Here at Canadian Running, we’ve started a new series, entitled ‘The Moment That Changed Everything.’ In these stories, we take an in-depth look at a momentous race, event, or happening in the career of a runner that has helped shape them into the athlete they are today. (Last week, we chatted with Charles Philibert-Thiboutot.)
Rio Olympian Luc Bruchet stars in this week’s feature. The 2017 Canadian cross-country champion and member of the BC Endurance Project (BCEP) takes us back to the momentous mile of the 2014 University of Washington Invitational, in which he announced his arrival on the professional running scene in grand fashion by beating out a few notable track superstars.
As told to Alex Cyr
“I’ve always wanted to be an Olympian – it was my dream. As I got older and better, I became increasingly capable of gaining perspective on what it took to make it. In early 2014, this dream became a goal.
“I won the Canadian Cross-Country Championship for the first time (in fall 2013), and followed that up with a solid performance in the 3,000m at the University of Washington Indoor Preview in January, my first professional meet. I was running well, and building confidence. But, my real coming out party came two weeks after that.
“It was the University of Washington Indoor Open, and I broke four minutes in the mile for the first time, running 3:57. I won the race, and beat (U.S. Olympian and steeplechase record holder) Evan Jager, and (American mile record holder) Alan Webb.
“I was nervous before the race. Though I was confident in my ability to run well, I was apprehensive about the level of competition I was to face. Seeing guys like Evan Jager line up next to me made me anxious. These men were real professionals – they were part of professional training groups, and were paid strictly to run. Just seeing them warm up and how they carried themselves in the race would be an experience for me.
“As the gun went off, I was dialed in. I don’t know where it came from, but a burst of confidence overcame me. I passed the pacer with 800m to go, and pushed at the front. My coach was cheering me on throughout the race, and I remember (2:13 marathoner) Rob Watson screaming at me in the latter stages, helping me get to the line. I ran a big PB.
“My parents and my brother were at the stadium watching the race. My dad did not really know much about track back then, but he knew that breaking the 4:00 mile was impressive, and that it had only been broken by a human for the first time 60 years ago. The conversations about making the Olympics that I would have with my dad changed that day. They went from me telling him that it was my goal, to us acknowledging it as much more of a likely possibility.
“Beating high-end professional runners changed everything for me. Since that race, my confidence has increased, and now I believe that I can compete in strong fields on any day.
“I think that race was a catalyst for my future work habits. It showed me that the work I put in adds up. Seeing such a positive result motivated me to apply myself even further to training, and to make the full mental transition from a varsity athlete to a professional one.
“Achieving such a time and beating those guys made my goals and dreams a little more realistic.”