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Olympian Eric Gillis wins two 10Ks, in different cities, on the same day

Canadian marathon runner and two-time Olympian Eric Gillis won a pair of 10K races, both in sub-30, on Saturday in two different cities.

Olympian Eric Gillis had a busy day at the office on Saturday winning back-to-back 10Ks in the span of 14 hours in two different southern Ontario cities. He first won the Toronto Waterfront 10K and returned home to Guelph to win the Canadian championships.

7:30 a.m. EDT: Waterfront 10K, Toronto – 29:22 (1st)
8:45 p.m. EDT: Canadian 10,000m championships, Guelph – 29:00.93 (1st)

“I decided to do both just a couple of weeks ago,” says Gillis. “I was joking about it a month ago and got more serious about the double since I knew I was going to do the Waterfront 10K and knowing I’m in marathon training, another 10K wasn’t that bad. I talked about it with my coach [Dave Scott-Thomas] and we were both cool with it.”

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Gillis, 36, stayed Friday night in Toronto with his teammate Reid Coolsaet, who he battled with for much of the race on Saturday morning before winning by two seconds. After the race, the two-time Olympian says he downed some Boost nutritional drinks, had two sandwiches, one from Tim Hortons and the other peanut butter and jam, and was back in action on Saturday night in Guelph, about a 75-minute drive from downtown Toronto.

The Canadian marathoner who is expected to be named to Team Canada for Rio on July 11 says that he started feeling good 5K into the morning race when he “found his stride” and got into a rhythm. The out-and-back course along Lakeshore Boulevard helped as spectators and other runners cheered him and Coolsaet on.

His best time ever in the marathon (2:11:21) was set on a similar loop as the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is also out-and-back along Lakeshore. Gillis says that, overall, he actually felt better racing at the Canadian 10,000m championships at night, run as part of the Speed River Inferno, a high-performance track meet.

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A contributing factor was that conditions cooled down in the evening in Guelph relative to the hot, morning conditions in Toronto. The outside lanes of the track were open to spectators too which bettered the race atmosphere for competing athletes. He won by 18 seconds after pulling away from a small pack that he had tucked in with earlier in the race.

Including a warm-up and cool down before and after the two races, Gillis estimates that he covered about 37 kilometres on Saturday, not uncommon for a runner in the midst of a marathon build. There are six weeks until the Olympics begin and exactly eight weeks until the men’s marathon on Aug. 21 (the last day).

After his night race in Guelph, Gillis got to bed at 1 a.m. and was up at 6 a.m. on Sunday to get in a big post-race meal. He will running for an easy hour today and has a long run on tap for Monday.

“Now I’ll be getting back to the basics,” says Gillis. “No more fancy, exciting stuff like doing two races in a day.”

Gillis won’t race again until the Olympics but will do some race simulation-type workouts including a 30/30/30 workout where each block (in minutes) is either below goal marathon race pace, at race pace, or faster than race pace. The lack of racing for Gillis, who represented Canada at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, in the weeks leading up to Rio is a personal preference.

Between the Waterfront 10K and Canadian championships, Gillis, Coolsaet and Krista DuChene were part of a Rio send-off party hosted by Canada Running Series with an appearance by Toronto mayor John Tory.

See how Gillis warms up for his races: