Grand River Endurance, Southern Ontario
“They know our singlet and our reputation as fast people. We are connected by our goals for faster times.” “We’re all about connection and support.”
Abig void can remain after a varsity runner graduates university. Gone are the days of state-of-the-art facilities, the motivation of team practices and camaraderie coupled with competition. With necessity being the mother of invention, that void was filled for a small group of runners based out of Southern Ontario with the creation of the Grand River Endurance. Drawn by the need to go fast, and to inspire continuous personal bests, members of this nine-member club are collecting titles and elite-level times. Meeting Wednesdays for interval training and saving long runs for the weekends, gre attracts members from Paris, Brantford, Cambridge and the surrounding areas. It’s like a post-grad varsity team for road runners – but with talk during runs of families, professions and other characteristics of non-student life.
“We’re all about connection and support,” says Josh Bolton, 27, a kinesiologist and former member of the Windsor Lancers cross-country and track teams. His current focus is on the half-marathon distance and plans to build to a fast marathon in coming years. He says new members search the club out after seeing members finish towards the front at local races.
“They know our singlet and our reputation as fast people. We are connected by our goals for faster times,” says Bolton, who speaks proudly of his wife and fellow club member’s seventh place ranking in the Canada Running Series in 2016. Tanis Bolton is the group’s only female member, a status she’s fond of.
“I’ve always been someone who’s had a hard time not comparing myself with others,” says Tanis Bolton. “This is why a team full of men is ideal for me.” She says this small group allows her to work hard and not get in her head, comparing herself with teammates. “I also love running with them because it forces me to keep my pace honest. Especially during long run days,” she laughs. “The boys push me to run harder and more consistent than I would on my own.” Tanis Bolton says its a supportive environment because they all look up to each other.” Everyone knows how to train hard and put it all out there on the line. These guys are mentally tough and this is something that I’m continually working on myself.” She also admits that she secretly gets enjoyment out of saying, "I can keep up with the boys." “It gives me a lot of confidence.” Tyler Chacra, age 30, also saw his times go down with his raising confidence.
“Because my running schedule is mainly focused around family and work I found it really hard to commit to anything,” Chacra admits. “After sharing some laughs, stories, aches, pains, and of course, beers with Josh and a couple other club members after the Mississauga Marathon, I quickly realized joining gre was the right decision for me,” says Chacra, who finished second that day with a 2:33.
“We’re like-minded individuals who share similar views on life but also offer very unique perspectives on training, racing and nutrition,” says Chacra. “We’re in contact on a day-to-day basis, providing updates with our training, inspiring each other to be better and most of all creating a supportive environment that encourages everyone to hold themselves accountable. We are more than just a running club. We are family.”
Another success story of the club is that of Rob Brouillette. Rob was the back-to-back winner of the 2015 and 2016 endurrun Ultimate 160k. The challenge features seven different distance races over eight days, in the Kitchner-Waterloo area. From Sunday to Sunday, competitors complete the following distances in this order: half-marathon, 15k time trial, 30k cross-country, 10-miler, then a rest day, 16-miler, 10k time trial, capped off with a marathon. Rob’s cumulative time ranked as the third fastest ultimate time ever and the fastest in 12 years. The race reported that his 2:37:22 marathon time to cap the week was the 22nd fastest marathon by a Canadian male in 2016. Their slogan? “Think fast, be fast.” There’s no doubt about that. Tania Haas is a writer, runner and yogi living in Toronto.