Track and Field

Reid Coolsaet's season-ending marathon 'icing on the cake'

Coming within 46 seconds of the Canadian men's marathon record at Sunday's Fukuoka Marathon in Japan will serve as motivation for Hamilton runner Reid Coolsaet in 2017. "I did surprise myself with how good I felt through most of the race."

7th-place finish in Japan bright spot in Olympian's letdown season

Finishing seventh in Sunday's Fukuoka Marathon and only 46 seconds behind Jerome Drayton's Canadian record will serve as inspiration for Reid Coolsaet in 2017. "It was great to have another race where I feel I could have challenged for the record had a few things went in my favour." (Jason Ransom/Canadian Press/File)

It was a near-flawless start to Reid Coolsaet's final marathon of the season.

He ran at Jerome Drayton's Canadian record pace for much of Sunday's 42.2-kilometre Fukuoka Marathon, maintained focus despite the challenge of running solo and showed no effects of the hip and hamstring soreness that bothered him in training.

And then his calves began to tighten.

Unable to hold the pace, a legitimate shot to shatter Drayton's 41-year-old record of two hours 10 minutes nine seconds was no longer a reality for Coolsaet, whose focus shifted to his personal best of 2:10:28.

"I managed to stay motivated even after the record was out of sight by passing other runners," the 37-year-old Hamilton runner said in an email from Japan after finishing seventh in 2:10:55. "It was great to have another race where I feel I could have challenged for the record."

The Fukuoka event, where Drayton established the national mark in 1975, marked the sixth time Coolsaet has been within 75 seconds of the record.

Coolsaet said he surprised himself how good he felt through most of the race in Kyushu, where the temperature hovered around 15 C for the midday event contested in a light rain with light wind and a bit of humidity.

The two-time Olympian said it was the toughest of his 12 career marathons, in terms of having to push himself.

"In other races I've been able to shut off and follow a pacer or other racers," said Coolsaet, who finished 23rd in the marathon at the Rio Olympics in August. "This time, I had to focus the entire way and had to do all the heavy work."

Coolsaet ran with others most of the way when he clocked a PB at the Berlin Marathon in September 2015 and ran 2:10:55 at the 2013 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Sunday's race also had a different feel as it was the first for Coolsaet since the birth of his son Louis a little more than two months ago.

"[My wife] Marie and Louis are big inspirations," said Coolsaet, who has yet to finalize any races for 2017. "I feel that if I'm going to leave them to go all the way to Japan, I might as well make it worth it by running as hard as I can."

It was an eventful 2016 for Coolsaet, starting with an impinged nerve in his lower back, to having his Rio training disrupted by injury, to getting married, qualifying for the Olympics, to not receiving $18,000 in funding from Athletics Canada for the 2016-17 season, Louis' arrival, more injury issues and the Fukuoka Marathon.

"It was an amazing year as far as starting a family," Coolsaet said, 'but until Fukuoka it was a letdown athletically.

"To end 2016 with one of my best marathon times ever is icing on the cake."

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