Posted on Nov 12

One Man's Quest to Slay a 40-Year Old Record

One Man's Quest to Slay a 40-Year Old Record

When Team New Balance’s Reid Coolsaet broke his collarbone in a June 2013 cycling accident, he confidently stated that it would not affect his athletic future and he remained focused on breaking the 38-year old Canadian marathon record. Despite major surgery to repair torn ligaments in his shoulder and to have a plate inserted onto his clavicle, the 34 year-old recovered exceptionally well and was back to full-time training just 5 weeks after his final operation. Since returning to the roads, Coolsaet has logged multiple weeks of upwards of 230km to build the stamina necessary to challenge the elusive Canadian marathon record. Strong wins at both the 2013 Canadian 10k Road Championships and the 2013 Niagara Falls ½ Marathon has convincingly allowed Coolsaet to retain his status as Canada’s top distance runner.

After dropping out of the 2013 Rotterdam Marathon with lingering flu symptoms and suffering from heat exhaustion in the 2012 Olympic Marathon, Coolsaet was acutely aware that race selection would be hugely important to his success. The collarbone injury unfortunately cut into the training time necessary to register for his preferred race, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, leaving him with few options in 2013. Knowing he would not be able to start alongside his friend and training partner Eric Gillis in Toronto and in front of a Canadian crowd was difficult for Coolsaet to come to terms with. Reid ran his personal best 2:10:55 in Toronto in 2011 and felt strongly that it could propel him under the 2:10 mark in 2013.

Fortunately, the choice for Reid and Speed River coach Dave Scott-Thomas was obvious. They circled December 1st on the calendar and booked their flights to Japan. It was agreed that Reid, who has 13 National Championships to his name, would return to the Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship, the same race in which he paced British marathoners Scott Overall and Andrew Lemoncello and American Ryan Vail in 2012.

“I love coming to Japan to compete because distance running is so important to the Japanese,” says Reid. “Both times I've raced the Chiba Ekiden I've had great experiences. It's always well organized, there is good competition and the fans appreciate the sport.”

He adds: “Last year I was planning on pacing 21km of the Fukuoka marathon at 2:11 pace. I was enjoying it so much that I paced all the way until 31km. Afterwards I knew that one day I would return to Fukuoka to compete in the marathon.”

The Fukuoka Marathon coincidently is the race where 38 years ago Canada’s Jerome Drayton set the current Canadian Marathon record of 2:10:08. His 1975 victory was the second of three wins in Japan and halted American Frank Shorter’s streak of Fukuoka championships at four.

On December 1st, Coolsaet will compete in the 67th running of this historic event wearing a New Balance Canada kit honouring the iconic look that defined Drayton’s incredible marathon career in the 1970s capped by a win in Boston in 1977. Reid will wear the 1400v2 .

The race will begin at 12:10pm local time (10:10pm Eastern Standard Time). Follow Reid’s career and travels on his blog at

Author: Dean Palmer Photo: Dean Palmer

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