Blog Update: the road to London finally came to an end and ran into a wall. My race report from Olympic marathon

By August 22, 2012Featured, News

I just returned to Canada two days ago after a week of touring around England with family and friends.

Simply put, the Olympic marathon was the most incredible racing experience of my life. The best marathon runners in the world, the loudest crowds I have ever heard, a challenging course and conditions. There was nothing ordinary about this.
I ended up 20th in a time of 2:15:26. I have had a lot of people tell me I should be very happy with that result. But to be honest it doesn’t sit quite right at the moment. I feel like there was another minute or so and 3 or 4 more places higher in me. But, I’m sure with more time to reflect I’ll be content. Or, maybe I won’t. Either way I’m hungry for more. Hopefully with a few more years experience and a more ideal buildup I can find myself in a position to aim for top 10 in Rio.
The reality that this race was going to be a true summer championship marathon — with warm temps — only really hit me in the few days before the race. I think there was a lot of wishful thinking in the months and weeks leading up to the Games that conditions would be good for marathoning. Many people talked about Drayton’s record going down. I personally never had that in my sights and on the day only 3 men bettered 2:10. Once my coach and I realized it was going to be at least 20C on race day my game plan came together — be conservative and try to run through the field in the second half. We figured 2:14 would place very well (15th place as it turns out)  so that was the target.
I ran my race; letting people go in the first 10k and finding my own rhythm through the twists and turns, different footing, and crazy crowds. There was a few times I wanted to chase down a group in front of me, but I kept an eye on my splits and tried to hold back to 5:05/mile. By the end of the first big loop I started passing some guys. Halfway was 1:06:3? – exactly what we had planned. But even at that point I knew the race was going to be a real grind. It was HOT! I poured full bottles of water on myself at numerous times to stay cool and drank far more sports drink and water than in any previous marathon.
I continued to roll through the 2nd big loop. Reid and I ran together from 17-20miles and were picking guys off. But around 20miles — the 3rd time through the twisty-turny part of the loop I stalled out a bit. I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it to the finish if I kept pushing as hard as I had been to pass people.
I was passed by Michael Shelley of Australia with about 4 miles to go. I think he was the only guy to pass me that I didnt pass back in the entire race. I knew latching on to him was my opportunity to run that perfect race. But he was too tough (he put over a minute into me in the last 4 miles and finished 16th).
The last 2-3 miles were miserable; I was exhausted, overheating, depleted, basically I just wanted to stop. I moved into 19th with about 2km to go when the guy ahead of me stopped to pick up his watch (yes I thought I was seeing things)! But, he passed me back about 400m later and held me off to the line. I wish I had a little more fight in me and at least snuck into 19th. But, alas it is what it is.
Congrats to my teammates: Eric (22nd) and Reid(27th). They’re both amazing marathoners and it was exciting to put on the Canada singlet with them and line up together. Eric ran a smart race and really came on strong the last 10km. Reid had some issues with keeping his sports drinks down and suffered a bit the last 10km because of that. If the race was scored as a team event, like cross country, we would’ve finished 3rd behind Kenya and Brazil. I think all three of us are proud of that stat.
So, that’s that. I’m an Olympian. Do I feel much different? No. Do I sleep any better at night? No. But, a dream come true. Now onto the next thing. I’m not sure what exactly that is yet, but I’ll give it some time.
Thanks to everyone for their support on this Journey. I feel very lucky to know so many people are behind me 100%
My placing at the intermediate splits are pretty cool to look at. Guess I did move up pretty well:
5k – 71st
10k – 70th
15k – 61st
20k – 52nd
25k – 38th
30k- 31st
35k – 25th
40k – 20th

7 Comments

  • Joanne Gunning says:

    Great report.
    It sounds like you and your coach planned your race…and then you raced your plan. Excellent execution!
    Emily Tallen’s husband Matt took a couple great pics of you on the course…I expect you’ve seen them.
    I was in Ottawa last week and chatting with a runner who was there on the course cheering. She said it was hot!! Other spectators around her (obviously not runners…lol) were commenting on what a beautiful day it was and she kept saying…”maybe for spectators…but not for the racers”!

  • DanWay says:

    This is the most humble, honest and honorable race report/recap I have ever read. You are truly a Canadian champion and an inspiring Olympian. Looking forward to seeing what more you will do.

  • hi dylan,

    we were watching for you. it was amazing to see you kickin’ it, at the games. my son che (who you met at the K brew pub) was cheering you on and inspired by your achievements. keep up the solid work.

  • Felix Lafontant says:

    I know I am barely considered a runner compared to you, but I think this was suppose to happen this way. If we could decide when we could have our best races and be in perfect shape, it would remove the whole point of doing it. If you would have done your best that day, you probably wouldn’t feel so angry and reflect at what you did wrong. If there is anything I know, is that anger, all the thinking you will do will make you push yourself a lot harder now than if you would have gotten 10th place, or 5th place. This will hopefully be the motivation that will make you destroy in Rio and and push your limits getting there.

  • Shirley Myers says:

    Congratulations Dylan! You are amazing!

  • It was a great race in tough conditions. I was also following you guys on my ipad and could see your split at every 5km. You were moving up in the pack and with the crowd lifting your spirit, it must have been an incredible feeling. I saw you cross the finish line and it is evident that you gave it your all, and on this day as a team you put CANADA on the map as a marathon nation. Good luck in your future races.
    PS- I was super happy for you when you were able to qualify in Rotterdam and get your ticket for London….that in itself was a great accomplishment. Knowing that you were the first Canadians to take part in the Olympic Marathon since the year 2000 speaks volume and you should also take that into account when to reflect on it. Past success can only lead to future success!! GO Dylan! Congrates also on your win at the California International Marathon, continuing a tradition where several Canadians were able to claim victory!

  • neil hopkins says:

    Loved the race, sad when the feed cutoff before finish. My son Reid was cheering for his namesake, but now whenever they run around you are the number 1 guy…unless you raced Usain Bolt. You told them to dream big…we are proud that you did. See you in K-town sometime
    Neil