Running down history

Robin
Robin Short
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Fewer seeks seventh straight title and a place among Tely 10 greats

Six-time defending Telegram 10-Mile Road Race champ Colin Fewer gets ready for a training run around Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s earlier this week. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

He’s won a half-dozen Tely 10 titles, is the second-fastest runner to cover the old course and has firmly established himself as the province’s preeminent road racer.

So what’s next for Colin Fewer?

Well, with six straight Telegram 10-Mile Road Race victories, Fewer has a crack at matching Cliff Stone and George Hillier, who each won seven straight championships — Stone from 1926-32, and Hillier from 1950-56 — with a win Sunday in the 2011 edition of the Tely 10.

Pat Kelly, the record holder with nine straight wins from 1933-1947 (there were no races from 1940-45, during the Second World War), is still a ways away.

Of course, there’s something else Fewer could shoot for — Paul McCloy’s course record, a blistering 47:04 established in 1985.

Sure.

Right after someone eclipses Wayne Gretzky’s 92 goals, Henri Richard’s 11 Stanley Cups or betters Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

“I still think people underestimate how good that time is,” Fewer said of McCloy’s benchmark, set during a time when the gangly St. John’s product was at or near the top of the list of Canada’s best middle- and long-distance runners.

“There are very few people in Canada who could beat that time,” Fewer said. “Even our top guys would have to make a really hard go at it to get under that time. I think our top distance runners could get under 48, but they’d have a hard go to derail that 47:04.”

The time, Fewer noted, is so good, had it been set on a flat course, it would still be a Canadian 10-mile record.

So what keeps Fewer going? Well, like any runner, there’s the desire to go faster each time out.

Last year, the teacher — who just turned 34 — copped his sixth straight Tely 10 crown by running 49:48, the first time he cracked the 50-minute mark. Only McCloy, who also ran 47:54 (in 1993) and 49:20 (in 1980), has run the 10 miles quicker.

“I’ve been doing this at a fairly high level for a number of years, and it’s one year to the next,” Fewer said. “I don’t think long term too much. Spring comes along, and you race. You’re tied up in that moment, and after that you think about the next race.

“What really drives me is I want to run faster each time out. I just got under 50 last year, and I felt I could have been a little better. Runners are like that, I guess. We’re never satisfied.”

A nagging leg injury finally behind him, Fewer is fairly healthy entering Sunday’s 84th race, save for the usual aches and pains.

He continues to maintain his usual weekly training distance of 80-odd miles, a regimen he’s stuck to religiously. In fact, he missed only one run since Christmas, a forced day off because he was moving.

In April, Fewer ran a personal best 30:27 at the Vancouver Sun Run, one of the world’s largest 10K races. Fewer finished tied for sixth overall.

“I think I would have broken 30 minutes,” he said, “but two packs separated and the lead group was pretty deep. There were five of us racing each other and the pace was on and off a little bit.

“I got a PB with a nice hard final kilometre.”

Fewer admits he’s well aware of Kelly’s nine straight titles, and imagines how many championships Kelly would have have reeled off if not for the break during the war.

“That’s a lot of wins, so I try not to get too far ahead of myself,” he said. “The fact I have an opportunity to go after seven is humbling. Looking down through the list of winners, I never thought I’d be in this position right now.

“But I’ve worked hard for it, and it definitely keeps you going a little bit. It’s really attractive to say you’re going after seven. And after that, who knows.”

rshort@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Canada

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  • Level Complete
    July 25, 2011 - 17:42

    Colin should set his sights a lot higher than winning 9 straight St. John's Turkey Trots. The Tely 10 is just a big local race. Nobody outside Newfoundland even knows it exists. If I was a top runner I'd be more interested in making national teams, lowering my PBs in big mainland races where I get my butt kicked by faster guys. It's onlt the Tely staff writers that give two hoots about this race, and they're told what to write!