Hamilton Olympian on long road to London

Marathon runner Reid Coolsaet stars in a new documentary that's set to premiere July 21.

Reid Coolsaet stars in new documentary set to premiere July 21

Marathon runner Reid Coolsaet is set to represent Canada in the 2012 Olympic Games. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Olympic athlete Reid Coolsaet doesn't exercise like you or me.

"I only ran 14 k this morning," Coolsaet says, deadpan. "I'll do 16 this afternoon. It's a light day."

His light day would send many others to bed for a week.  Or leave them gasping for air on the side of a road.

But Coolsaet will be competing in the 42.2 kilometre Olympic marathon, and gunning to do it in less than two hours, 10 minutes — a world-class time.

"I'm just really excited for it," he said. "I'm ready to break out on a new level, and to do it on a big stage, with all the best runners in the world."

The Hamilton native has been gearing up for London for years — but he hasn't been alone.

His neighbour, filmmaker Paul Trebilcock, has spent the last year and a half right there beside him, camera in hand.

Filmmaker Paul Trebilcock runs on Sundays with his neighbour, Coolsaet. "He's just going his average pace. For me, it's a quick 20 k,” he says. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The two met about two years ago. Originally, Trebilcock planned to do a few short videos about Coolsaet's Olympic run.

But that blossomed into a full documentary called Road to London: Reid Coolsaet.

"Once we started rolling, I got totally consumed with it," Trebilcock said.

The film chronicles Coolsaet's ramp-up to the Olympic games, taking viewers to Kenya, Arizona and other exotic locales.

"I've followed him in almost every race he's been in in the last year and a half," Trebilcock said.

"Now to think about the finish, the culmination of all this…it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."

Coolsaet has been lucky in that the video is mostly full of highs — he's had very few setbacks over the last couple of years. Still, marathons can be brutal even for a seasoned runner, he said. Especially the last leg of the race.

"After 25 k it becomes a bit of a grind," he said. "Then the real pain starts to set in around the last five k."

"Every marathon is different, and it could come at a different time, but when it does….it hurts a lot."

But when asked, Coolsaet said you can't describe the pain that rips through your body when running a marathon to the average person.

"It's like trying to describe colour to a blind person," he said. "Unless you experience it, you just don't know."

Road to London: Reid Coolsaet debuts at the Westdale Theatre at 2 p.m. on July 21. It will then show later that night on the cross-country course at the University of Guelph.