Running Inspiration: Ed Whitlock

Ed Whitlock @ the 2016 Toronto Marathon (

Inspiration abounds, you have only to look around.

There is nothing more disappointing or wasted than an unfulfilled dream or unrealized goal. Now imagine going through life not once allowing yourself the chance to see where “it” could have taken you; by “it” I mean that dream or goal that started as a little seed, planted by some per chance wind somewhere in the deep recesses of your psyche. I have a theory that many of us will never achieve our full or real potential, that fear and/or the lack of motivation and inspiration will be the chief deterrents to our success and happiness. However, that is another issue. Here we’ll focus on how, despite that theory, there are those who will go on to inspire, motivate and encourage others to greatness, even in spite of themselves, as was the case with Ed Whitlock, an older Canadian long distance runner and Master, who died in March.

The running world has indeed lost a great soldier and runner in Ed. Without much fanfare but with a lot of heart, he set about running, on and off over his lifetime, a simple life as he termed it – and incurred a host of records to his name and the history books in his latter years and leading up to his death. Over a course of about twenty years from ages 65 to 85 he acquired single-age world records for the 5K, half marathon, and marathon. What is particularly fascinating about Ed is that he never employed any expensive, extensive or intricate system or even had a secret to his success, he simply had a passion for running, was good at it, and had the ability. As far as he was concerned, he just ran and would argue against being called an inspiration by those of us who revered him. Simplicity and humility more than any specific training regimen seemed to be Ed’s modus operandi. I would argue that his investments, unlike so many current-day runners, never graduated to high-tech or inventive methods to improve efficiency or performance but stayed modest and relatively unchanged over the years. Old sneakers, a relatively normal diet, the average shorts and tank in good weather, slightly more for the colder temps, and a body fully engaged in continuous running motion at a steady pace were in essence his tools of trade. He went on to die of prostate cancer at the age of 86, a few months after running a sub 4:00 marathon time.

It would be a mistake if we did not take a step back and see what we can learn from Ed’s life and running ethic. If we want to honor his memory, we would do well to adopt at the very least his modesty and passion for what he believed in, his ability to defy convention and worldly standards. Ed proved once and for all that the only limits that exist are the ones we place on ourselves; that while we operate within the confines of life, we are solely responsible for our choices, attitudes and perspective. Ed chose to live his life each day limitless, ran when he could, as well as he could, where he could and he did it as long as he could. He did it his way.

Ed Whitlock @ Rotterdam Marathon
( The Canadian Press

Let running ‘Greats’ inspire your run

Camille Herron,  Guinness World Record, 2012 Women's Route 66 MarathonEvery child needs a hero, one who can either fly, is super fast, super strong or has some eye-boggling gift that defies human ability.  As  we grow older, that hero takes on different qualities and / or definition and plays a different, but no less important role in our aspirations and dreams. Who doesn’t love a good hero? Someone who does what we dream of, only better.  For runners, it’s no different. We derive inspiration from many of either our fellow greats or those who’ve gone before us and put their indelible stamp on running history.

Some of the greatest runners have used the running platform to raise awareness for causes, to speak out against various ills in society or to garner support for a personal dream or idea that has impacted the world.  Still, there are those who inspire us because of their determination and drive to overcome their physical, mental or psychological limitations.

Here are a few who inspire me.

83-year-old, Bob Dolphin and Lenore Dolphin are running proof that age is just a number. They are race directors of the Yakima River Canyon Marathon; Bob has completed more than 500 marathons while Lenore volunteers at most of these events.

Six year old, Keelan Glass, is a world record holder. With a time of 2:46:31, she is the youngest half-marathoner in the world.

Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston marathon in 1967. Amidst much controversy she finished and later went on to win the NYC marathon.

American Sprinter Allyson Felix, an Olympic gold and silver medalist, she fights against the physical inactivity epidemic.

Paula Radcliffe, world record holder for women’s marathon and mother, she has run while pregnant -training for the 2012 London marathon, and as a new mother.

Jason Smyth, a Paralympic runner, who was likened to Usain Bolt in the 2012 games. He is visually impaired with 10 percent vision because of an hereditary, degenerative eye condition and the fastest disabled runner of all-time.

There are many others such as Usain Bolt, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflegizhi among others who carry the running torch that advances the sport of running and inspire us to dream big, to never give up and to set our sights on making a difference doing what we love one step at a time. However, whomever and wherever they are, because of them the world is a better place and we salute them as we aspire to become an inspiration ourselves.

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