Wins a sixth straight Tely 10 title, but it's his sub-50 minute time that means the most
For the past four summers, on the final Sunday morning in July, Colin Fewer edged closer and closer to his chapter in the Tely 10 history book.
Colin Fewer pumps his fist after winning his sixth consecutive Telegram 10-Mile Road Race Sunday at the Tely 10 finish area on Bannerman Road. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
There was 2005, his first championship in the 10-mile road race, a 52-second win over Dean Alyward. And the 50:11 showing in 2007, one of the quickest times ever clocked in the Tely.
Four straight crowns entering the 83rd race yesterday morning.
But trailing Fewer, nipping at his heels, was the, ‘yes, but...’
Yes, four consecutive titles, but no breaking the elusive 50-minute barrier, a gnawing — troubling? — asterisk chasing the finest distance runner Newfoundland has to offer.
Fewer finally cracked 50 minutes, clocking 49 minutes, 48 seconds, first among 2,625 finishers in the latest version of the Tely 10 which started 8 a.m. Sunday in Paradise and wound up on Bannerman Rd. in St. John’s.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, playing out this scene in my mind 100 times in the last 10 years, probably 1,000 times,” he said. “And it’s just as good as I had imagined.”
The win was Fewer’s sixth straight, placing him in some very elite company. Only Don Coaker, George Hillier, Pat Kelly and Cliff Stone have won six consecutive Tely 10 titles.
Kelly holds the record of nine straight wins, interrupted by a five-year break during the Second World War.
Marystown’s Grant Handrigan, Fewer’s erstwhile training parter before the former moved to Quebec City to complete a PhD in kinesiology, placed a distant second in 51:21. Steve Boyd of Kingston, Ont., Fewer’s coach, was third in 51:55. Rounding out the top five were Montreal’s Graydon Snider (52:33) and Alyward of Port au Choix, who’s always in the hunt for a top five placing, in 54:58.
Only two runners have ever gone under 50 minutes in the Tely — the great Paul McCloy (four times) and Harold St. Croix. McCloy still holds the course record, a blistering 47:04 in 1985, two years before he represented Canada at Seoul Olympics.
“It’s been on my mind for years,” admitted the 33-year-old Fewer of the 50 minutes. “But it was just a matter of getting the training and the confidence to go after that pace. Of course, you can say you want to do something, but getting out there and doing the work and staying healthy is another story.”
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, playing out this scene in my mind 100 times in the last 10 years, probably 1,000 times,” Colin Fewer said.
For much of the winter, like most of the elite runners, Fewer’s homework came in the form of 70-80 miles a week, logged on the city’s streets in St. John’s and trailways near his Paradise home. Payback for the long, lonely hours trudging through the sleet and rain and fog came on a glorious Sunday morning, in temperatures nearing 20 degrees.
Fewer didn’t do anything especially different yesterday than in past years, other than enjoying the benefit of a bit more jump in his legs.
At the five-mile mark, Fewer had a 20-second cushion on his assault at 50 minutes, a needed boost given the seventh mile which, he said, is usually a 5:10 or 5:12 distance.
“A second each mile doesn’t seem that much when you’re running a five-minute mile,” he said, “but you have to stay focused within the race. You can’t let yourself drift off.
“It’s a long race and if you don’t stay focused on the pace each mile, you can wander off. Really, you have to break those miles down a little bit and stay on your toes and stay honest with the pace.
“When you get tired, your mind can drift and you can fall off five or 10 seconds on that mile, and then you spend the rest of the race catching up.”
At the nine-mile point, Fewer found himself a couple of seconds ahead on his pursuit, but to be on the safe side, knew he had to run below five minutes down the stretch to finish in 49-plus.
Of course, that’s a bit easier with the great, big monkey off your back.
“He had about five metres on me at one mile and he just kept going after that. He was running by himself,” said Handrigan. “It was an awesome race. It’s been four or five years coming for him.”
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