That tall, lanky runner who cruises past on Calgary’s pathway system, his stride seemingly effortless, is going places.
Just not right now.
Trevor Hofbauer has already qualified to represent Canada in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, but the sporting spectacle has been postponed due to the global health crisis.
At this point, his upcoming race schedule is really just a list of question marks.
“I tried to be positive and optimistic when the pandemic first started to really hit North America, and probably a few weeks after the NHL and NBA seasons were postponed and then the Olympics was postponed, then it kind of hit me a lot harder,” Hofbauer said. “It became the reality that it wasn’t going to be as I hoped, so then I took my foot off the gas and kind of put training on the back-burner. I’m not training really with any structure right now but just trying to enjoy the sport for what it is. So it’s kind of a shift in focus.
“I run six days a week — I always take Mondays off — and over a six-day time period, I would normally run about 10 times. Now, I’m just running six times per week. Before, it was 11-12 hours of running per week, and now it’s just six hours. So cut in half, basically. And no intensity, no workouts, nothing really hard … Just getting out the door like everybody else and just enjoying it.”
This was supposed to be a big weekend for the local running community, from the fleet-of-foot to the slow-and-steady crowd.
The Scotiabank Marathon, with a series of races ranging from a 5-km fun to a 50-km ultra, was slated for Sunday. The event has instead gone virtual for 2020, with participants able to complete their distance on their own — on the route and surface of their choosing, and with no time limit — and still receive a cool commemorative shirt and finisher medal that features the Peace Bridge. (Registration for the virtual race remains open until Sept. 26, so you have all summer to get yours in.)
Hofbauer’s first road-race was the 10K on Calgary Marathon weekend — he was in junior-high then — and although he didn’t have his hometown event on his schedule this spring, he certainly knows all of the most scenic stomps, the fastest and flattest stretches and the most hellacious hills in this city.
The 28-year-old guesstimates he’s likely racked up 15,000 km on the various trails in Fish Creek Park and his footprints are all over Edworthy Park and Bowness Park, too.
“I think we’re lucky to have the pathway system that we do,” Hofbauer said. “It definitely made it more enjoyable for me than if I was anywhere else. And having travelled around a lot of North America and some of Europe and running on pathway systems over there and seeing some of those different sites, nothing has really stuck out like Fish Creek or Bowness Park. There are some really nice areas in the city and out in Bragg Creek that I personally enjoy more than a lot of places in the world.
“It’s definitely made the training more enjoyable for me. I don’t really know if I would really be the athlete who I am if I didn’t have that kind of space to do my thing.”
This summer, with the cauldron burning in Tokyo, he was supposed to be doing his thing on the biggest stage in sport.
Around now, Hofbauer would have been right in the thick of his 20-week training block for his Olympic moment.
The Calgary-raised speedster was intending to be in Ottawa last weekend for a crack at being crowned Canada’s 10-km champion, but that race was cancelled.
He isn’t particularly optimistic that any of the major marathons that were postponed until fall will go as planned.
“It doesn’t feel like there’s much to work for right now,” Hofbauer admitted. “For me, it’s my job. And for everybody else who has a job, I guess you could kind of see it the same way — it’s like going to work for free and not really have an opportunity to work for anything greater than just the work in itself.”
You can certainly understand the frustration, especially when you consider that Hofbauer laid out an ambitious five-year plan that would take him to Tokyo 2020 and was so close to that pinch-me moment.
For those who had the 2020 Scotiabank Calgary Marathon as the event that was circled on their calendar, the virtual race can still provide that motivation.
Maybe you’ll even spot Hofbauer on your next early-morning training run. Still qualified for the Summer Olympics, he is hoping this unexpected slow-down will be beneficial in the long-term.
“Thinking back, I guess for the last two years, I’ve really been building up to this point and I’ve really been invested into high performance,” Hofbauer said. “When your mind is in that zone, it’s burning pretty hot. So not only am I taking a break physically, but it’s also taking a break mentally. I guess with those two components, it is kind of tough to maintain that level of intensity for a long duration of time. So being able to take the foot off the gas right now, hopefully it allows me to recharge going into next year.”
RUN LIKE AN OLYMPIAN
We asked Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer, who will represent Canada at the Tokyo Olympics, to recommend potential routes for would-be virtual racers …
Marathon (42.2 km) : “If people are looking for a route that’s very similar to the Calgary Marathon route, going from Edworthy Park all the way down to Blackfoot Trail and then crossing Blackfoot Trail and coming back on the other side of the river, back to Edworthy Park and then you can kind of go up through Montgomery and through Bowness and head back to Edworthy. That would definitely get you to 42 km, however you mapped it out, and that’s basically the Calgary Marathon route, just on pathway.”
Half-marathon (21.1 km) : “A lot of these that I’ll suggest are basically on the Edworthy Park pathway, because it’s the easiest area to get your distance and it’s the flattest part of the city. And a lot of athletes that are training for this specifically, they want to optimize their performance and get flattest route to run the fastest time. From Edworthy Park to the zoo bridge and then back is right around 21 km, and that’s a really good loop. Or if somebody wants to do 21 km up at Nose Hill Park, you could probably do two loops along the top, along the pavement. It’s a little bit rolling, but you can definitely do the mileage.”
10-km : “I’m trying to think of different parts of the city … For a 10-km, maybe something hilly like the Bowmont Pathway in Bowness, or even Bowness Park and work your way through Bowness. That would be pretty cool.”
5-km : “How about North Glenmore Park? From the canoe club, you can go along the pathway to the top of Weaselhead. Don’t go down that big hill! You can either do it as an out-and-back, or you can do one way along the pathway and then jump onto the road to come back towards the canoe club. You could get 5 km there, and that’s a pretty one.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020