By Robin Short
Telegram Sports Editor
Dan McNeil, the janitor from Halifax, dropped into St. John’s over the weekend and mopped up the opposition in Sunday’s 86th running of the Tely 10.
The lanky 6-5 native Cape Bretoner, with a not-so-classic 80s mullet, blitzed the opposition yesterday morning to cover the Paradise-to-St. John’s route in 51:11, two minutes faster than his nearest rival.
It’s the second straight year a runner from mainland Canada has won the race. Matt Loiselle of Windsor, Ont., ran the 10 miles in 48:09 last summer, the third-fastest time ever recorded.
Loiselle, who was injured and unable to compete Sunday, is a nationally-ranked marathoner with eyes on Canada’s world championship team and a berth in the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics.
McNeil is not quite in that class yet, but the 27-year-old product of Glace Bay is working hard to see where he’s running career can take him after four years and a national collegiate silver medal with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men.
“There’s definitely still some work to do, and I really don’t know what will happen,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement in the last year or two. I really don’t know what my potential is, but I want to see what it is.
“I’m giving it a shot. I’m putting the work in so we’ll see what happens. All you can control is working hard and getting your homework done. Then you accept whatever happens.”
McNeil ran in this year’s Boston Marathon, finishing in a disappointing 2:31. Now his sights are on the Chicago Marathon in October, and the 10-mile Tely road race fit perfectly in his training schedule.
The 2013 champion said he’s heard of the Tely 10 for several years — “it’s a pretty well-known race” — and finally decided to enter last Wednesday. His friend, Brent Addison, ran last year and competed again Sunday, placing third in 53:28.
McNeil arrived in St. John’s Saturday evening, ran Sunday morning, collected his hardware and flew home Sunday night.
“I didn’t get a chance to see the course, but Brent gave me the lay of the land,” he said. “I knew there was a lot of downhill in the first five miles and a couple of uphill miles in the second half.
“I went out pretty conservatively, but I was feeling really good. I had bit of a lead and I knew if I was feeling good at the half-way point, I could really put the hammer down in the second half.”
Local runner John Angelopoulos was second in 53:25, part of a very close group of four which included Addison, Ryan Brockerville and David Freake.
For Angelopoulos, the finish was another positive sign on his road to recovery after he was struck by a car just over a year ago. The 39-year-old from the capital city was on a training run when he was hit near the Holiday Inn in St. John’s.
“I got banged up a bit ... lower back, hip stuff, whiplash that I’m still getting some physio work. The neck is still tweaked out, but it doesn’t really affect the running,” he said.
Angelopoulos said he felt good at the five-mile mark, but then the heat — it was 18 degrees at 7:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the start of the race — became a factor.
“It was gut-check time from there on,” he said. “We (Addison, Brockerville and Freake) played with McNeil for the first five miles, but after about 5.5 miles, he pulled away and that was it.”
For Brockerville, it was his first 10-mile race since Grade 12.
Since then, the Marystown native has been running track for Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. and just recently returned from the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, where he missed out on a berth in the top 12 steeplechase final by 200 one-hundreds of a second.
“It was fun for the first 10K, but then it got tough. It was hot out there,” Brockerville said of the Tely. “I hit a different pain. A 10K is about six miles, and those four miles may as well be 40.
“I’m a miler, not a 10-miler, put it that way.”
Brockerville finished in 53:31.