Colin Fewer rebounded from hip surgery that cost him most of the 2013 road racing season to win Sunday’s Tely 10, his eighth title that now places the veteran runner from Harbour Main in sole possession of second place on the all-time wins chart.
Now Fewer is poised to pen a new chapter in his quest to re-write the Tely 10 record book, and that’s an unprecedented 10 victories which would vault him past the great Hall of Famer, Pat Kelly, who has nine.
Fewer’s time of 50:50 Sunday morning in the 87th edition of The Telegram 10-Mile Road Race in St. John’s was good enough to put him one up on Cliff Stone and George Hillier, who both have seven wins.
Kelly won nine championships between 1933 and 1947, a period of time that saw the race cancelled six years from 1940-45 because of the war.
“It’s a bit surreal,” said Fewer, a 37-year-old St. John’s teacher.
“As a kid, I always looked at the list of winners and thought, ‘These guys were machines.’
“They were kind of like boyhood heroes, and I can’t believe I’m sort of in that mix.”
Fewer had the surgery in June, 2013 and was sidelined for last year’s Tely. He finished second to Matt Loiselle of Windsor, Ont., in 2012, ending a streak of seven straight Tely 10 titles.
Fewer’s time Sunday was the 19th-fastest clocked on the course. Of the top 25 times in the Tely 10, Fewer is the owner of five of them.
“Ten Tely 10s sounds nice,” he said, when asked about breaking Kelly’s record, “but I have a lot of work to do.
“I have to be ready to go under 50 (minutes) from here on in, and I know that more than anyone. That’s where I want to go with this, and that’s where my training will be focused.”
Nova Scotia’s Dan McNeil, the 2013 winner, was second in a time of 51:58. Another Nova Scotian, Lee McCarron of Halifax, was third in 53:37, followed by David Freake of St. John’s in 54:01 and Peter Power of Paradise in 54:05.
Sunday’s race was run under very hot weather conditions, which Fewer said affected the times. As a result, the lead pack had to make adjustments from the start.
“It might have been one of the slowest mile starts I’ve had, and that was probably because of the weather and the fact I am coming off an injury,” he said.
“Plus, I wanted to see what the field was doing. I guess they were sitting on me a bit, so I sort of ran a really conservative second mile. Then I tried to get back under that five-minute mile pace a little bit.
“I started to feel the heat a bit on Topsail Road near the O’Neill Motors area, so I figured, ‘I better be careful and get through 10K to see how I feel.’”
Despite missing virtually a full road racing season, Fewer felt he had the fitness to go under 50 minutes, but did acknowledge he was nonetheless pleased with his time Sunday.
“If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would run that, I’d have been super happy,” he said. “And I am now.
“It was hot out there. But when you have those one-shot deals, you can’t fool it up, so you need to be smart.
“When your tired, and it’s hot, you draw on any kind of experience you have. I do know the course, and I feel like I flow over it a lot of times with the ups and downs, and it feels really good.”
McNeil, the Cape Bretoner with the 1980s-style mullet (his Twitter handle is Daniel McMullet), hoped to run faster than his 51:58 — he ran 51:11 last year — but was put to the test early on by Fewer.
“Colin put the boots to me pretty good early on, and he was in control from there,” said McNeil.
“There was never any question, from even the first mile.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be tough.’ I didn’t have the extra gear I was hoping to have.”
After running the Tely 10 for the first time in 2013, McNeil said he had planned to return to St. John’s again, and took with him his training partner, McCarron.
“The atmosphere here is second only to Boston (Marathon),” he said. “At least that’s what I compare it to when people ask me.
“You have people lining the course from start to finish, you see it all over the newspaper. It’s a big deal. It’s fun to be part of it.”