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The Runner's Web talks to Ed Whitlock

Posted by: pshields on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 04:57 AM Print article Printer-friendly page  Email to a friend

The Runner's Web talks to Ed Whitlock

The first sub 3 hour 70+ marathoner

Posted: October 1, 2003

Introduction: On Sunday at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 72 year-old Ed Whitlock became the first marathoner in the 70+ category to break 3 hours as he ran to a 2:59:10 performance. The Runner's Web caught up with Ed - via the internet - this week to capture his feelings about this performance and his long running career.

Name: Ed Whitlock: 

Born: Date: 6 March 1931 

City/Country: Suburbs of London(ENG) 

Current Residence: Milton ON 

Current Track Club: Milton Runners

Runner's Web (RW): First of all, congratulations on your fine performance in Toronto. Could you comment on how you felt going into the race and during the event itself. Were you focused on breaking the 3 hour mark or were your plans just to run your best race? How significant an achievement is it in your mind?

Ed Whitlock (EW): Main focus, maybe the only focus was 3 hours A week before the race I was reasonably confident that I would have a shot at it if the weather was conducive, but 5 days before the race I fell over going to the store. I broke my fall with my face. It was covered with abrasions and bruises, plus two black eyes and a swollen nose That did nothing for my confidence and appearance, but otherwise I was OK. On starting I was not that comfortable and over first 6 k I was slower than my target pace of 4:14/k and even slower than 3 hour pace. Then things seemed to turn around and over the next 11 kilos I managed to get up to 2 minutes under 3 hour pace which I held until about 40k. I dropped a minute over the last 2k+. I had a particularly bad time over the last 0.5k. I was greatly relieved when I could finally read the finish clock and realise that I had enough time left to stay under 3 hours. I was fortunate to have almost ideal weather conditions and I was also fortunate that a group of about 5 runners (Mike Bedley, Chris Gilligan, Arandi Bezarra, Dennis Sacks and Murray Cholod) and I coalesced a little past half way for mutual help to get under 3 hours. One thing is that I am the first 70 year old to do it, the record may be beaten but not the first part

RW: Toronto has received a lot of press as being "non-friendly" towards the marathon. What is your opinion on this point? How receptive did you find Toronto around the race?

EW: As far as I can tell it was not a problem on Sunday. This course causes the minimum of traffic problems unless you ran it in a park. I know in some races I have run in the past in Toronto there has been motorist rage. I think that virtually 100% of the population in New York and Boston know when their marathon is on, it all comes as a surprise in Toronto because running gets little coverage except for drug scandals. Actually there was more media coverage this year because they latched onto the Fauja story.

RW: Let's take a walk back in time. When and where did you start running and what motivated you to do so?

EW: I started at high school in England, mainly cross country, I was quite good until I was about 15 when I put on a spurt and became one of the premier junior runners in the London area. When I came to Canada on leaving University in 1952 I stopped running. Not much doing in Northern Ontario in those days.

RW: How have you stayed motivated to continue running through all these years? Do you find it just as easy or more difficult to maintain your training and racing schedule then 10-20 years ago?

EW: Started again when just over 40 while living in the Montreal area when I got involved with a track club. Concentrated on middle distances. Best times 1:59.9 and 4:02.5

RW: What would an average week of training look like now and how does it differ from what you did 10-20 years ago?

EW: When in Montreal a fair amount of road work, but the serious stuff was track interval work outs under coaching supervision. I have now practically given up track work outs because it aggravates my Achilles tendon. So I have converted myself into a longer distance runner. My training is now without coaching and consists of daily long runs, typically 2 hours I don't measure the distance and purposely keep the speed down. I don't have any streak going but try to run every day no hard easy day routine. I do the odd semi "speed" work out, but not on the track. I race frequently to give me speed and to make me race tough.

RW: Do you train indoors during the winter? If so could you describe the type of indoor training you do?

EW: Just outdoors

RW: Who is the person who has had the greatest influence on your running?

EW: Me!

RW: Do you train by yourself or as part of a club or group?

EW: By myself

RW: What is next on your racing schedule?

EW: I have a number of road races this fall but I'm approaching them on a low key basis

RW: Do you have any more specific performance goals?

EW: Not at the moment

RW: What is the most serious running injury you have suffered?

EW: Achilles tendon at University and later in my 40s. Off for a year with plantar faciitis in my late 50's. Off for a year age 70 - 71, a knee problem of uncertain exact diagnosis

RW: Do you have any good training advice - in terms of staying injury-free and motivated - for someone looking to have a long running career?

EW: I think everyone has to find their own formula, one size does not fit all

RW: What is your feeling in regards to government support (or lack thereof) for athletics in Canada?

EW: Ambivalent. Ideally one should be independent. I still like to believe that running should be a pastime and not a career. I do however think that the amount of money spent on drug testing by the government is obscene in comparison to the support given to athletes.

RW: Last Comments: [Any thing you would like to say not already covered]

EW: Typing is not my thing! Running should be enjoyable.


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