The His­tory of Marathon­ing in Canada

Paul Gains chron­i­cles our na­tion’s marathon his­tory, with a look to­ward the fu­ture.

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Paul Gains

Cana­dian marathon­ers have long made an im­pact on the world stage, turn­ing in great per­for­mances in some of the big­gest races on the planet, from the early days of Tom Longboat through to ground­break­ers, such as Sil­via Rueg­ger and Jerome Dray­ton. Paul Gains chron­i­cles our na­tion’s marathon his­tory and looks to­ward the fu­ture.

Forty-two kilo­me­tres is a very long way to run un­less you’ve un­der­gone months of prepa­ra­tion. Even then, a marathoner can turn up on the big day and en­counter mul­ti­ple vari­ables that con­spire against his or her de­sired re­sult, such as weather and in­ad­e­quate fu­elling, tac­tics or pace­mak­ing de­ci­sions. To be the very best marathoner in the world is a phe­nom­e­nal achieve­ment, but what is the yard­stick? Be­fore there was an of­fi­cial iaaf World Cham­pi­onships, the world’s great­est marathon run­ners de­scended on Fukuoka, Ja­pan each De­cem­ber in this marathon crazy coun­try. Win­ning Fukuoka was a spe­cial achieve­ment, which earned one leg­endary sta­tus. When Canada’s Jerome Dray­ton won the race in 1975, break­ing his own Cana­dian record with 2:10:09. Never did he ex­pect that his time would still be in the books 43 years later. Un­doubt­edly, Dray­ton was the world’s pre­mier marathoner for a time and cer­tainly set the stan­dard for se­ri­ous Cana­dian run­ners to fol­low. The longevity of Dray­ton’s record, though, has largely over­shad­owed his stel­lar ca­reer. He won Fukuoka three times, as well as the 1977 Bos­ton Marathon. He took sil­ver at the 1978 Com­mon­wealth Games, and fin­ished sixth in the 1976 Olympics de­spite be­ing ill. But Dray­ton’s record has eluded many Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing the man who has come clos­est to beat­ing it, Reid Cool­saet. The Hamilton, Ont. res­i­dent ran 2:10:28 at the 2015 Ber­lin Marathon.

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