The Telegram (St. John's)
The best has yet to come
Even after all these years, Colin Fewer — on the cusp of Tely 10 history — feels he’s yet to run his fastest race
Those who make their way to Quidi Vidi Lake in early August will often hear rowers pine for the “perfect pond”, which would drive you nuts because this being Newfoundland, there’s no such thing as perfect weather conditions.
Now we’re talking about a hope for near-perfect conditions Sunday, for the 90th annual Telegram 10-Mile Road Race — the Tely 10 — and the annual trek from Paradise to Bannerman Park that’s expected to again draw close to 5,000 runners and walkers.
Colin Fewer turned 40 this month — he’s in a new age category now, officially a masters runner — but the reigning champion believes his best run is still in the legs that have carried him to nine Tely titles, depending, of course, if everything comes together.
This year’s race has the potential to be a milestone event for the Paradise resident, who is currently tied with Pat Kelly for the most all-time Tely victories.
Fewer has endured challenges, including his share of injuries, ranging from numerous leg and foot ailments, to a hip problem that required surgery four years ago.
Couple that with weather that’s been all over the map — the 2015 race, run in temperatures that were under 10 degrees, was sandwiched by a 2014 event where it was already in the mid-20s by 9 a.m., and last year when a heavy downpour was followed by 20-plus degree temperatures — and Fewer hopes for the elusive perfect storm coming together to make for a perfect run.
“There’s no doubt I still have it in the legs to run my best race,” he said. “The last few months of training, I feel I’m right there again to run my fastest.
“But you have to factor in a lot of things.”
Fewer owns two of the top 10 fastest times in race history — not bad considering Paul Mccloy has four of the quickest showings — and reports his training has been where he’d hoped it would be at this time of the year.
But there have been hiccups. He ran in the Vancouver Sun Run in late April and on the Tuesday before leaving for B.C., had his calf cramp up during a light run.
The problem persisted in Vancouver — “I got through the race, but I didn’t run as my training had dictated” — which led to some therapy when he returned home.
In late May, he ran the national 10K championship in Ottawa with what he described as a nasty head cold. Nonetheless, he was the eighth Canadian to finish, 17th overall in a field of almost 9,400 runners.
“I know,” he chuckled, “it always seems like there’s some sort of excuse.”
Fewer hasn’t been busy on the local road race scene, competing in only a couple of races. Clearly, the Tely 10 is his main objective, especially now that he’s poised to run into the history books.
Kelly, the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Famer, won nine straight Tely 10 titles from 19331947 (the race was interrupted from 1940-45 because of the Second World War).
“Making history, I suppose, is not something I really think about,” he said. “You try not to get too caught up.
“But as the race grows closer, and when you sit back and give it some thought, it becomes kind of surreal. When you’re younger, you think, ‘Who would have the longevity to do that?’ Or ‘Who would want to train that long?’ Geez, as a young runner, you’re just happy to win one race.
“And now, you look at how close you are to breaking it, and you think what an honour it is.”
Fewer won’t have to worry about two competitors from last year. Barring a late registration, Graydon Snider of Montreal was not expected to run, and Marystown’s Ryan Brockerville is running for Canada in the Francophone Games, which opened Friday in Africa.
Snider was second last year, just under a minute behind Fewer. Brockerville placed third.
One runner who is returning is Toronto’s Matt Loiselle, who placed fourth last year. Loiselle, who’s had his own share of injury issues, won the Tely in 2012 and 2015 with the thirdand fifth-fastest times ever recorded.
Loiselle and Fewer duelled in Ottawa at the national 10K, running neck-and-neck with Loiselle edging out Fewer by one second at the finish line.
“I’m not sure if he’s as fit as he was when he ran 48 minutes (48:09 in 2012, the third fastest time recorded behind Paul Mccloy’s 47:04 in 1985 and 47:54 in 1993),” Fewer said of the Windsor, Ont. native, “but I’m sure he’s fit enough to give this a shot.”
“There’s no doubt I still have it in the legs to run my best race. The last few months of training, I feel I’m right there again to run my fastest.”