Club Scene

Mile2Marathon, Van­cou­ver

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Ta­nia Haas Ta­nia Haas is a writer and run­ner based in Toronto.

The first hur­dle to a faster fin­ish for mem­bers of Mile2Marathon is usu­ally a men­tal one. Once the Van­cou­ver-based run­ner de­ter­mines they want to im­prove their speed, they’ll likely get nudged to the club by friends or the in­ter­net. Just be­fore com­mit­ting, that self-doubt will make them hes­i­tate: “Am I re­ally good enough to train with Olympians? Won’t these elite run­ners balk at my cur­rent form?” But then they join a Tues­day night run, and so much fun is had, that any re­main­ing in­de­ci­sion melts away with the post-run freezies.

“My only ex­po­sure to Dylan Wykes was as a pro­fes­sional run­ner, Olympian and third-fastest marathoner in Cana­dian his­tory,” says Devon McGuire. “So with­out any other con­text, I was very in­tim­i­dated by his ac­com­plish­ments, cal­i­bre and place­ment. I fig­ured he’d look at me as this slow, recre­ational mom­run­ner. This was ob­vi­ously not the case.”

Dylan Wykes cre­ated the club with Michael Woods back in 2013. Wykes, a mem­ber of the 2012 Cana­dian Olympic Team at the Lon­don Games, where he placed 20th in the marathon, and Woods, an elite track run­ner turned pro cy­clist, com­peted in the men’s road race at Rio in 2016. As their clien­tele grew, so did the crew (they now have four other elite-level coaches). Four years later the once on­line-only club can ex­pect be­tween 15 to 40 peo­ple at their Tues­day and Wed­nes­day nights and Satur­day morn­ings.

“What we have learned as elites is ap­pli­ca­ble to ev­ery­one,” says Wykes. “It’s im­por­tant to be smart about your ap­proach, and more isn’t al­ways bet­ter. We like to get to know our ath­letes and find out what mo­ti­vates them, and then struc­ture a per­son­al­ized ap­proach.”

McGuire joined M2M at the end of 2014 when she set her sights on qual­i­fy­ing for the Bos­ton Marathon. Over two-and-a-half years, she dropped her marathon time from 3:55 to 3:21, saw her half-marathon time drop from 1:43 to 1:34, ran Bos­ton, ran her first 50k ul­tra – and en­joyed a cou­ple podium fin­ishes along the way.

“Our spe­cialty is mak­ing peo­ple as fast as they can through proper train­ing,” says Rob Wat­son, a M2M coach who rep­re­sented Canada at the 2013 World Cham­pi­onships in the marathon. “To be suc­cess­ful as a run­ner you need to trust your­self and your in­stincts. And have fun. Peo­ple can have fun and run fast at the same time, it’s not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.” McGuire can at­test to that. “The M2M guys have cul­ti­vated such a great at­mos­phere of fun and ca­ma­raderie that they at­tract these kinds of peo­ple. Ev­ery­one in­volved is so sup­port­ive of one an­other, right from the Olympians and elites down to the mom train­ing for her first 10k,” says McGuire. “There is hard work, struc­ture and ded­i­ca­tion but also a ton of jokes and laughs.”

The Van­cou­ver run­ning com­mu­nity is di­verse, com­pet­i­tive, close and for­tu­nate. Run­ning with M2M may mean meet­ing in a Kit­si­lano park­ing lot, tak­ing in the city’s mag­nif­i­cent vis­tas and fin­ish­ing with the sun­set. Or gru­elling hills along pine-lined streets or tempo runs around the track. Freezies are a given on hot days.

“I would want to em­pha­size that per­sonal coach­ing isn’t just for elites, pro­fes­sion­als or “fast” guys,” says McGuire. “If any­one is on the fence about it – please put the ap­pre­hen­sion aside and give it a try. I can 100 per­cent con­firm that both Dylan and Rob are su­per down-to-earth, ap­proach­able guys; two of the best I’ve met in this com­mu­nity.”

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