FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alan Brookes
416 464 7437
RE-MATCH OF THE AGELESS TITANS:
Ed Whitlock vs. Joop Ruter confirmed for
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, September 25th.
TORONTO. July 25th.
Race director Alan Brookes confirmed today that the celebrated re-match of
septuagenarians Ed Whitlock [Canada] and Joop Ruter [Holland] is definitely
"on" for September 25th at the flat, fast, 6th Annual Scotiabank Toronto
Whitlock surprised the world on September 28th, 2003 when he ran 2:59:10 at
Toronto Waterfront, aged 72, to become the first 70+ athlete on the planet
to break the magic 3-hour barrier. He astounded everyone when he came back
last September to clock 2:54:49 at age 73. Since then, in the words of Marc
Bloom of the NY Times, he has deservedly "been heralded like an Olympic
His story has become known internationally. It is that of a modest,
unassuming, shy, retired Canadian mining engineer who after success running
as a young man in the UK, took a 30 year hiatus, before returning to the
sport in his later years, and with a vengeance after retirement. He has no
coach, manager or agent, and has eschewed any kind of commercial
endorsement. He runs 3 hours every morning around the same local cemetery
in Milton [a western suburb of Toronto], snow, rain or shine, and describes
it as "peaceful."
A world apart, in Holland, 71 year old Joop Ruter heard of Whitlock's 2:59,
and decided in the Spring of 2004 to take a crack at it. At the Rotterdam
Marathon that April, he was on pace to break the record until around 35k,
when he started to cramp, and came home in 3:02:45.
Like Whitlock, Ruter turned to running in later life, starting in 1985,
when he lost his job as a butcher in Rotterdam and was unable "to find a
proper job anywhere." His sons then encouraged him to start running.
This, however, is where the similarities end. Ruter immediately joined a
major athletics club in Rotterdam, started training six days a week, with
formal workout sessions, coaching and regular massages. In his first year,
he ran a 3:19 marathon.
When he was 56 he ran a 1:14 half marathon; and at the World Masters
Championships in Finland, he won a gold medal at 5,000m (16.40). In Holland
he became known as "the fastest grandfather in the world." Following his
3:02, the effervescent and outgoing Ruter "went celebrating with his
neighbourhood (Crooswijk, Rotterdam) and drank a few beers and danced a
Hearing of Ruter’s 3:02, Brookes contacted Rotterdam Marathon, and a
head-to-head "Challenge Match" was arranged for April 10th, this Spring, in
It was the perfect match: the quiet Canadian versus the bold and confident
"Flying Dutchman": "I'm going to give Whitlock the race of his life," Ruter
On a cool, showery morning Whitlock went out hard—4 minutes for the first
kilometre, and it was all over by 5k. Whitlock was greeted by Rotterdam’s
mayor, and bouquet's of flowers as he crossed the line in 2:58:40 [almost
as much fanfare as greeted race winner Jimmy Mundi for his 2:07]. Ruter
eventually came home in 3:12:22, well and truly dusted, but unbowed.
Since then, Ruter has trained hard. Whitlock has continued his cemetery
runs, but says, "I'm not as fit as last year." He recently ran the Nissan
Foundation 5K in Toronto in an impressive 19:06. But that was a race he did
in 18:22 last summer. Will time catch up to the ageless Canadian, now 74,
against his younger 72-year-old rival?
The stage is now set for the re-match. According to Brookes, "of course
we're hoping Ed wins, as hometown favourite. But we'd be most thrilled if
both guys could get under 3 hours. That would truly be a day for the ages!"
Runners of all ages are invited to run with Ed and Joop on September 25th.
If you're not ready for the full 42k, come join John "The Penguin" Bingham
and 6,000 others in our Half-marathon and be finished in time to cheer Ed
and Joop across the line.
Registration is still possible at www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com
And Air Canada has a major seat sale on for North American runners:
Canadians must book by July 26th, runners from US cities by August 2nd,
good for travel through September 30th. www.aircanada.com [eg. Boston or
NYC LaGuardia or Washington National, US$202 return; Chicago US$280;
Houston US$ 290; Miami US$334].