Gearing up for the big day

Tely 10 stars talk about their experiences competing in the annual race

Published on July 23, 2013

This year, more than 3,200 people are registered for the 186th

Tely 10 Mile Road Race (registration closed midnight Sunday).

Joe Ryan wrote the book on the Tely 10 — literally. He knows all the records, both the well-known, like Paul McCloy’s course record of 47:04, and the not-so-well-known. Ryan, for example, holds the record for the greatest number of Tely 10s run by one person: it will be 41 this year (his 38th consecutive).

Ryan, who won the 1969 Tely 10, shares another Tely record with fellow St. John’s running guru Art Meaney, who will run his 32nd Tely this year.

Both Ryan and Meaney have run 21 Telys under 60 minutes.

“My 21 are over a 25-year span (1969-1994), plus one at 60:03,” says Ryan. “Art also has 21 under 60, but over a 23-year period (1977-2000).”

If you’ve already run a Tely, you know that running the 10-mile course under 70 or even 80 minutes is an impressive feat. But to have run under 60 minutes over 20 times is phenomenal.

Peter Browne, who has 14 sub-60 Telys under his belt, understands how hard it is.

“When I was in my 20s, 30s and part way through my 40s, I never thought twice about (running sub 60 minutes),” says Browne, who Meaney describes as “the best runner in the province to have never won the Tely 10.”

“Now that I am in my 50s it is like signing up to climb Everest,” adds Browne. “You have to complete the right training, avoid injury and, perhaps most importantly, know how to rest beforehand. After that, it is the hands of the gods.”

Ain’t that the truth. Just ask Colin Fewer, seven-time consecutive Tely champion, who will have to stand by and watch the race this year after recent hip surgery.

“It will be really tough sitting on the sidelines this year after competing in the race for 12 straight years,” says Fewer. “The Tely has become a huge part of my summer — a lot of what I do during that time is planned around the event.”

“The Tely has always allowed me to test my limits,” says Fewer. “But as tough as not competing in the Tely this year is going to be, it has been equally tough to train for the last two years with hip/groin injuries. Pain management and feeling that no matter how hard I try I cannot reach the goals I know I’m capable of … brought me to the point of making a decision. … I decided after the

Tely 10, 2012 that I would … get this looked after.

“I’m really not sure how I’m going to feel on Sunday morning on July 28. Part of me wonders if I will want to be around that day, but I have a lot of friends, family, athletes I coach, club members who are running and I would like to at least watch the race to show them my support as they have supported me the last 12 years. I also think it will motivate me to get back next year, stronger and healthier, and ready to once again have a good time in the Tely 10.”

Pat Kelly holds the record for the greatest number of Tely wins — 9. Fewer is tied with Cliff Stone and George Hillier with seven. Perhaps next year he’ll be back to claim his eighth victory and maybe in the future set a new record for the greatest number of wins.

Art Meaney, who had to sit out the 2011 Tely following a heart attack, knows how hard it is to have to stand and watch your running buddies compete. Meaney, who holds the record for fastest man in four age categories (50-54, 55-59, 60-64 and 65-69) hopes to run the Tely under his age this year. I won’t give away his age, but let’s just say that means under 69 minutes.

“Peter Power may break my 50-54 record this year,” adds Meaney, who ran 55:39 in 1994 at the age of 50.

That’s by no means as fast as his personal best of 51:51 in 1984 at age 40. Meaney also holds the record for the most Top 10 finishes: 19. His last was in 2000 at age 56. He was sixth with a time of 58:49.

Meaney knows it’s often not your personal best that wins the race. He won the Tely in 1979 in a time of 53:02, more than a minute slower than his personal best.

Fewer knows that, too. After winning the iconic race seven years in succession, Colin posted a personal best time last year (49:43) breaking the 50-minute mark only to come second to mainland runner Matt Loiselle.

Gold rings

Dave Ruggles is another mainland runner who’s taken top place at the Tely. Ruggles ran 51:07 in 1994 and is one of only two recipients of the Tely 10 gold ring (Paul McCloy was the other in 1993) provided by then-sponsor Jostens Canada Ltd., maker of the Stanley Cup and World Series rings.

“It was a great feeling winning,” writes Ruggles from his home in Ontario. “Big buildup and a bit of pressure with Chris Picard’s Picks and the ever-looming uncertainty of whether Paul (McCloy) was going to show up and create a whole other world class category that only he belonged to. The fact that there were a lot of other great runners to compete with, though, like Peter Browne and Scott Young (my rivals that year) made the victory very satisfying and the course … was a great one to be in the lead on — the downhill at the end and that sharp turn on the final stretch, plus the people out watching certainly got the adrenalin going and made you forget about the pain.

“I knew I was in good shape that year … but also knew that Peter and Scott were great runners and wanted it as badly (perhaps more as native Newfoundlanders) as me, so I took nothing for granted.  Just tried to stay calm and relaxed before and at the beginning of the race and make my move when it felt right to do so and not let up which, fortunately for me, worked out.”

Gene Noble, who ran his first Tely in 1979 back when the race ended near the Hotel Newfoundland, will run his 25th Tely on Sunday. His personal best came early on in his running career.

“My second year, 1980, was my personal best,” says Noble.

“I ran 58:40. I was 28 years old.”

That was also the year Paul McCloy changed history by breaking the elusive 50-minute mark with a blistering time of 49:20. McCloy still holds the overall record for the fastest Tely 10 — 47:04 in 1985.

“I am 61 this year and I hope to run in the 60s,” says Noble.

Florence Barron, a 75-year-old great-grandmother, is another record holder. Barron, who started running in her late 50s, holds the 70-74 female record in a time of 1:28 in 2011.

“I’ve always been active,” she says. “I raised five children in Wabush, Labrador. We were always outside. When I came to St. John’s, everyone was talking about this race called the Tely 10, so I ran it.”

Barron laughs when she recounts how she could hardly walk the day after her first Tely.

“The next year I started training with the Running Room,” she says. “The people I meet at the Running Room are so encouraging and treat me so nice, I have to keep doing the clinic year after year,” says Barron, who recently lost her husband to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I’ve learned so much about nutrition, hydration, stretching and running form. I would recommend people take Art (Meaney’s) Tely 10 clinic. It’s always so helpful to me.”

“Weather is always a factor — both cold and heat,” says Meaney, who has led the Tely 10 clinic for years. “Most runners pray for a cool trailing wind and a cloudy day. Nevertheless, smart Tely runners have trained in the cold and the heat and are never surprised by the weather gods.”

If you are not running the race but would like to be part of the hype, why not help out with race kit preparation Wednesday evening (July 24) at the Re/Max Centre (St. John’s Curling Club), 135 Mayor Ave. at 7 p.m. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have linking together four safety pins.

Susan Flanagan is a writer who will run her ninth Tely on Sunday. Her hat is off to her friend Peter Lewis who won the Tely two times and has 14 Top 10 finishes; as well as runners like Mike Boyle and Kevin Ryan who have run the Tely 36 and 35 times respectively. For a complete list of those eligible for Tely achievement awards (15 year-pin etc.), go to Contact Susan at



Mistaken Point feedback:

George Piatt, economic development officer, Department Of Innovation, Business and Rural Development writes: “I enjoyed reading your article regarding Mistaken Point. I would like to make two comments. The first is: ‘It was supposedly more than 500 million years ago’ to ‘It was more than 400 million years ago …’

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Author’s note: I apologize to Judi Devine, owner/operator of Irish Loop Coffee House, whose patrons are always delighted to find she serves non-deep fried and vegetarian dishes.