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Three-time defending champion and 11-time winner believes he can finish race in under 49 minutes
Colin Fewer has won The Telegram 10-Mile Road Race 11 times, more than any runner in the 91 years the Tely 10 has been on the go.
Included in that stretch was a — pardon the pun — run of seven straight summers in which he was first across the Bannerman Road finish line.
And there’s that little note telling us that of the 25 fastest times ever recorded, Fewer owns seven of them (considering Paul McCloy has four, it’s safe to say Fewer’s, ahem, running with a pretty good crowd).
Ah yes, the times.
When it comes right down to it, it’s the minutes and seconds that really matters to those who will be toeing the start line Sunday morning (or at least those who are running to actually compete, versus those who are running just to say they did it.).
For Fewer, whose first Tely came 18 years ago (he’s missed only one race since then because of hip surgery), it’s the elusive quest for the personal best time from Octagon Pond in Paradise to the Bannerman Park swimming pool/ball field that keeps him coming back year after year, through the injuries and bad weather and other disappointments he’s met along the way.
“I’m chasing personal best times that I still feel I’m very close to attaining,” Fewer said this week. “We’re talking seconds here.
“How do you describe it? You put in all this time, you invest all this time into something to which you’re so close, and it’s right at your fingertips … I can’t just walk away from having my fingers on the door, ready to turn the handle when I’ve put all this time and effort.”
Fewer’s fastest time on the course was a 49 minutes and 41 seconds showing two years ago, the sixth-quickest showing ever.
McCloy has three faster times — including the incredible record of 47:04 set back in 1985 — and Toronto’s Matt Loiselle, a former national team athletics star, had clocked the other two faster times than Fewer.
Like the annual Regatta, weather always plays a role in the Tely 10. Last year, runners were dropping like flies on a terribly humid Sunday morning. Of all the competitive runners, only female winner Jennifer Murrin was able to establish a personal best time, and she paid for it at the end.
“How do you describe it? You put in all this time, you invest all this time into something to which you’re so close, and it’s right at your fingertips … I can’t just walk away from having my fingers on the door, ready to turn the handle when I’ve put all this time and effort.” — Colin Fewer
Then there’s plethora of injuries Fewer’s suffered, from pulled muscles to foot problems.
It’s all part of the hand you’re dealt, he says.
But it’s the knowing that if everything comes together, he says, he can get under 49 minutes, something that only McCloy and Loiselle have ever managed to accomplish.
“I would say I could hit a 48-minute Tely,” he says. “I think in the past few years, that’s been within my grasp. It’s so close. I know it’s there. Everything sort of comes together, and then it doesn’t, if you know what I mean.
“It’s why 2017 was so frustrating. Through 10.5K, I was all over 48 minutes and then my calf cramped up and left me reeling for the last 6K.
“It was my personal best, but on the inside I was pretty disappointed. I knew it (the time) was there, it was the perfect morning weather-wise. Everything was lining up for me. The stars were almost aligned and then all of a sudden …”
While he hasn’t raced locally — he won his only event, the Boston Pizza Flat Out 5K in April — Fewer has been otherwise busy this running season.
In the New Year, Fewer — who turned 42 this month — was the top masters (40-plus) runner in the half-marathon event at the Houston Marathon.
Then, in Victoria, B.C., he was fourth overall in the Times Colonist 10K, and was 15th overall — and the ninth Canadian — in a field of 6,978 at the Ottawa Race Weekend 10K event.
“If anything,” he said, “I’ve proven to myself at 42 I can still run pretty darn fast.”
Fewer also ran the 10,000 metres in the Portland Track Festival in Oregon, finishing in just under 31 minutes in his first track event since the 1997 Canada Summer Games in Brandon, Man.
He’d hoped to run sub-30 minutes.
“I was pretty disappointed in that race,” he said.
On Sunday, Fewer looks to make it four straight Tely championships, and five in the past six years (Loiselle won in 2015).
If he does win, that will be a dozen Tely 10 championships in the past 15 years.