David Barlow

Photo: Matt Cecill.

David Barlow is “puzzled” that he was able to improve his 10K time by two minutes within a one-month span. Perhaps it’s the 30-pound pack he’s been carrying in training.

The 86-year-old Victoria resident, who is all the inspiration you need to get your daily training session in, completed the Oak Bay 10K on the weekend coming in ahead of more than 50 people, some less than half his age. The former civil engineer completed the 10K with his daughter Rosemary, an avid runner, in 1:15:22, an average pace of 7:33 per kilometre. He did the Times Colonist 10K, also with his daughter, in 1:17:24 at the end of April.

“It was a real puzzle, how does one get that much faster?” he asks pondering what the explanation may be. Perhaps, he says, it was the early wake-up call, 5:30 a.m. to be exact, on race day that allowed his pre-race meal, porridge and coffee, to have time to digest. Or maybe the recent habit of training with the aforementioned 30-pound pack helped. There were also fewer racers at the Oak Bay 10K than at his other races, which meant less weaving in and out of crowds.

Barlow, who turned 86 in January and lives at home with his wife, while some of his family resides in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, got into racing in 2014 at the TC10K and has raced the event for four consecutive years. The Oak Bay 10K on Sunday was his first time doing a race other than the TC10K. His 10K race PB is 1:14:14 from 2014.

Barlow swears by walking and carries only a stopwatch and a small handheld metronome, a device typically used by musicians that sounds at specific intervals, when out training. The metronome, set at “146 paces per minute,” keeps Barlow at a consistent rhythm.

“I’ve always been active but not competitive until these 10Ks,” he says. “I’m very happy. For older guys and gals, there’s a lot to be said by doing this sort of walking.” Barlow also notes that he’s still driving.

“She [Rosemary] got me into racing and told me ‘see how you do,'” he says. The English-born octogenarian who has lived in Canada for more than 50 years trains at least five times per week including “all through the winter.” He already has his eyes set on the TC10K in 2018 as he notes there are few opportunities to race again locally this year.

Because of the staggered starts of the 10K and half-marathon on race day, Barlow finished amongst others who were doing the longer of the race’s two distances. Barlow, who trains by himself, says he always trains in the same area: Clover Point Park, which borders the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and along the waterfront in south Victoria.

When asked whether he feels any-post race effects, he says “I’m not sore at all.”


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