Track and Field

Reid Coolsaet 7th in 'toughest marathon performance ever'

Reid Coolsaet shook off hip and hamstring discomfort he felt in training to finish seventh at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan on Sunday. His time of two hours 10 minutes 55 seconds was 46 seconds shy of Jerome Drayton's 41-year-old Canadian record.

Falls 46 seconds shy of Jerome Drayton's Canadian record at Fukuoka Marathon

Hamilton's Reid Coolsaet finished Sunday's Fukuoka Marathon in Japan in a time of two hours 10 minutes 55 seconds, just 46 seconds slower than Jerome Drayton's Canadian men's record of 2:10:09, set at the same event in 1975. (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images/File)

Reid Coolsaet shook off hip and hamstring discomfort he felt in training to finish seventh at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan on Sunday.

The Hamilton runner was on a Canadian record pace early on and ran much of the 42.2-kilometre race on his own, crossing the line in two hours 10 minutes 55 seconds, 46 seconds shy of Jerome Drayton's 2:10:09 national mark, set at the same event in 1975.

"I felt great right form the start of the race but not good enough to run with the 2:09:00 pace group," Coolsaet said. "Before two kilometres I was already running alone and decided to try to run 3:05 per kilometre on my own.

"After 35 kilometres I knew the record was slipping and I kept trying to run faster. But my calves were in bad shape and affecting my running and I couldn't get back down to record pace."

In 2013, the 37-year-old Coolsaet placed 6th at the Fukuoka Marathon in 2:11:24 and now owns three of the five times under 2:11:00 recorded by a Canadian.

He clocked a personal best 2:10:28 at the Berlin Marathon in September 2015 and ran 2:10:55 at the 2013 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

On Sunday, Coolsaet achieved his goal of a 1:05-1:06 split at the halfway mark, posting a time of 1:05:03.

"Reflecting on the race I feel it was my best performance ever, given that I had no help setting a pace," Coolsaet said.

Earlier this week, he was unsure of his chances to threaten Drayton's mark, telling CBC Sports: "I haven't had many indications in training that I'm ready for a PB."

But running his first marathon since finishing 23rd at the Rio Olympics, Coolsaet ran a smart and strong race in Japan, picking off people as he went.

In 2013, Coolsaet went out too hard at the Fukuoka race and was unable to maintain a 2:07 pace after the first 15 km, but still managed a top-10 finish.

After returning from Rio, the two-time Olympian realized the difficulty in running a marathon on a limited build-up and wanted to make sure he had a proper training block before committing to the Fukuoka event.

Hip, hamstring soreness

Coolsaet ran 200-plus km four out of six weeks after the Olympics and "felt good in October" before tapering his training to 155 km.

At times, Coolsaet was bothered by soreness in his hip, hamstring and psoas muscles — the primary connectors between the torso and legs — but it didn't prevent the father of one from running. Last spring, Coolsaet was hampered by an impinged nerve on the right side of his lower back that caused hamstring discomfort.

In early November, Coolsaet's speed returned after winning the mixed 10km race (29:40) at the Road2Hope marathon in Hamilton.

"I feel I need to break 2:10 relatively soon," he said, "or it will never happen."

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