city, and Cliff was amaz­ing to all of them,” ex­plained McCar­ron. “He built a great le­gacy within the com­mu­nity, and I’m grate­ful to be able to con­tinue that.”

“Suc­cess will come if you’re able to en­joy it and have fun, in­stead of stress­ing over the lit­tle things.”

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