Tony Machado

Tony Machado is a dif­fer­ent kind of ath­lete. You won’t find him top­ping the podium, but Machado and The Ex­tra Mile Crew are he­roes in the eyes of the marathon­ers they help­ing to find their edge when they hit The Wall.

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - — CR

1 What is The Ex­tra Mile Crew?

The Ex­tra Mile Crew started three years ago at Ot­tawa Race Week­end. We’re vol­un­teers ready to of­fer on-route en­cour­age­ment to run­ners who want sup­port to reach the fin­ish line.

2 What led you to get in­volved?

Late in 2014, I was re­ally over­weight. I was walk­ing up a set of stairs, get­ting ab­so­lutely winded and I re­al­ized that some­one in their early 30s shouldn’t be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing that kind of dis­com­fort. I kind of just made the de­ci­sion to change my life at that point. It started slowly with walk­ing; at first I hated ev­ery minute of it, but walk­ing turned into walk-run­ning and then run­ning, and it kind of took off from there.

3 When did you run your first marathon?

2015, the Ni­a­gara Ul­tra Marathon. It went much bet­ter t han I ex­pected, those last 10 to 12k were re­ally tough, but the joy that I got out of com­plet­ing it was just amaz­ing. I’ve run 26 marathons since then.

4 At what point did you de­cide to help oth­ers?

In the Belleville area, at the Prince Ed­ward County Marathon in the fall of 2015. One of the or­ga­niz­ers was look­ing for some pac­ers, so I threw my hat in. I’ve paced close to 20 races since, from 5k’s to marathons. I ab­so­lutely love it.

5 How to did you be­come part of The Ex­tra Mile Crew?

I signed up for it last year and par­tic­i­pated and they asked me to be a team lead at one of the sta­tions. We had a re­ally good group sta­tioned at the 37k mark. It was re­ally hot at last year’s Ot­tawa Race Week­end so there were a lot of peo­ple that def­i­nitely needed our as­sis­tance.

6 What’s the ben­e­fit of The Ex­tra Mile Crew to those run­ning the marathon?

By the time you hit The Wall in a marathon, you’ve likely done the train­ing dis­tance but not the last full dis­tance. You might be phys­i­cally ca­pa­ble of do­ing it, but need that lit­tle ex­tra push for what­ever men­tal bar­ri­ers you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

7 How do run­ners find you on the course?

We’re sta­tioned in the full marat hon at var­i­ous points, start­ing at a round t he 31k marker. We wear br ight g reen shir t s that make us ob­vi­ous on the Ot­tawa course.

8 How do you know when a run­ner needs help?

When a run­ner sig­nals that they want a hand, an Ex­tra Mile Crew vol­un­teer will run along­side them un­til they reach the next vol­un­teer. Every­one’s unique in that re­gard so you’ ll have some peo­ple for whom it’s very ob­vi­ous. With oth­ers you look for more sub­tle signs.

9 What are some of your tac­tics to get run­ners over the fin­ish line?

We try to cre­ate what­ever men­tal dis­trac­tion we can for peo­ple. By the time we see the run­ners, they’ve fallen into that men­tal low and it’s re­ally ob­vi­ous they are not in a happy place. Every­one’s dif­fer­ent, but I may men­tion there’s an aid sta­tion com­ing up in a half kilo­me­tre, and they may say, OK, I’m good now. Oth­ers want you to walk with them; they want to tell a lit­tle about their story. Some­times just some­one, any­one dis­tract­ing them with any­thing gets them out of their rut.

10 Be­yond help­ing strug­gling run­ners reach the fin­ish line, what do you find most ful­fill­ing about be­ing a vol­un­teer with The Ex­tra Mile Crew?

That’s the great thing about the role – you find out about every­one’s story. Es­pe­cially the ones who want to talk, the back of the pack run­ners; they all have amaz­ing sto­ries.

LEFT Tony Machado races the 2017 Ot­tawa Marathon

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