FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
'Coolsaet Close to Olympic Berth'
by Paul Gains
Reid Coolsaet never imagined he'd be on the brink of an Olympic Games berth
when he ran cross country for Hamilton's Westdale Secondary School back two
A mediocre athlete, whose goal was nothing more than joining his girlfriend
in qualifying for the provincial high school cross country championships,
Coolsaet finished 18th in the 1997 race. In the absence of scholarship
offers he joined coach Dave Scott-Thomas at the University of Guelph. The
partnership has certainly paid off.
A year ago he dipped under Athletics Canada's Olympic qualifying standard
with a time of 2:11:23 to finish 10th in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront
Marathon. At this point he is the only Canadian to have achieved the
standard but there's a catch. The IAAF announced after the race the
qualifying period wouldn't start to January 2011.
Now all he needs is a strong effort at this year's Toronto race October
16th - anything under the IAAF standard of 2:15 will do - to earn his
place at the London 2012 Olympics. And, he must ensure he is amongst the
first three Canadians capable of achieving the standard. The competition
for the three Olympic spots with Simon Bairu, Dylan Wykes and his Speed
River Track Club teammates Eric Gillis and Rob Watson is something he
"It definitely motivates me and keeps me on top of it because I have goals
to run faster this fall," he reveals, "I want to improve upon 2:11:23 like
anybody would want to get a p.b. But having guys to keep me in check
definitely raises the bar a little bit and gives me incentive and
With the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfrot Marathon scheduled three weeks later
than in previous years Coolsaet is in the midst of a fourteen week block of
training which has seen him put in 210 kilometres a week. It hasn't all
been smooth sailing though.
In July as he began the buildup for Toronto he caught a cold, experienced a
flare up in a shin problem then had to have a broken tooth extracted. A
course of antibiotics also wore him down. Now he says training is going
well. He drives up to Guelph twice a week to run with Gillis and Watson.
The remainder of the time he runs alone near his parents' home in Hamilton
or with Kenyans Josephat Ongeri and David Karanja who are also Hamilton
Despite Coolsaet's success last year he admits his decision to run in
Toronto was by no means automatic. He was expecting to go for a faster time
at the London marathon last spring but he stepped on a rock during a
training run last fall and the resulting injury caused a lengthy
interruption. Last March he went through with a month of high altitude
training in Kenya although he spent the first weeks running alone until he
could get fit enough to join the Kenyans. Nevertheless the experience was
enough for him to plan a return trip.
Coolsaet also considered running at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu,
Korea (the men's marathon is scheduled for September 4th) but decided
against it because of the expected heat and humidity. He does have
experience in hot weather championships having represented Canada in the
2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin where he ran a then personal best
of 2:16:53 for 25th place. All things considered he believes the decision
to run in Toronto was his best option.
"Its really nice to run a marathon where people are cheering for you and
you hear your name and you don't have to travel far," he explains. "The big
advantage for us in Toronto is that (race director) Alan (Brookes) will
cater to our pace and he'll listen to how fast we want to run and provide
rabbits at that pace. If we went to another North American marathon we
probably wouldn't get that sort of attention from that marathon.
"If we went to New York or Chicago we would probably be asking other people
what they were doing and trying to figure out what pacemakers to go with
versus here where, if you want to run 2:09:45, you can get someone running
Coolsaet is not one who is easily distracted from his goals. Minor injuries
that would send other straight to the tipping point are glossed over. He
cycles or swims when necessary and gets his physiotherapy between workouts.
Indeed, his good nature has come in handy during a career that has seen him
win nine Canadian titles from 5,000m to the marathon - including, most
impressively, the 2009 marathon and 10000m championships with six weeks
between them. Sometimes he has been involved in practical jokes.
As a student he walked in to the University of Guelph athletics centre to
discover a Hall of Fame portrait of him had been doctored to enhance the
size of his ears, lips and nose then hung back on the wall. Hundreds of
students writing exams in the centre enjoyed a laugh at his expense. But
Coolsaet says it goes with the territory.
"It was actually in retaliation for a joke I had played," he says laughing.
" A girl had left her number on my roommate's desk. I called her and
pretended to be him. So she approached him in class the next day thinking
she had talked to him. It was a really awkward conversation. At that point
he got me back."
On another occasion he passed through customs with an electronic device
which gave unwitting victims a shock when they shook hands with him.
Fortunately the customs agent had a sense of humour and he wasn't arrested.
When he lines up in Toronto the Olympic qualifying will be first and
foremost in his mind. Achieving a personal best is also a goal. And he is
fully aware that Scotiabank and Alan Brookes, in their unlimited attempts
to raise the standard of Canadian marathoning, have put up $36,000 in bonus
money ($1,000 for every year) for any Canadian who can break Jerome
Drayton's longstanding national record of 2:10:09.
"Obviously we are trying to make a living out of the sport and that would
be a huge pay day for a Canadian marathon," he admits, "But it's not
something I think about. As much as I want to run fast you can't focus on
it. So it's definitely an added bonus but it's not a day to day thing I
"I actually don't have a time goal this time. Last time I trained for a
marathon I had a time goal in my head but as my training progressed it kept
on changing. I don't think you can force your thresholds to get down there
so much. I am going to try and maximise my training. Last year I went into
marathon training thinking sub 2:13 then on race day I wanted to run 2:10.
I really thought I was going to run 2:10 high. Obviously I missed it. So I
would like to say I can run a 2:10 flat. Maybe it goes down. Maybe I feel
like going for a 2:10 high again."
On his schedule is the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach,
Virginia on September 4th. A victory in the Acura Toronto 10 mile race
(August 14th) in 48:34 is a good indication he is ready. These two races
will give him a better idea of his fitness level. Then he will advise Alan
Brookes of the pace he'd like a pacemaker to take him along the streets of
Coolsaet is in the enviable position of having satisfied Athletics Canada's
high performance standard. But he can't afford to run a mediocre race on
October 16th. With an Olympic Games place on the line the stakes are just