The Canadian running scene will see the return of a familiar face on Dec. 6 as Dylan Wykes targets the Canadian Olympic marathon standard at the Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship. Wykes has not completed a marathon since the 2012 London Olympics.
The Kingston, Ont. native has been battling injuries, including stress fractures in his ankle and pelvic bone, for the better part of three years, but the third fastest Canadian marathoner of all-time has high expectations heading into Fukuoka. The Canadian marathon record of 2:10:09 held by Jerome Drayton was set in Fukuoka in 1975.
Highlighting the field are current marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto, former world record holder Patrick Makau, as well as a number of high-profile Japanese athletes. The race features 14 marathoners with lifetime bests faster than 2:10:00.
The Canadian Olympic standard for the men’s marathon is 2:12:50, with Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis having already run those marks this fall. Wykes ran 2:10:47 when he qualified for the Olympics in 2012.
Canadian Running: Fukuoka will be your first marathon in more than three years. Why Fukuoka?
Dylan Wykes: The combination of training and timing were big factors. Berlin was too early and didn’t coincide with my fitness while Fukuoka fits well into my schedule. Fukuoka has a deep field and Canadians have run very well there in the past. I wouldn’t be competing if I wasn’t ready for a big race–the goal is to run the Olympic qualifying standard.
CR: You’ve had to battle a number of injuries since the 2012 London Olympics but are in the midst of a great stretch in Flagstaff, Ariz. Why do things work so well there?
DW: Prior to the Rotterdam Marathon and London Olympics in 2012 I had extended training stints in Arizona. Originally the plan was to stay for two months but after the decision was made to run Fukuoka I decided to extend my stay until about 10 days out from the race. The altitude and the environment are great and it treats the family well.
CR: Last month you wrote a blog post about the importance of family and how it’s given you perspective on running. How have things changed now that you’re a father?
DW: It definitely makes you realize that there are important things in life outside of running. I used to be much more stringent with scheduling whereas now I continue to train at a high level but need to be flexible in my training. Whether it’s pushing a workout to later in the week or cutting out a run altogether, I need to have that flexibility.
CR: You have your own coaching service, Mile2Marathon, with acclaimed cyclist Mike Woods. Were you able to draw inspiration from your athletes, especially when you were in the midst of an injury?
DW: Coaching has given me a secondary focus which served me well when I was deep into injury problems. I was able to help others enjoy running and with that focus in mind I was able to relieve the stress associated with being sidelined for a lengthy period of time.
CR: One way you’ve stayed injury-free this past season has been the addition of strengthening exercises. From beginners to elites, is this an area that’s often neglected?
DW: Definitely. To put it into perspective: I used to be able to go for off-day runs without any sort of extended warm up. Now I’m spending 40 to 45 minutes warming up before I’m able to head out the door and do a workout. Adding those extracurriculars has its benefits and regardless of what level you’re at, the more time you’re able to dedicate to taking care of your body, the more consistent you can be.
The Canadian Olympic qualifying window for the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio will remain open until May 29, 2016.
Little hike in Sedona. pic.twitter.com/YfjKxuCl0X
— Dylan Wykes (@DylanWykes) September 16, 2015